By Karen D. Lorentz
Born in Wilmington, Delaware, Anne Reynolds grew up in Elkton, Maryland and graduated from the Wilmington Friends School in 1989. Not knowing what she wanted to do after earning a college degree in art history, Reynolds chose warm weather living and working in Florida where she could enjoy “lots of beautiful beaches,” she says of a career that began at the Boca Raton Resort & Club as an assistant for the director of benefits and risk management.
Ten years gaining experience in all human resources functions with two years as a human resources specialist in a non-profit organization for abused and abandoned children were followed by her first human resources director role at a beach resort in Ft. Lauderdale.
However, not liking the hurricanes that seemed to target their home year after year, she and her husband decided to investigate moving closer to family in “a less hurricane friendly state.”
Reynolds did her homework and discovered that “Vermont was a great place to raise a family, had amazing schools, low crime, and relatively zero hurricanes (Irene’s destruction came two years later).” As Director of Human Resources at Stratton Mountain Resort, she “learned something new every day” and found her 13 years there an “incredibly meaningful time for me both personally and professionally.” She also learned to ski and even switched to snowboarding “to be cool and connect with my son.”
A position in human resources at the iconic Ocean House in Rhode Island was followed by a move back to Vermont to be closer to family and work as an independent contractor. But she found that “the resort life is very difficult to leave. When I was contacted about the HR director position at Killington/Pico Resort, I was thrilled,” she said, noting she had “concerns about work/life balance, and I wanted to make sure our values aligned.”
Q& A with Anne Reynolds
Mountain Times: So how did you decide on the Killington/Pico job?
Anne Reynolds: Once I met the leadership team at Killington, any doubts were put to rest. This is a company that understands the value and importance of their most important assets — employees. The resort has made meaningful and important investments in the employee experience and company culture. The results of these efforts are clear. Every employee I’ve met has been kind, welcoming, and genuinely happy. It’s been an honor and a privilege to join this team.
MT: When did you join Killington as Human Resources Director, and what are your duties and responsibilities?
AR: My first day was Oct.13. I’m responsible for the direction and execution of all human resources functions for the resort. These include employee relations, performance management, employee engagement, recruiting, talent development and compliance with all federal, state and local employment laws.
MT: How do those duties compare to the other industries you have worked in?
AR: These duties are mostly similar across industries. However, each industry has its own unique challenges. For example, ski resorts typically have a smaller local employment population due to remote locations and often struggle with finding affordable housing for staff. Social services organizations may have limited resources which impact hiring staff at market wages.
MT: It’s in the news about worker shortages … does it apply to ski areas and how do you address it?
AR: I can’t recall any ski resorts ever stating they were fully staffed. At least not in my lifetime. We were already facing a major shortage of workers prior to 2019, and the pandemic just accelerated the crisis. There are approximately 2.5 million fewer people in the labor force than we were on track to have with pre-pandemic trends. The hospitality industry has been one of the hardest hit employment sectors.
Although we have expanded our international hiring numbers to help with the shortfall, we are also taking a holistic approach to attracting and retaining employees. Investing in wages, benefits, and training along with supporting work/ life balance has made Killington/Pico a much more attractive employer. The company has also purchased two additional employee housing sites to provide affordable housing. Retaining talent is equally as important. Delivering the employee experience, we promised, is essential.
MT: What do you like about your job? The best part? Rewards? Challenges?
AR: The employees of course! This may sound cliché but there is nothing more important to me. It’s such an honor to get to know and support our workers. They become family to me. Sure, there are challenges like anything else, but I’ve learned that most people have good intentions and kind hearts. Helping people realize their own strengths and values has been incredibly rewarding.
MT: What are the greatest challenges you’ve seen in HR? Did the Covid pandemic affect it?
AR: I think one of the biggest challenges in Human Resources is changing the “us versus them” perception. Covid made this even worse because much of the enforcement of Covid protocols fell on human resources. This resulted in a lot of stress and burnout.
HR must walk the line between holding people accountable and reducing risk, yet also serving as the gatekeeper and cheerleader of the company culture. At times, these purposes can be diametrically opposed. However, I do believe it’s possible to do both without alienating the people we support. It may mean we have to be more flexible or change our perceptions, but the results are well worth it.
MT: Were there any people who were special influences or mentors to you?
AR: Yes, there are two. Sky Foulkes, previous President/GM of Stratton Mountain, is the kind of leader who makes you want to be a better employee. He was a great listener and valued what people had to say. He showed me that I could believe in myself. The other is my beautiful mother. She’s taught me everything I know about unconditional love, generosity, and resilience.
MT: How do you spend your time outside of work?
AR: Working out (mostly running) is an important part of my life. For me, the emotional and mental benefits of being active outweigh the physical. I also love traveling, politics, and tennis.
MT: What would you tell someone who was thinking about getting a job at a ski area?
AR: Do it! There is so much opportunity. You don’t have to be a skier or snowboarder to belong. The mountains, the employees and the community will support and sustain you.
MT: Any advice or words of wisdom you can share?
AR: If you want to be happy at work, focus on the parts of the job that fill you with joy. Try not to depend on others for validation or recognition. It’s not sustainable. You already have everything you need and you are more than enough.