Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Q&A with Vail Resorts Accounting Manager Wynn Tan (BBA18)


Q: Tell us a little about your career trajectory since graduating three years ago.
A: I started my career in Deloitte Minneapolis’ multi-state tax group and later moved to their Denver office. Now I’m with Vail Resorts in the Denver metro area. I started as a senior accountant in retail and rental and am now the accounting manager.

Q: Nice! How did you land that opportunity?
A: I just applied via the website!

Q: How do you like working for Vail Resorts? For some reason I’m picturing you working in a ski lodge on a laptop with a fire burning in front of you.
A: It’s not quite like that, but I applied because I love to ski. I started skiing four or five years ago, mostly at Vail Resorts (not counting a few childhood trips from Marshalltown to Sundown in Dubuque), so I was excited when I was hired. It’s been an interesting experience to be able to connect with the product. I love seeing numbers as more than just numbers—but as skis, snowboards, and passes.

Wynn Tan

Q: What drew you to accounting in the first place?
A: I love the puzzle of accounting. I know that a lot of people say accounting is very black and white, and that’s why they like it. I think that’s why I liked it in school, but having transitioned into several different roles, I now see there are definitely gray areas. When you’re providing insight or recommendations, you’re pairing data and a narrative to build a case.

Q: What is a part of the Tippie experience that you have carried with you?
A: The written and verbal skill set I gained as a Frank Business Communication Center tutor has definitely been part of my success. It sounds silly, but writing concise and clear emails is important! Synthesizing meeting notes into an email with key takeaways, recommendations, and asks to a senior leader is really important because they don’t have a ton of time in their day.

Q: Tell us a little about your day-to-day.
A: Every day is different for me, which is one of the reasons I love working at Vail Resorts. I manage a team of five that handles several buckets of work: chargeback disputes, payment infrastructure maintenance, credit card accounting, and related financial insights.

Q: Why do you thrive at Vail Resorts?
A: In my various roles so far, the common thread has been process improvement. It’s been fun to jump into the details, streamline the process, and then document it thoroughly for the next person. It seems rudimentary, but taking the time definitely pays forward. If you multiply the time you’ve saved over a day or a year, it creates time for you and your team to focus on different projects.

Q: What’s the “double black diamond” part of your job?
A: I’d say the hardest part of my job is  the element of change. Change is hard, but it also keeps my job interesting and keeps the company agile.
Another part that can be difficult is leadership development. Our CEO Robert Katz has been quoted saying that he wants Vail Resorts to be the best leadership company in the world, and as such, we have very robust in-house leadership training programs. Developing a leadership style and growing that skill set is a lifelong journey. Taking the time for the programs and taking the time to really be honest with myself is hard, but rewarding.
Both the constant change and the leadership development aspects are challenging, but they’re also the best parts of my job.

Q: What makes you proud to work for Vail Resorts?
A: Within the company, you see star team members who started as “lifties” on the mountain or as rental techs in one of our shops who are now GM or COO of one of our resorts. It’s an inspiring testament to our in-company leadership development initiatives, our culture, and the people as well. We have really hardworking, inspiring people in the company.

Q: What's in store for future Wynn?
A: I hope that I’m still doing something that fills my cup—that I continue to be fulfilled by what I do. I want to help grow the people around me and grow with them.

Blue Sky Basin

Bonus Questions!

Best Job Perk

Free skiing at all the Vail resorts locations!

Favorite Place to Ski

Of the Colorado Resorts, my favorite is Vail. My favorite area there is Blue Sky Basin. And my favorite runs Heavy Metal, Champagne Glade, and Steep and Deep.

Colorado Recommendations

Crepes a la cart

The best time of year to visit is a weekday in February because there’s good snow and less traffic. Spring skiing is fun too, if you want warmer temps and just want to hit groomers. The Osprey at Beaver Creek offers lodging with a wonderful guest experience. Outside of the resorts, I recommend Crêpes à la Cart on Main Street in Breckenridge—I get the s'mores crepe with strawberries.

This article first appeared in the 2021 issue of Iowa Ledger.