Vail Resorts reveals CEO succession plan

Vail Resorts Inc. has revealed that Kirsten Lynch, the company’s current chief marketing officer, will be appointed CEO and elected to its board of directors, effective Nov. 1. At that time, Rob Katz, the company’s current CEO, will be appointed executive chairperson of the board, and Ryan Bennett, currently VP, marketing, lift revenue, will be named chief marketing officer.

Rob Katz

Lynch joined Vail Resorts in 2011 as chief marketing officer and previously held senior leadership positions at PepsiCo and Kraft Foods. She is a member of the board of directors of Stitch Fix Inc.

“Over her 10 years with the company, Kirsten has been responsible for the transformation and success of Vail Resorts’ data-driven marketing efforts and a primary driver of the company’s growth, stability and value creation,” said Katz. “In addition to having an incredible business acumen, Kirsten is one of the most passionate, driven leaders I have ever worked with. Her tremendous enthusiasm for the long-term vitality of our sport and a very high commitment to leadership development within our company will make her an outstanding leader of Vail Resorts. Kirsten will also be surrounded by an extremely strong and tenured executive team.”

Lynch said, “It is an honor to lead Vail Resorts as CEO and build upon Rob’s legacy of reimagining the mountain experience. I am passionate about this company, the leadership culture we have built and our 55,000 employees who make Vail Resorts the industry leader. Looking forward, I am excited about the incredible growth opportunities for Vail Resorts and committed to making our sport and our company more diverse, inclusive and accessible. Together, we will grow our business, innovate and continue to work toward our mission of creating an ‘Experience of a Lifetime’ for our guests and employees.”

Katz was appointed to the Vail Resorts board of directors in 1996 and named CEO in 2006. As executive chairperson, he will remain a Vail Resorts employee and director, advising both Lynch and the board on long-term strategy and critical priorities. While he is stepping down from the day-to-day operations of the company, he will be actively engaged in key strategic projects and decisions. He will also remain involved in Vail Resorts’ activities around leadership development as well as its efforts to broaden diversity, equity and inclusion at both the company and throughout the industry.

“After more than 15 years in role, one of my top priorities has been to identify and prepare a CEO for the next chapter in the company’s growth and success, and I am fully confident that Kirsten is that person,” said Katz. “And with our company having just navigated the most challenging period in its history and coming out stronger than when it began, this is the right time for me to take a step back and play a different role at Vail Resorts. I am incredibly proud of where our company is today and passionate about supporting Kirsten, our board and our executive team in continuing to reimagine the mountain resort experience. While I am grateful to have been a part of so many of our company’s incredible accomplishments over the past decades, I’m most proud of our unique leadership culture and the amazing leaders we have at every level of Vail Resorts—who have been the primary driver of all the innovation, growth and success we have created together.”

Bennett joined Vail Resorts in 2018 as VP, marketing analytics before he was promoted to his current role. In addition to leading the company’s season pass and lift ticket businesses, he has driven numerous strategic revenue and guest experience projects. Prior to joining Vail Resorts, he was with Boston Consulting Group for 11 years, including four years as a partner and managing director.

“In his two and half years at Vail Resorts, Ryan has had a tremendous impact on so many aspects of the Company’s marketing organization,” said Lynch. “He has transformed the way we leverage data and driven material growth for our advance commitment strategy—all while building and leading strong teams to achieve ambitious goals. Ryan will bring his outstanding marketing, analytic and leadership experience to his role as CMO to help drive the future revenue growth of Vail Resorts.”

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