2017 Board of Directors Election
KONRAD KAWALEC: BIOGRAPHY
I have been a member since April 2003, purchasing 180 points from Club Intrawest in Whistler whilst on a skiing holiday with my wife, and a further 120 points from Club Intrawest at Whistler in 2008. I have never disposed of any points, and currently have 300 points. I have been to Whistler, Vancouver, Blue Mountain and Palm Desert resorts and although have been a member of EE for the last three years, I have not used that service. We bought in Whistler because we were impressed by Intrawest. We have throughly enjoyed our vacations in Club Intrawest locations.
My career has been in IT, starting back in the late 80’s when I started installing computer networks. I progressed through various roles and companies, including a bluechip and the national health service and my last role was as Information Services Manager for a Housing Association in Leeds, UK, with a turnover of £12m and a staff head count of 140 over 8 sites across West Yorkshire.
For those that are not familiar with Housing Associations, they are a non-profit organisation focused on providing housing for people in housing need. We also provided supported housing for vulnerable groups. One of the key differences between the nonprofit sector and the rest of commerce is the degree of internal oversight as well as a very firm focus on ethics, values and governance. Every aspect of the business was closely monitored by the board or sub committees populated by people with a professional skill set or a ‘critical friend’ approach, including tenants and stakeholders. One of the key departments was tenant involvement and we had a robust group of tenants (residents association) that constantly reviewed our work and called us to account if we did not deliver. These tenants also worked tirelessly to engage with our 5000 tenants to ensure that they were championing the causes that were key for them.
In my tenure I project-managed and implemented telephone systems, networks, mobile working, Housing Application systems covering repairs, rents, allocations, development and Customer Relationship Management (CRM). In my role I had to understand the entire business and leverage value with IT. Amongst the hats I wore were business analyst, systems analyst, project manager, technical specialist, reporting specialist, data protection specialist, contract negotiator and business continuity planner.
I believe it is my ability to deliver services, my keen sense of morality and grounding in good governance that qualify me to run for the independent board position.
Intrawest sold their business to Diamond Resorts International. The independent members of the Club Intrawest Board, James Orr and Kenneth Smith, recommended, in their special due diligence report of 29th December 2015, to appoint DRI as the manager of the club, stating that DRI would provide better customer services, a slicker online experience, the potential to access inventory across their portfolio and to reduce costs based on economies of scale.
Each and every one of those ‘benefits’ has come up short. Dues this year were up 6.5% - well above inflation. Availability is down, Extraordinary Escapes has been pared down to a level where if you are outside North America, it’s useless. Customer Services is now made up of people in Las Vegas who have very little understanding of our properties. DRI’s administration is not ‘slicker’ it’s outstandingly chaotic. Ask anyone who didn’t have their loan payments taken on time last summer, and then were threatened with foreclosure. These are all basic things, things that a big company like DRI shouldn’t be getting wrong. Because any company that doesn’t deliver what the customer expects, doesn’t expect to keep it’s customers.
I have been involved from the start back in late November 2015 trying to figure out how this thing is run and whether any of that reflects what we thought we had bought into. I was a member of the Club Intrawest Owners Group (CIOG) and then a founding member of the Volunteer Coordinating Committee (VCC). I stepped up to the mark in March 2016 and retained Geldert Law.
As we read the GST appeal documents (at least the one’s we’ve paid to get from the CRA court - because the board hasn’t shared any information with the members until late last year - and then only to say they’re not going to say anything). Those Tax court documents clearly state that the judge sees the Embarc board controlled by DRI and not by members. So it’s not a club. It’s a subsidiary of DRI and therefore we’re not paying ‘dues’ we’re paying for a service from DRI. So we have to pay Tax on that service (Goods and Services Tax). That might be what the tax court is saying this is, but that’s not what I was sold. That’s not what Intrawest or DRI have been telling me. Thats what needs to change. I, along with the CIOG, want to see that change made a reality.
The CIOG has identified many areas of poor governance by the board of Embarc. Armed with in-depth understanding of those issues as well as regular discussion with ordinary members and what matters to them, it is of paramount importance that I gain the independent seat on the board. Once there, I will be outvoted 4:1 but I will be able to bring a truly member-centric, ethical and values-driven lens to the business of the board, and ensure that everything that can be done, will be done to re-balance the board operations.
I stood for election in June 2016, where 2 board positions were up for election, and despite gaining support from 56% of the members who voted, I came 3rd in that election. 1411 out of 2496 members voted for me - that amounted to 38,868 votes. Because the declarant gets 15:1 voting power, the declarant was able to cast it’s 250,000 votes, twice, for the two DRI employees it wanted on the board.
This year the Declarant cannot vote. This year I intend to get on the Embarc Board and start shaking things up.