As the Director of Sales and Marketing at Sierra-at-Tahoe, Katie Hunter has the enormous responsibility of building and protecting the essence of the resort’s brand, while also laying the ground work for new programs and events.
Congratulations to this week’s 40 under 40 honoree, Katie Hunter!
Can you tell us a little about your responsibilities and accomplishments in your current position?
Sierra-at-Tahoe is more than just a brand, it’s a safe haven, a community, a playground, a feeling and a family. In my role, it is my most prudent responsibility to protect the essence that is our brand while continuing to morph and adapt to an ever-changing world. Having started as a snow reporter back in 2009, I had watched the ski industry and the world around us change and while the Sierra brand at its core still remained relevant, like all great things that stand the test of time, it also needed to grow and expand. In the summer of 2019, my team and I took a hard look at Sierra’s roots, where we had come from, and what we wanted to be in the future and did a complete realignment of our brand platform. This undertaking included creating our manifesto, reimagining our brand pillars and solidifying our brand promise to not only our guests and stakeholders, but our employees as well. The end result has created greater connection and authenticity in our brand and what it stands for; added in an additional segment that we call “The Playgrounds” which focuses on increasing creativity, community and belonging among youth and kids at heart in our terrain parks as well as created our rally cry for Sierra to be the place “Where Play Reigns Free”. I am so inspired by the work we did and even prouder to have been a part of it. Exceeding yearly sales targets with Season Pass, a successful RFID gate systems launch and creating a successful wedding program to encourage year-a-round opportunities for Sierra have all been projects I have been fortunate to lead but the Brand Platform will be the accomplishment I am most proud of for years to come.
What has been your favorite professional moment in the last year?
Laying the ground work for creating a successful summer wedding and events program and watching the events manager and catering team completely exceed all expectations and create some of the most beautiful, well executed and memorable events like STHS Prom and graduation as well as a perfect 5 star rating on Wedding Wire, brings tears to my eyes!
Do you have a professional/life mantra that you live by?
I am a big fan of Jocko Willink’s principles on Extreme Ownership and have my team hold me accountable to upholding them. Namely, “There are no Bad Teams, Only Bad Leaders”, “Embrace Extreme Ownership”, “Simplicity and Clarity” and “Decentralize Command”. My team even makes fun of me for using my Jocko voice when I talk about them.
Who is your role model?
I swear my response is true from my heart, and not a ploy to get a corner office. John Rice, Sierra-at-Tahoe’s General Manager for over 25 years. He is a true leader, has the highest integrity, the biggest heart and somehow the energy of a 25 year-old.
Why choose Tahoe to make your home and career?
I grew up in Southern California, went to school in San Diego and found my way to the mountains when I was offered my first Marketing job as a Snow Reporter. When I moved, I didn’t have a network or community… or really any friends. And the people and this place welcomed me in as if I was a Barton baby. It felt like home from the very beginning and I am so grateful that I have the chance to work in a place where I encourage people to come and enjoy this place, we call home.
Are you active in any volunteer roles or community groups?
I have always loved health and wellness, and when I have the opportunity to teach Kickboxing at The Bar and volunteer my time to help empower my students to strengthen their body, push their preconceived limits and protect themselves if needed, it is one of the greatest joys I have.
What is your favorite thing to do outside of work?
Anything outside, with a good crew and sunshine. Paddle boarding, road biking, hiking, climbing, or just hanging at the beach sounds like a perfect day by me!
Where are your favorite South Shore stomping grounds?
The Bar for a sweat sesh, Divided Sky and The Hangar for a round with friends, Verde for a delicious bite, Meyers to Sawmill to the beach bike path, Ski Beach for volleyball, 4-H to paddle board, Secret Beach for a quick dip, Fallen Leaf for a cold plunge, Coyote Rock for an after work hike, Dardanelles for a longer haul, and Stonefly ( not sure if that counts) for a gem off the beaten path!