Case Study: PSIA

Chief Executive Officer


The Client

The Professional Ski Instructors of America/American Association of Snowboard Instructors (PSIA-AASI), is an education association dedicated to promoting the sports of skiing and snowboarding through instruction. PSIA-AASI includes nearly 32,000 members divided into nine (9) divisions throughout the United States. PSIA-AASI establishes certification standards for snowsports instructors and develops education materials to be used as the core components of instructor training. PSIA-AASI’s revenue budget is in the $3.8M range. The organization is governed by a 12-member Board of Directors, including one ex officio member, the Chair of the President’s Council. All nine divisions are represented on the Board of Directors. A professional staff of 14 manages the organization from its headquarters office in Lakewood, Colorado, outside of Denver.

The Challenge

The previous CEO, who served PSIA-AASI for nine years, had left the organization, and an Acting/Interim CEO had been appointed by the Board Directors. PSIA-AASI was in the process of implementing a new form of governance, the Policy Governance® model. The organization was facing some financial challenges, and membership was stagnant. In addition, some of the stakeholder relationships, particularly between the headquarters office and the division offices, needed improvement. Before starting candidate outreach and recruitment, the Sterling Martin team conducted interviews with numerous stakeholders, including the Board, staff, division presidents, vendors, and other persons whose experience with the organization was deep. We would be seeking candidates with strong communications skills and with substantial experience in business, financial management and organizational leadership. PSIA-AASI needed a CEO with experience building relationships across an organization and within an industry, and candidates would need to develop and implement strategy and vision. Membership development and retention were also seen as being important, and the new CEO would need to bring strong staff leadership skills to the table.

The Solution

Our placement was Nicholas (“Nick”) Herrin. Nick was actually an “outside the box” candidate as the board initially thought they were looking for an executive with extensive association management experience. What Nick brought instead was deep ski area resort experience. In addition to having extensive staff management experience, Nick was a fully certified Level III ski instructor, was a Level 100 Coach and a Certified Referee with the United States Ski Association, and was a PSIA Rocky Mountain Level II Examiner.

Nick came to PSIA-AASI from Crested Butte Mountain Resort where he had been Assistant General Manager for seven years. He was directly responsible for managing 11 budgets across two different companies, totaling approximately $20M, and had responsibility for approximately 420 staff. Initially, Nick was hired at Crested Butte as the Ski and Ride School Director and was quickly promoted to Director of Resort Services and, ultimately, to his role as Assistant General Manager.

Nick graduated from Montana State University with a Bachelor’s degree in History with a Teaching Endorsement. He intended to become a teacher, but after having worked as a ski instructor part-time with Big Sky resort, he was offered a full-time role there upon graduation. He was quickly promoted to Training Director, and in the off season, he served as Group Sales Manager which exposed him to the business side of the resort. In 2004, Nick tried out for and was accepted as a PSIA National Alpine Team member. He has since served three terms on the team.

From Big Sky, Nick was recruited to Telluride to run its ski school as Assistant Director; the Vice President who recruited him mentored Nick in the areas of finance and administration, and he was promoted to Director after two years. After four years at Telluride, Nick was approached by management at Crested Butte about directing the Ski and Ride School. Nick felt that this would be a very good opportunity for him because the ski school was quite antiquated and needed new systems and a “breath of fresh air.” He served in several roles at Crested Butte before being promoted to Assistant General Manager.

Nick turned out to be the perfect choice for PSIA-AASI’s CEO role because of his relationship building skills, deep ski resort knowledge, people and budget management experience, understanding of ski and riding schools and already-strong relationships with the organization’s stakeholders.

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