Kit Szybala is a learned man, with a degree from Southern Methodist University in finance and international studies and a minor in history. He studied abroad in Oxford. So how come his initial job out of college was at a Vail ski resort?
Simple. Vail introduced Szybala to the hospitality industry that he then chose as a career.
“At Beaver Creek Resort, I was trained to provide world-class service to guests and learned the intricacies of resort operations. I believe it’s important for anyone in our industry to have firsthand hospitality experience, as I still rely on what I learned there in my job today,” he says.
The Clayton, Missouri native parlayed Vail and his extensive education into a position with Denver-based Global Market Advisors, his home since 2012.
As a Hunt Leadership Scholar at SMU, Szybala met distinguished leaders in various fields. “My professors at SMU were also key in helping me develop a skill set that would be useful in my future career,” he says.
At the University of Oxford, he took part in the tutorial method, which focused on very small group teaching sessions. Students completed weekly essays, read them aloud to the professor, and received immediate feedback and critiques. “You’re encouraged to defend your findings,” Szybala says.
Szybala grew with GMA to his current position as a partner and executive director of research and operations, where he oversees, among other elements, feasibility studies, due diligence assignments, strategic planning assessments, and market assessments around the world.
He leads seminars to industry stakeholders at the University of Nevada, writes articles for gaming publications including Global Gaming Business, and authors white papers such as “Gaming in India: An Evaluation of the Market’s Potential and Japan Integrated Resorts.”
“I frequently participate in industry conferences as a panelist, moderator and presenter,” he says.
If Szybala experienced an obstacle in his rise in gaming, it’s because he entered the industry without prior experience and connections. “The gaming and hospitality industries have their own unique characteristics, not well understood by outsiders,” he says, “and a small network of stakeholders.”
But a relevant background and strong mentors helped him surpass this obstacle.
GMA Managing Partner Steve Gallaway and Senior Partner Andrew Klebanow have been his biggest mentors.
“They provided me with the opportunity to start working in the gaming industry as an analyst, and have since given me the knowledge, insights, tools and direction to succeed as a consultant,” says Szybala, who hikes and fly-fishes with his fiancée and dog for recreation.
Szybala expects his role with GMA to grow as business expands for existing clients and extends into new sectors. He also hopes to work more with academic institutions.
For budding industry consultants, Szybala suggests an education that is analytically focused and writing-intensive.
“As a consultant, I’ve found that it is equally important to have both of these skills, allowing you to quickly and accurately analyze any given situation or data set and clearly articulate your findings in a written report,” says Szybala, who is still an avid skier. “I also think they should participate in activities that provide new experiences and different perspectives.”