From Sydney to the snow

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The new boss of Queenstown ski field Coronet Peak is “under no illusions” about being unaccustomed to the snow industry. 

But what Coronet Peak ski area manager Ross Copland may lack in snow experience, he makes up for in spades with an already illustrious career. 

Copland, 29, began his new role with NZSki last Monday after shifting from Sydney, where he worked as the national operations manager for Westfield Australia. 

The Southland-born-and-raised man is an engineer who has worked in the Royal New Zealand Air Force, co-founded and led the humanitarian organisation Engin­eers Without Borders and worked as a site engineer for Mainzeal before pursuing sustainability interests. 

While at Mainzeal, Copland was promoted to national sustainability manager before taking up the same title for Westfield’s operating division in 2010. He was rapidly appointed as Westfield’s national operations manager, overseeing the company’s $33 billon commercial asset portfolio. 

Copland and his wife wanted to return to the South Island to bring up two young children. His NZSki appointment comes after long-serving ski area manager Hamish McCrostie stood down last year. 

Copland plans to bring his customer relations experience to the new role. 

“I’m under no illusions, I’m very new to the ski and snow sports industry,” he explains. 

“As much as anything, my first season is about learning, listening and trying to connect with as many customers as possible. 

“I want to hear their feedback and understand what their vision is as much as what we want to do. I’ve got a fantastic team up there, with decades of experience, which is very exciting.” 

A keen skier, Copland is familiar with local mountains. 

“One thing that Westfield’s really taught me is the customer journey. So from the decision you make to go skiing at Coronet Peak – what does that journey look like and what are the touch points along that journey to make it a more interesting and stress-free experience,” he says. 

“Everything from the road, to the carparking, getting through the rentals system, guest services – making sure it’s as easy and our staff are helpful and engaging.”