On December 22, 2022

Meet ambassador program manager Pete Duffy

By Karen D. Lorentz

Pete Duffy has seen enough of the world and skied in so many places that when he expresses a preference for living in Vermont, you know he’s found his home — the place that completes him.

The same can be said for his position as the Killington ambassador program manager, where he delights in working with people — staff, guests, and most of all the volunteers who share his enthusiasm for helping others.

Born in Schenectady, New York, Duffy grew up “moving a lot. I lived on the border of France, Switzerland and Germany for three years; Paris, France for two years: Scottsdale, Arizona for two years; and Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota  area for about 12 years,” he relates of the time before he moved to New England.

Instructors at Kitzhuhel in Austria taught Duffy to ski when he was six, and he skied in different places in Europe while living there as a child, including Grindelwald, Switzerland, where his family rented a ski house for several winters. “I have done some skiing out West and quite a bit in Vermont,” he adds of an understated passion for skiing and the mountains.

After Duffy graduated from the University of Wisconsin, River Falls, in 1985, he spent time working in horticulture, agriculture (worked on a dairy farm and cranberry bog for 10 years in Massachusetts), shipping and warehousing. After living in Carlisle, Massachusetts, he moved to Vermont where he’s lived now for almost 20 years.  Currently, he has his own property repair and maintenance business in addition to his Killington position.

Q&A with Pete Duffy

Mountain Times: When did you join Killington and in what position?

Pete Duffy:  Starting in 2007, I spent seven years as a volunteer Mountain Ambassador and then became a paid employee when I got the ambassador coordinator position. This is my seventh season of being the ambassador program manager.

MT: What do you like about your job and/or working at Killington? rewards? challenges?

PD: I enjoy working with the people, guests, staff, and volunteers. With the exception of one paid staff member [the Ambassador Coordinator], all of my team are volunteers so a big part of my job is to make sure they enjoy what they are doing or they won’t continue. I have a very low attrition rate and most of them have been here for many years so that means a lot to me.

Every single day is different, offering different challenges and rewards which I like. We may have weather challenges, lift issues, guests who have problems that I need to help resolve. When I can help guests, co-workers, or ambassadors have a better day due to something my team or I did, it’s very satisfying for me and I feel a sense of accomplishment.

MT: What are the greatest changes you’ve seen in your job or at the ski area?

PD: Things are becoming more automated, including ticket purchasing, scanning, going cashless at the resort, and even scheduling for my volunteers. This is ultimately making it easier, but it can be challenging to keep up with all of the changes.

MT: Were there any people who were special influences or mentors to you? 

PD: My parents instilled a strong work ethic in me, and that has been helpful for my position because it can require long hours, especially during holidays and large events. I volunteered and then worked with John Puchalski (Grizz) for nine years, and he taught me a lot about the resort and how to run the program since he had been here approximately 20 years.

MT: Any memorable mountain moments or stories you can share? 

PD: So many memories and stories. As ambassadors, we help find people who get separated from their families or group; this often involves young children. It can be terrifying for a parent to lose their child at a resort this size, but we can usually find and reunite them quickly. Seeing some of those reunions can be very moving since I know it’s stressful for both parties involved.

One particularly strange question I will never forget is when a guest walked up to two of us while we were greeting at Snowshed and asked where she could keep her pet turtle while she went skiing. She had the turtle under a towel, in a glass bowl.

I will never forget helping get Mikaela Shiffrin’s grandmother [Nana] out to the finish area at the first World Cup that we hosted. Nana had never seen Mikaela race in person, and Mikaela didn’t know that her grandmother was going to be standing amongst the press. She broke down in tears when she saw her and wouldn’t leave her side. After that race, Mikaela sent me a long letter explaining how much it meant to her and how she enjoyed racing at Killington. I have since developed a friendship with the entire family, and it’s great to see them all every year at World Cup.

MT: How do you spend your time outside of work? 

PD: I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, skiing at other resorts, being at the ocean in the summer, cooking. I’m a people person, which is why I enjoy this job.

MT: What’s your take on the mountain or ski town lifestyle? On winter? Vermont?

PD:  I have lived in a lot of different places and Vermont offers me a lot of what I have come to realize I’m looking forward to. I am in the mountains yet can get to the beach easily, even for a day trip. Living in this area allows for a more relaxed lifestyle, yet I can get to bigger cities very easily, whether it’s Burlington, Boston or even New York City. I always enjoy getting back home though. I spent time living in warm climates, but I love the change of seasons that Vermont offers. People ask me what my favorite season is, and I tell them, whichever season we are in at the time.

MT: What would you tell someone who wanted to move here? or was thinking about getting a job at a ski area?

PD: Don’t move to Vermont to get rich, either get rich first or be someone that doesn’t need a lot of money. I live here for a lot of reasons and money is not one of them.  The same goes for working at a ski resort, do it because it’s something you enjoy and makes you happy.

There are a lot of opportunities at Killington — it’s basically a small city, we have everything from electricians, ski instructors, food and beverage, lodging, waste water treatment, road crews, human resources, mechanics, marketing, communications … the list goes on and on. You may not start off in a position that you want to stay in, but it will allow you to see what the resort has to offer.

MT: Any advice or words of wisdom?

PD: As the saying goes, find a job you love and you’ll never have to work again. That’s the way I feel right now.

MT: Anything else you would like to share?

PD: I have managed and supervised a lot of people in my various jobs, but none compare to this group of volunteers. They volunteer because they love it, not for the perks. They often go above and beyond so that our guests can have a good experience while visiting the resort. Having a group of this many people (approximately 200) who are willing to come and volunteer in ANY kind of weather and enjoy themselves at the same time is very special. I have seen and been a part of many life-long friendships that develop

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