Location: Frisco, CO
Industry: Mountain Resort Planning & Design
Kent Sharp has scaled his way up the mountain of success, but not without the help of his team. A perpetual student of business and leadership, he believes that none of us is capable of seeing all the aspects or truly leading independently.
Sharp is President & CEO of SE Group, a planning, design and strategic consulting company in the outdoor recreation and mountain resort industries. Joining in 2018, his focus and principal form of leadership is defined by a constant pursuit of learning, and re-learning, how to lead.
Through Sharp’s disciplined leadership, SE Group has achieved an average net margin of 14.75%. SE Group retains its legacy and reputation as leaders throughout the ski industry and enjoys an impressive 85-90% market share within North America, serving as planners of record for virtually every mountain resort/ski area that comes to mind. Impressively, SE Group’s dominant market share is almost exclusively repeat business and client referrals.
In 2019, SE Group embarked on an indepth exploration to discuss and identify what the firm should look like and grow to over the coming decade. This work entailed extensive off-site workshops among the company’s eight-member leadership team and detailed sessions will every member of the company to discover the company’s ten-year vision. Overall, the 10 year vision will grow SE Group to a 50-person firm of diverse planners and analysts working broadly in the recreation/tourism markets, maintaining its preeminence within the ski industry and introducing a substantial focus on diversity and environmental sustainability in all its planning work.
“It is pertinent to foresee the future challenges that the ski area industry will face and respond to the growing call to diversity and inclusiveness,” Sharp said.
Sharp has spear-headed the vision to transform SE Group from a ski area consultancy to a diverse and multi-faceted planning and design firm, and there is no stopping him from bringing this to fruition. From creating the Alpine and Nordic venues for the 2011 Universidad in Eastern Turkey to designing 250 miles of new mountain bike and multi-use trails in Arkansas, there is hardly an aspect of the recreation planning world that SE Group is not fluent in.
When faced by the 2020 global pandemic, Sharp observed that leading in times of prosperity does not challenge us like leading a company through a pandemic and a recession simultaneously. Impressively, SE Group stayed the course and weathered admirably through the storm without reducing workforce or employee compensation, and despite the uncertainty of the year, in December 2020, SE Group was positioned to reward staff members with the largest year-end bonuses in the history of the company.
“Leading in times of prosperity is relatively easy,” Sharp said. “When times get tough is the true challenge of leadership. Surrounding yourself with a broad array of differing perspectives is critical.”
Sharp said that SE Group’s reputation within the mountain resort space is not solely about him as the leader, but rather about leadership that supports and nurtures the great work of the individuals who comprise SE Group.
“This entails constantly challenging the team and asking ourselves if we are doing things one way only because that’s how they have always been done,” Sharp said. “Leading a 63-year-old company as a start-up requires a daily focus and a commitment to discipline.”
And as he continues his quest, he said to never forget:
“Don’t try to lead alone.”
Introduced to technical rock climbing in high-school, Kent has continued to climb throughout his life. If you don't catch Kent roped-in and 2,000 feet off the ground, he's likely to be out backcountry skiing, constantly in the pursuit of the best turns possible.