In less than 15 years, Kirby Brown has gone from cleaning a ski resort to managing one.
In a press release issued Monday, Dave Brownlie, President and Chief Operating Officer of Whistler-Blackcomb, announced Brown was being promoted from Director of Resort and Lodging Experience at Whistler Blackcomb to President and COO at Panorama Mountain Village, in Invermere.
“Kirby’s passion and good nature will certainly be missed, but it is these exact qualities which make him the ideal choice to lead Panorama into the future,” Brownlie said.
“Kirby’s proven track record in business development, combined with his knowledge of our industry are valuable additions to the strong team at Panorama.”
Panorama is currently owned by Intrawest, parent company of Whistler-Blackcomb.
Brown was first hired as a night cleaner for Whistler Mountain Ski Corp. in 1993, and was promoted to the position of Quality Assurance Coordinator a few years later.
During the amalgamation of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, Brown was appointed as Merger Coordinator, and was later promoted to Employee Housing and Services Manager, eventually taking on the title of Director of Employee Experience in 1999.
“One great thing about Intrawest is that people are always interested in what you’re going to do with your future, and I had always expressed interest in taking on a general manager role one day, when they felt I was ready,” Brown explained in an interview Tuesday.
While Brown has had great success working for Whistler-Blackcomb, he says he has never been “title-driven.”
“I never wanted anyone to feel in any way stymied or intimidated by a title. I’d rather go by Kirby than anything else.”
When the opportunity came up at Panorama about two weeks ago, Brownlie asked Brown if he would like to be considered for the opportunity. After going through the interview process, they finally reached an agreement on Friday, which means Brown has to be at Panorama on Dec. 17 to start his new job.
That doesn’t leave him much time to say goodbye to the town he’s grown to love.
The self-described “small town kid at heart,” came to Whistler from Lunenburg, a small fishing community in Nova Scotia, for the first time in 1986.
“I just remember looking at that mountain, and in the weirdest way, just wanting to wrap my arms around it,” Brown said Tuesday. “It just felt like home to me.”
Over his years working and living in Whistler and Pemberton, Brown has also been very active in the community — he was chair of the Tourism and Hospitality Education and Training Consortium, and has been a board member of the Whistler Housing Authority; go2, a tourism industry employment program; Whistler Healthy Communities; playgroundbuilders.org.; Whistler Blackcomb Environmental Fund; and WorkLife B.C.