Suzanne Denbak is new WRA boss
By Chris Woodall
Whistler Resort Association's gain is Toronto Convention Centre's loss, as Suzanne Denbak has been chosen to be the WRA's new president.
Denbak takes over from acting president Craig MacKenzie, who was filling in after the Dec. 31 departure of long-time WRA president David Thomson
Denbak takes her seat June 1. MacKenzie will stay on board until then and perhaps a bit longer to help acclimatize Denbak to Whistler life.
"She's a very people person," says WRA board chairman Rick Clare. "She'll bring a visitor's point of view to the resort association."
Denbak's tenure as executive vice-president and chief operating officer of the Toronto Convention Centre was typified by an open-door policy toward staff and clients. "She spends a lot of time on the floor of the convention centre talking to guests," Clare says of Denbak's management style.
Although the peaks of financial skyscrapers are a little different than Whistler's peaks of recreation, competition for tourist dollars is a tough business no matter what the location.
"Toronto in a much more competitive market than we have," Clare says of Denbak's ability to get business for the T.O. convention centre.
And too, she'll come to Whistler after piloting an on-budget $185 million expansion of the Hogtown convention centre.
WRA staff should look forward to her arrival, too. "She brings out the best in people," Clare says. "Suzanne really mentors well."
Denbak will be accompanied in Whistler by her husband, although as a software developer he should have no trouble adjusting to relocating his business beside North America's No. 1 ski slopes or swanky golf courses.
The Denbaks have already had a taste of Whistler from a week of skiing in early April, Clare says.
The WRA is helping make the move a little smoother by nailing down potential rental accommodation, easier to do at this time of year than, say, October.
Denbak will take the WRA helm as the resort marketer heads in a new direction, Clare says.
"We drew up a job description to reflect the direction we'll be going in the next few years," Clare says. "We're entering a new era with the internet and she's got a good technological background."
As president, Denbak will liaise with the WRA's 4,500 members, oversee strategic planning and targeted marketing, as well as effectively managing the convention centre, central reservations, entertainment and golf facilities.
"We're real excited about her coming here with a fresh approach," Clare says. "We feel we got the best."