Rob McSkimming, Whistler Blackcomb Vice President Business Development, 2013 SAMMY Winner
Where you were in your career when you won a SAMMY, and big moments since?
I think I was one of the oldest SAMMYs—slow to mature, I guess. I was basically in my current role as VP business development for WB. The biggest moment since my SAMMY was announcing our long-term development plans: Whistler Blackcomb Renaissance in April 2016.
Best Day/Worst Day/Most Memorable in the business?
Best Day: Heli skiing and heli biking in the same day.
Worst Day: Those days when we lose one of our friends or colleagues.
Most Memorable: I think this goes back to 1985-86 when Blackcomb announced its Black Magic expansion—huge news at the time.
Who was/is a memorable mentor?
Donald Trump—har! Of course, I have to mention my boss, Dave Brownlie, who I have worked with/for for more than 20 years. He has taught me to strive to figure out the oxymoron of combining financial discipline with creativity and innovation. I think he probably stopped me from doing some really stupid things, and got me to dig deeper to find solutions to issues before swinging for the fences.
Did you ever almost leave the industry, and why? Why did you stay?
Once I had a taste, I kept on eating—that metaphor could continue, but probably best I stop here. I can’t imagine working in another industry. I am really not very good at anything else. I think those of us who do [work in this industry] are extremely fortunate to be able to combine work and play.
If you could work in another industry doing something completely different, what would it be?
Designing cool stuff, not exactly sure what.
When was the last time you actually purchased a lift ticket?
Ironically, I purchased a ticket to check Vail out a couple of years ago—it was really expensive.
How many days do you go without washing your ski / snowboard socks?
Depends on the freezing level—couple of days if it has been warm, double that during cold snaps.
What’s the last thing you searched on Google?
Backcountry touring boots.
Salted pistachio nuts.
Where do you keep your SAMMY Award?
In my office.
Thoughts on the future?
Despite the gloom and doom surrounding our industry, I think the future is bright. Equipment keeps on getting better—easier to use, more effective, more versatile in all conditions, etc. Resorts/ski areas are getting better at developing/improving on-mountain experiences, from snowmaking/grooming to terrain features and access to the rental shop, to online ticketing/booking, to food and beverage and events, etc.
Witness the explosion in the development of non-skiing activities at resorts. Families continue take up skiing at early ages and are increasingly attracted to our summer offerings. We are seeing a broader ethnic mix of visitors. Furthermore, the growing development of Chinese tourism—especially with the Beijing Games in 2022—could be a force in the future. Also, the development of new, year-round/summer attractions.
So, I believe, as we always have, we will experience some years/seasons that are better than others based on external weather, economic and other factors, but in general, I see way more to be optimistic about than what I perceive the common industry perspective to be.