CIO Profiles: Robert Urwiler Of Vail Resorts - InformationWeek

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11:15 AM

CIO Profiles: Robert Urwiler Of Vail Resorts

It's time to embrace the consumerization of IT, says this CIO.

Career Track

Robert Urwiler Executive VP and CIO,  Vail Resorts

Robert Urwiler
Executive VP and CIO, Vail Resorts
How long at Vail Resorts: More than five years

Career accomplishment I'm most proud of: Helping to provide the foundational skills and experience that have allowed several members of my past teams to become CIOs and technology executives today.

Most important career influencer: Kamalesh Dwivedi, my former boss and CIO at Scientific-Atlanta, who gave me opportunities to learn many aspects of IT and inspired me to want to become a CIO. Kamalesh taught me the importance of timely, intuition-based decision-making as well as the importance of branding and marketing IT products.

Decision I wish I could do over: At times when I ceded control of significant efforts to third parties, I regretted the outcome. What I've learned is that core functions and complex project execution need direct internal oversight. It's OK to use third parties to augment the team where necessary, but control must stay with people you know and trust.

On The Job

Size of IT team: Around 150 employees

Top initiatives:

  • Our original EpicMix product is a Web and mobile social platform for our guests. The next iteration of EpicMix will include the integration of professional and guest-generated on-mountain photography along with deeper social networking integration.
  • We'll enhance our CRM platform by expanding our customer database while refining our analytics, campaign management, and predictive modeling capabilities.
  • We'll finish the integration of our newest resort, Northstar at Tahoe, into our tech ecosystem to support a consistent guest experience.


The next big thing for my company will be ... to fully embrace the consumerization of IT by creating advanced Web and mobile applications that enhance interactions with guests at every point of contact.

One thing I'm looking to do better: To be more creative in the way we solve problems by challenging the status quo, from the way we manage the IT stack to the business and customer processes we enable.

Lesson learned from the recession: I learned that we could quickly refocus our resources to target specific programs and initiatives that would help the company weather the recession without hurting the guest experience. Also, we didn't have to do this entirely at the expense of investments in the future.

Kids and tech careers: I can't think of a more rewarding and engaging career choice. We're in the middle of a technology revolution that is only in the early stages.


Colleges/degrees: Mercer University, MS in technology management; Nova Southeastern University , Ph.D. in information systems

Leisure activities: Skiing and cycling

Smartphone of choice: iPhone

Best book read recently: Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, by Daniel Pink

If I weren't a CIO, I'd be ... involved in some type of creative endeavor, likely in a role where I could influence how consumers use technology.

Ranked No. 10 in the 2011 InformationWeek 500

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User Rank: Apprentice
11/28/2011 | 3:40:45 PM
re: CIO Profiles: Robert Urwiler Of Vail Resorts
Liked Mr. Urwiler's comment, "It's OK to use third parties to augment the team where necessary, but control must stay with people you know and trust." Our most successful customers follow this path. Glad to see the progressive thinking around "leveraging" technologies vs. boxing them out. (PS - Mr. Urwiler should check out for CRM/analytics. We're a Denver based company too.)
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