Industry Profile: Burton Resort Programs Manager Shaun Cattanach
15 Aug, 2008
Shaun: I grew up splitting my time between CO and AK and got an early appreciation for the mountains. My mom got me skiing when I was about 6 and by the time I was 13 I switched over to snowboarding. I used to go sledding for fresh lines behind our house in Anchorage and then found Fort Lewis College. Purgatory Resort was only 25 miles away so the fact that I actually graduated with a degree was pretty impressive considering I was averaging over 100 days a season.
Shay: What is your job title?
Shaun: Resort Programs Manager for Burton Snowboards
Shay: Did your parents question your job choice?
Shaun: My parents have always been supportive of my career path, especially since they know how happy I am working in the industry I love. At least that’s what they tell me when I ask…
Shay: What was your first set up?
Shaun: The first set up I owned was a Burton Elite 150 circa ’85 with Sorels (run with the original felt liners).
Shay: What is your current set up?
Shaun: I spend a lot of time riding LTR boards but really like the way the Custom feels with the CO2 EST’s. I’d prefer to be riding a Fish in waist deep fluff every day though.
Shay: What was your first job?
Shaun: Mowing lawns.
Shay: What’s a great day of snowboarding to you?
Shaun: Like most people, I love a great powder day with my friends.
Shaun at Baldface while developing the LTR Powder Program
Shay: Who are your influences?
Shay: How long have you been snowboarding?
Shaun: Coming up on 24 years.
Shay: How many days do you get to ride a year?
Shaun: I get about 60 days a year.
Shay: What is your role at Burton as the resort programs manager?
Shaun: I help design the products that make learning easier (LTR and Progression line) and then work with resorts around the globe to incorporate the products and programs into what they are doing. I also help with projects like Smart Style, The Stash and Burton Progression Parks.
Shay: Currently how many resorts use the Learn to Ride program?
Shaun: We are currently working with over 160 resorts globally.
Shay: Burton has LTR progression parks that help teach freestyle?
Shaun: Yep, we took the concept of the right gear, the right coaching and the right environment to build a freestyle program. Almost everyone who rides is interested in parks and Progression Parks help riders learn in a really cool and controlled space without having to worry about other people.
Shay: In the LTR program, there’s a focus on beginner progression parks. How does the program allow for progression onto bigger (i.e. pro) features in a safe and progressive way?
Shaun: Everything that you’d find in a Progression Park is designed to build the skill set needed to tackle bigger features in other parks at a resort. As you move through the features in the Progression Park, you’ll encounter more challenging set ups that help prepare you to move to other parks. Each resort that has a Progression Park also has a variety of parks of different difficulty levels to continue the progression of riders.
Shay: The Smart Style program helps create park safety, what are some key components to making parks safer?
Shay: Any future plans that Burton has in collaboration with resorts?
Shaun: We continue to push snowboarding and will work to make it easier for people to get into the sport as well as work to evolve the riding experience. The LTR programs have proven to make learning easier and The Stash has been one of the coolest things we’ve developed.
Shay: The Stash is a huge success, any future plans to open more Stash locations?
Shaun: The Stash is a unique project that came about from Jake and the team riders talking about what the best possible snowboard runs would be. Northstar, Avoriaz and the Remarkables are very special resorts that have committed in a huge way to make those runs happen. Not every mountain is going to be able to step up to the plate and make a Stash run and even fewer will be able to dedicate the resources to maintain the runs and continuously improve upon them. We have plans in place to expand the list of locations but it will be a very slow expansion and if I were to tell you where the next one might be I’d have to kill you…
Shay: Prior to Burton, what other jobs/companies have you worked at?
Shaun: I ran shops in CO and UT for Max Snowboards for a few years before coming to Burton. Before that I ran the Snowboard School at Purgatory.
Shay: What’s your average day like at work?
Shaun: I have yet to find an average day at work. If I’m not traveling, I’ll get to the office, down a bunch of coffee, fight through piles of emails and bounce between meetings. It’s really not that glamorous but it’s never boring.
Shay: What are some memorable experiences from working at Burton?
Shaun: Traveling around the globe, riding bottomless powder in places like Europe, Japan and Canada as well as getting to know and work with some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met.
Shaun in Japan on a sales trip last January
Shay: How is working for Burton (any cool work events, work environment, job perks?
Shaun: It’s the coolest job I’ve ever had. I usually wear shorts and a t-shirt to work, people bring their dogs and then we get to invade Jake’s house at least once a year for a big party.
Shay: What’s the best park you’ve gotten from your job?
Shaun: Traveling the world to snowboard.
Shay: Any disadvantages of your job?
Shaun: Having to spend so much time traveling, away from my family.
Shay: Do you think snowboards will be radically different in 10 years?
Shaun: I think there will continue to be technological advances but I think a lot of it will be evolutions to what we’ve already got.
Shay: Since you started in the industry, what’s been the biggest change?
Shaun: Importance of snowboarders to resort operators. When I first started working in this industry (’89-’90 season), snowboarders were still thought of as a nuisance by a lot of people. The only parks we had were the jumps we built ourselves and the closest thing we had to a halfpipe was best described as a ditch.
Shay: Do you try out other companies snowboards?
Shaun: Not as much as I used to but I do enjoy trying out other boards to see what other companies are up to.
Shay: What’s the busiest time of year for you?
Shaun: Late October through Late April and then early May through mid-October.
Shay: Education vs. Experience…which do you think is more important?
Shaun: Experience is what will make or break you. Education will help tell you what to expect but until you actually do it, it’s all theory. A good education will help prepare you however.
Shay: What advice would you give to people wanting to work in the industry?
Shaun: Make sure you love it because there are much easier ways to make money. It’s a cool industry and the people in it are usually a lot of fun but there are easier ways to get in a ton of riding or make a living.
Shay: Final thoughts?
Shaun: Win the lottery and then go chase the storms with your crew. If that’s not going to happen, find a way to make what you love into your job. Be willing to start out in a position that may seem less than what you hoped for, work hard and keep your eyes open for opportunities. And most of all, always remember that this industry is really small so don’t be an ass and don’t burn any bridges.