Vail Resorts & Leeds Seek Sustainable Answers

  • Greg

    Feature profile, spring 2009

Projects Bring Together Faculty, Students, & All Levels of Company, from CEO to Interns

Leeds School of Business at CU-BoulderPublished in Portfolio (magazine of the Leeds School of Business, CU-Boulder)

IT’S A SHAME the word ‘sustainability’ has been misused and misinterpreted so often recently, because the heart of the concept may be exactly what business needs right now … read article at ZMags.com

WEB EXTRA – Breaking in to the Ski Industry: Recent Alum Discovers Mountains of Opportunity at Vail Resorts

For Kevin Snyder (BS ’07, management), it was a dream come true: he landed a job at Vail Resorts, fresh out of the Leeds School of Business. It all started by volunteering as project manager through a class at Leeds. The project was a sustainability initiative which required that he work closely with Julie Klein, Vail Resorts’ director of Environmental Affairs. Following the success of that project, Snyder took a systematic approach based on building and maintaining relationships, leading up to his job offer fresh out of the school of business. He now works for Aaron Rubinstein, a senior procurement analyst in Vail Resorts’ Broomfield corporate offices (just 11 miles from the University of Colorado’s Boulder campus).

Like Snyder, Rubinstein’s own career path started with his belief in pursuing companies and industries about which he was passionate. His philosophy consisted of getting a foot in the door and then working hard to prove himself. Rubinstein explains: “For me, that meant a job sorting mail for eight hours a day at our corporate office!”

Two years and six promotions later, he found himself in a position to hire new employees like Snyder. Rubinstein cites real world business experience as a critical deciding factor for new hires fresh out of business school: “Not only will the experience give their coursework more relevance, but it will give them a significant edge as they seek out employment opportunities. As someone who has hired for entry level positions, I can say that a degree alone is often not enough to differentiate an applicant from the crowd. Being able to demonstrate relevant business experience, however, can set a candidate apart.”

This kind of relevant experience is precisely at the core of Leeds curriculum, especially in light of the university’s Flagship 2030 initiatives, which include enhanced experiential learning for all students. Rubinstein is bullish about the types of programs Leeds is currently fostering: “One of the larger challenges for business students is seeing application and meaning in what they’re learning, without having any exposure to the subject material in a real world environment. I often think back to particular courses and wish that I could have taken them with the perspective I have now. That’s one reason I think programs such as the Leeds Project Management Course are so valuable; the students are immersed in an environment where they can start to make connections between actual business challenges and the skills they are developing in school.”

Snyder agrees: “I think the cycle from student to client and client to student is a very important piece of the relationship between Leeds and Vail Resorts.” And what has this relationship meant to him, personally? “Long ago, I made the decision that no matter what I ended up doing as an adult, I would have to be passionate about my work. Vail Resorts is a perfect fit for me because I’ve been a voluntary evangelist for the company since I was a kid.”

“In turn I am a perfect fit for Vail Resorts,” continues Snyder, “because I bring that passion with me every single day that I work. Skiing and snowboarding are not only incredible forms of physical exercise but are also invaluable activities for the soul. They require discipline, mental clarity, and self-awareness; all of which are directly transferable into one’s career life.”

His advice for students and graduates who would like to follow his lead, to a career at a company like Vail Resorts? “Build and maintain relationships, and opportunities will follow. I’ve been unbelievably impressed by how many doors the Leeds School of Business has opened for me.” Or try the mailroom.

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