Vanessa Leon
Mar. 10, 2023


No one knows what the future brings, but Vanessa Leon knows one thing: she’s fully prepared for whatever lies ahead.

The UNLV Executive MBA graduate, who just completed the program in December 2022, greeted the New Year with a “toolkit to make better decisions” and the opportunity to take her career to new heights; and it’s all thanks to the decision she made after moving to Las Vegas.

“I moved here in August 2020 from Los Angeles, and I’d been researching different EMBA programs,” Vanessa recalls. “[UNLV] just seemed like a really good fit that would work with my schedule.

“I really liked the concierge approach to it. I knew other friends that had gone to grad school, but none of them had enjoyed the concierge experience that UNLV offers.”

Growing On the Job

Vanessa has spent her career climbing the ladder at Growing Generations, a surrogacy and egg donation agency that helps families make their dreams of parenthood come true. She began as a coordinator, and has been Director of Strategic Development since 2015.

Though she’d come so far, she knew that a business education would take her to the next level.

“I needed more experience and to really learn about business and how companies are actually run,” Vanessa says. “I wasn’t as familiar with accounting, or how businesses function at the international level.”

Not only would the EMBA give her the business skills and knowledge needed to compete at a higher level, she knew it would also expose her to fellow professionals in industries beyond life sciences.

“Ours was a pretty diverse cohort and nobody had the same background,” Vanessa recalls. “There was a doctor, someone who worked in finance, esports, banquets and catering, even an instructor from Nellis Air Force Base.

“That was really cool, learning about esports and how master planned communities are developed, or the latest spinal surgeries.”

Getting to interact with fellow cohort members allowed Vanessa to expand her soft skillset. She now feels that she’s able to make more informed decisions in her work and personal life, and what she’s learned in her classes – notably her finance education – has already helped her grow on the job.

“I’ve incorporated some capital budgeting into my work, creating cash flow models, and models that show what kind of business we can expect to do in the future,” she explains. “I was doing some of that before the program but I didn’t have that background, so the EMBA has really helped me hone those skills, and it’s been really valuable.”

Ready for What’s Next

As Vanessa reflects on her EMBA experience, she’s proud to have made the commitment to return to school. She’s equally grateful for the friendships and contacts that she made during her time in the program.

“I did learn a lot in the classroom, but I also learned a lot from these individual relationships,” she says. “It’s interesting, because I think being in the EMBA program opened some doors for me in places that may have been open before, but this really solidified those opportunities for me.”