MBA Students and Alumni

From left to right: Andy Donahue, JD/MBA Graduate '23; Xurong Liu, MBA student; Kevin Davis, MBA student; Aaryn Masangcay, B.S. in Graphic Design & Media.


Jun. 4, 2024

On January 10, 2024, during an orientation mixer at local lounge Blue Martini — a networking event designed to connect students, faculty, staff, and alumni from the Lee Business School’s MBA program — an unexpected encounter led to an opportunity for a unique collaboration.

While discussing professional experiences and future projects, MBA students Kevin Davis and Xu Liu and 2023 JD/MBA graduate Andy Donahue decided to work together on a project after discovering a shared interest in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). It concentrated on critical aspects of business management, including enhancing brand visibility and exploring leadership roles within the sports industry.

As an alum, Donahue was keen on giving back to the community that shaped his career and provided substantial support. He facilitated a tour of an event setup, discussed various marketing strategies and activations, and introduced the students to the promotion's executive leadership, enriching their educational experience with practical insights from the industry.

"I was glad to bring them on a tour of the event when it was set up. We saw how different activations and ads are implemented and broadly discussed costs," Donahue remarked, highlighting the practical learning opportunities afforded to the students.

MBA Students Learn How to Create Business Plans, Grow Partnerships

UNLV’s MBA program is designed to prepare students for leadership roles across various industries by blending theoretical knowledge with practical applications. Through real-world projects and internships with local businesses, startups, and major corporations, students gain hands-on experience that enhance their learning and career readiness.

The program offers flexible scheduling options, including evening classes and customized part-time tracks, accommodating full-time students and working professionals. Its extensive alumni network and strong connections with business leaders provide students with unparalleled access to mentorship and job opportunities.

Liu and Davis’ project merged rigorous academic study with the exciting world of MMA, was supported by Donahue's office through The Laborers-Employers Cooperation and Education Trust (SNLECET). Additionally, the partnership included collaboration with Tuff-N-Uff, a respected MMA promotion and a known feeder for UFC events. 

The Culmination of Hard Work

As their self-guided project progressed throughout the spring semester, Davis and Liu sought to incorporate a creative perspective to enrich their learning experience further. Having worked with him on previous collaborations, they decided to bring in graphic design student Aaryn Masangcay. It didn’t hurt that Masangcay already had experience in MMA marketing. He was tasked with creating the graphics for promotional materials.

At the end of the semester, with the details of their plan finalized, their journey culminated in a seminar where the trio presented how their studies applied to the dynamic MMA environment. The seminar also served as a platform for presenting tailored marketing plans and strategic suggestions for the partnership. These included proposals for new promotional campaigns, enhancements to digital marketing efforts, and innovative ways to engage fans both online and at live events. The detailed plans aimed to boost the promotion's visibility and fortify its reputation as a premier feeder for UFC events, leveraging both traditional and digital media strategies.

After a thorough review session following the event, the team is planning the next phase with Tuff-N-Uff. The ongoing interest in sharing observations and recommendations has fueled excitement for continued collaboration.

The momentum and relationships built have extended the scope of their work, promising ongoing engagement and iterative improvements based on real-world feedback. This continuation beyond the initial timeframe reflects the project’s adaptability and sustained relevance to academic and professional realms.

Efforts like those by Davis, Liu, and Masangcay are a testament to the MBA program's commitment to providing practical, interdisciplinary educational experiences that prepare students to become future leaders in business and beyond. As academic disciplines increasingly overlap, the program underscores the immense potential of interdisciplinary collaboration to shape future business practices and strategies.

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