Park City Mountain Resort feels like a second home to Jenni Smith. She grew up skiing the mountain’s slopes each winter and hiking its trails in the summer. While in college, she took a part-time job at the resort. Once Smith started working behind the scenes, she never left.
Smith just completed her first year as president and general manager of Park City Mountain Resort and, despite her three decades of experience at the resort, she admits being in charge helps her see the organization in a whole new light.
“The thing that surprised me is what I thought I knew and what I didn’t know,” she says. “There’s not huge surprises—but just little things you have to pay more attention to than you did in your previous role.”
With a background in human resources and resort administration, Smith focuses on building relationships with employees, resort guests and the Park City community. She uses these relationships to increase positive visibility for the resort inside and outside the state.
“I come from the administrative side of the business—the people side of the business,” Smith says. “Not so much the operations or the ski school, which is the traditional path in the ski industry. So I think I bring a different approach.”
Smith has continued an effort to bring world-class sporting events to Park City Mountain Resort. In February, the resort co-hosted the 2011 FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships with Deer Valley Resort. It played host to the exciting halfpipe ski competition—an event the resort previously hosted during the 2002 Winter Olympics—and the 2009 FIS Freestyle World Cup.
Thrilling winter events like these expose a whole new generation of skiers to what the resort has to offer, says Smith. Drawing in families with year-round entertainment and attractions is also good for business. The resort has added a second zip line to complement its other summer season attractions, such as the alpine slide and alpine coaster.
Smith says her daily challenge is to ensure Park City Mountain Resort serves the needs of its guests and employees while simultaneously doing what’s good for business.
“You make that decision every day when you are looking at maybe a challenge that has come up or a problem that needs to be solved,” she says. “You ask yourself: How is it going to impact the employees? How is it going to impact the guests? What’s the cost financially to the company and is it the right thing to do?”