Photo Credit: FBritton @ World Ski & Snowboard Festival

Learn How to Make #Whistler Events Your Career

Whistler Adventure School speaks with a Key Organizer of
The World Ski & Snowboard Festival

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In the Whistler Adventure School Event Planning Class we had the opportunity to team up with the World Ski and Snowboard Festival (WSSF), to witness from the inside how the magic is created. The WSSF is an annual celebration of snowsports, music, arts and mountain culture located in the popular resort town of Whistler, Canada. Our students had the opportunity to network with the organizers of this capitvating event, creating new contacts to prepare their launch into event planning and to get involved with their next event Crankworx, a ‘ground zero for the global mountain bike community’. Throughout the Event Planning Class students are able to learn the theory and then put it into practice. Learning the steps it takes to create a successful event, as well as some tips and tricks on how to make the event flow for the audience. Whether they participated in the Michael Franti – Stay Human Film Screening, Multiplicity, or the Swatch 72hr Filmmaker Showdown, all the students were able to feel the energy and excitement of being involved.

Michael Franti, WSSF, Event Planning
Students participating at the Michael Franti film screening of “Stay Human” at the WSSF

One of the key people at the heart of the WSSF event is Jen Bower, a dynamic and outgoing Festival Operations Manager for the WSSF and Crankworx. We had a discussion with Jen on what life steps led her to this position and what advice would she offer students looking to get involved.

How did you decide that the event planning life was for you?

During my very first job out of university working at a global law firm, I was exposed to professional event planning and I loved it. I actually didn’t think I would make a career out of it until I had left event planning for a couple of years and quickly realized that I missed the creativity and community aspect of it all. I found myself planning company events in roles that had nothing to do with events and I took that as a nudge to come back to it.

How did you land this central role with the WSSF and Crankworx?

In short, networking. I was wrapping up my final term of my Master’s in Business program when one of my professors mentioned that I should apply for the role as Festival Operations Manager at CEI. The reason she recommended it to me was that she knew I wanted to have an impact on the community through my work and this role would allow me to do just that within and around Whistler. I then spent the next few months researching the events, interviewing, and hoping that I was the right fit for the team. It has been a remarkable start here at Crankworx Events and I wouldn’t be here without sharing my career goals with my professor.

WSSF Volunteering
Prepping for the next event at World Ski & Snowboard Festival

What roles did you have before this one as Festival Operations Manager?

While I had served as the social chair in clubs throughout university, my first professional role introduced me to corporate event planning. I was the Litigation Practice Coordinator at a global law firm and one of my main responsibilities was planning and executing off-shore corporate retreats for 200+ lawyers. I was also responsible for coordinating local marketing and networking events with other law firms in New York City. I then decided to try something new and worked as a project manager in data consulting which quickly showed me that I missed events as I found myself planning social and charitable events outside of work as I had  missed the community aspect of events so much at the time. When I went back to school to get my MBA, I knew I wanted event planning to be an aspect of my role and I am so pleased that it is the focus of my career.

What school did you attend and what real-life education helped you to decide on event planning and execution?

I received my bachelors from Boston University and my Masters from the University of British Columbia. The real-life education that helped me decide to come back to event planning was actually taking a break from it and seeing from a distance how events can be a tool in so many ways. Coming from an organizational culture perspective, events and retreats allow employees to bond in an intentional yet comfortable manner. Looking at events from a tourism aspect, there is no better way to promote the host city and support the stakeholders within, than by planning an engaging event that brings in visitors and celebrates the locals. To me, there is something about an event that helps people experience a place, an idea, a song, a meal, etc. in a way that has the potential to transform the public and knowing that we, as event planners, can influence this experience is truly incredible. I do my best to consider the community as a whole as we build our plans by asking questions like, “Where can we elevate a group that could use it?” and,  “How can we protect the environment even more? “

WSSF Michael Franti Film Screening | Staying Human
Michael Franti Staying Human Film Screening at World Ski & Snowboard Festival

What is your favourite part about the event planning process?

My favourite part of event planning is using it as a tool to build up others, whether internally or externally. Giving our team members the chance to manage a bigger group of employees or learn something new with each event has become a privilege. Finding ways to highlight groups, small businesses, great causes and other deserving members within our community helps expand the meaning of why we do what we do and I love it.

Do you have a mentor?

My mentor is my high school English teacher who then became a mentor after I finished university and started reaching out to her for life advice. I chose to reach out to her because she isn’t afraid to question my ideas and give honest feedback. As a teacher, she did a great job of always sharing her own opinions without pushing them onto us which she has carried over into her mentorship approach. As a manager, I try to follow her example by listening, asking insightful questions, and showing my support regardless of the outcome.    

If a student walked up to you asking for your advice and you only had a few minutes to give them your best tip, what would they be?

My tip for a student would be to put yourself out there. If you are interested in events, get involved with local events and start networking. While networking seems so daunting, it’s really about building relationships which is the foundation of event planning so start now.

Jen’s last piece of advice = Always ask for feedback and find ways to challenge yourself.

Stay tuned for when Crankworx will be organizing their volunteers for their event in August.  You can visit their site at

Live, Learn & Play with Whistler Adventure School

Kate Kozak is an Event Planning Instructor at Whistler Adventure School.
#WhistlerEDU #LiveLearnPlay
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Photo Credit: Michael Crane @ World Ski & Snowboard Festival