Kraus: How to have a ‘real job’ in Vail (column) |

Kraus: How to have a ‘real job’ in Vail (column)

Elizabeth Kraus
Valley Voices

I am a 37-year old venture capitalist. I invest across the country, so I am not bound by location. In 2017, I made the commitment to spend the majority of my time in Vail. I have been pleasantly surprised by the number of people pursuing interesting careers in this valley. It is easier to have a “real job” in Vail than many think. To illustrate, I asked myself and three other Vail locals to answer two questions:

What is the most impactful and unexpected benefit of pursuing your career in Vail?

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome to relocate here?

Below are our answers.

Elizabeth Kraus, Chief Investment Officer, MergeLane

As a venture capitalist, I am in the business of finding extraordinary talent. I am frequently surrounded by high-achieving, inspiring people, but I have never experienced a level of inspiration as I have in Vail. This is a community of Olympians, CEOs and world-renowned artists, philanthropists and more. Vail’s inspiring citizens are diverse, accessible and generous. They are the perfect antidote to even the most discouraging moments.

While I can work remotely, my husband is a CFO for startup technology companies and he prefers a more traditional office environment. Few Vail businesses are a fit for him. We’ve addressed this by splitting our time between Boulder and Vail. I live in Boulder during the shoulder seasons and he comes to Vail on the weekends. This works for us. We spend far more quality time together and time away does make the heart grow fonder.

Ben Hadley, SVP Business Development, Cooley

I once heard an adage to move to where you are happy, and the money and job will follow. In 2008, I relocated to Vail from Pasadena, California. It took a while, but I eventually found a job and the adage has proved to be true for me.

I had a career in digital media and software before moving to Vail. When I first moved here, it was challenging to find a “tribe” of tech operators, founders and investors. The co-working movement had not yet gained traction. In the past 11 years, however, the valley has created more places to support the creative class. Many stakeholders are committed to creating more year-round jobs that are not dependent on the ski and tourism industry.

Patty White, VP of Development, Walking Mountains

One of the most impactful and unexpected benefits of pursuing my career in Vail is how synergistic my work and play have become. I’ve always dreamed of being able to develop relationships while enjoying my passion for skiing, hiking and cycling. Outdoor sports provide the perfect way to organically get to know people. The donors with whom I work often become friends; and many of my friends become donors to Walking Mountains. It’s truly fulfilling to spend my career in a community committed to the environment we all enjoy.

Fundraising is based on relationships, and I had almost none when I moved here. I had to quickly “jump in” to any and all activities. The first six months were daunting. However, Vail is so warm and welcoming. As a riff on the phrase about coming to Vail for the winter and staying for the summer, I like to say that “I knew I’d love the mountains. I had no idea how much I would adore the people.” My relationships in work and play are now bountiful and authentic.

Gretchen Brigden, Chief Operating Officer, Macro Intelligence 2 Partners

Our firm provides macroeconomic research for global financial institutions. We moved the company to Vail from the New York City area in 2015. As a boutique financial institution in the New York City area, we were not unique. In Vail, we are able to attract high-quality employees because we offer competitive compensation and the opportunity for professional growth. Clients are indifferent. When I am asked what I do, people are always intrigued.

The biggest challenges were largely just perceived risks. Our clients are located around the world but the largest number are on the East Coast and in London. Our senior research team has always worked remotely, so they were not a significant concern. Our clients have been 100 percent supportive. We do more conference calls and videos. We have grown our local team by hiring three young professionals. We are fortunate. Our staff is wonderful and talented.

Elizabeth Kraus can be contacted at

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