Christian Bishop - Chief Revenue Officer for Method

Christian Bishop

Las Vegas is always evolving. What began as a long distance gambling outpost is now a thriving metropolis fueled by the hospitality, technology, sports, and entertainment industries.

The city will never stop changing, but to keep up with every evolution it needs leaders like Christian Bishop. A veteran of the video gaming industry with successful stints at Level 3 Communications, Time Warner, AT&T, and Thunder Gaming, where he developed the esports and gaming news program 4Cast, Christian arrived in Las Vegas in 2018 as the Commissioner of the World Showdown of Esports for Estars Studios, an independent competitive gaming production company.

Working in tandem with gaming titans Caesars and MGM Resorts International, he led the development of a studio at the center of the Strip to “produce premium content and showcase the best of Las Vegas to millions of people around the world.”

Today, Christian is now responsible for the sales and monetization of Twitch 1st and 3rd party properties serving as Amazon's Director of Twitch Properties. Senior leadership supporting the world’s largest brands and agencies. Twitch broadcasts to 140 million unique monthly visitors with over 10 million active streamers.

Through the gaming industry Christian seeks to develop the foundation of a new online world, one that complements Las Vegas’ professional sports and entertainment offerings. He sees the EMBA program as the ideal path to not only bolstering his business acumen – statistics, microeconomics, and information technology are among the topics he’s most interested in. During his time with the program he has already launched a company and sold it in the 12th month with a seven-figure exit.

“Combine the established spirit of innovation and entertainment that is synonymous with Las Vegas with a video gaming industry that drives more revenue than TV, film, and music combined, and all I can see is the tremendous opportunity that will be afforded me by joining the talented EMBA cohort at UNLV,” Christian says.

As a member of Cohort 20, Christian represents the diversity and inclusivity that he sees in today’s video gaming culture; one that brings people together regardless of race, religion, culture, or sexual preference. At the same time, he wants to combat the toxic aspects of gaming, notably the bullying, bigotry, and ignorance that ruin the experience for gamers.

“This cold truth, and dealing with the toxic underbelly of online culture, is something I work hard to address every single day,” he explains. “So learning how to change hearts and minds through business is a skill I seek to develop at UNLV.”

While Christian’s fellow cohort members will be eager to learn from his gaming background, he’s also ready to answer questions about one of his other notable life experiences; as a contestant on ABC’s popular The Bachelorette (Season 12) and Bachelor In Paradise (Season 3) franchises.

Christian is already planning out the next exciting chapter of his career. He recently accepted a scholarship to attend the Syracuse University College of Law.

Jose Bobadilla - Convention Operations Manager, Caesars Entertainment

Jose Bobadilla

Jose J. Bobadilla spent the early part of his career in Information Technology before transitioning into the hospitality sector, where he’s worked in banquets, conventions, meetings, and events since 2008.

In that time, Jose has traveled from Hawaii, where he served as Banquet Manager at the Sheraton Waikiki and Royal Hawaiian; to a similar role as a Banquet Manager and Restaurant Manager at JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass; and now Las Vegas, where he currently serves as Convention Operations Manager for Caesars Entertainment.

The work is rewarding and the industry is exciting, but Jose always knew that his education needed to catch up to his experience.

“I wanted to pursue my bachelor’s degree after high school, but failed at first,” he explains. “Eventually, after working and meeting professionals in my industry, I decided to give it one more try.

“Once I started the ball rolling, I did not stop.”

In 2017, Jose became the first person in his family to earn a college degree when he graduated from UNLV with his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, and now he’s working to become the first in his family to earn a master’s degree. The EMBA, he explains, will fill knowledge gaps in areas such as negotiation, conflict resolution, and organizational behavior, with the goal of becoming a better manager and better decision maker for his company.

“During my undergrad, the guest speakers that came to campus, and most professors, held a master’s or PhD,” he recalls. “The knowledge and ideas they shared – [this] is something that I wanted to know.

“The EMBA will get me to think differently and be a more effective leader. I want to learn from my cohort members in other industries and see what they see from their point of view.”

Aside from his professional ambitions, Jose is hoping that he can motivate his family and friends, so that they can use their education as a foundation for future success. He is even active in UNLV’s 1st Generation Club, a group that offers a support system to first-generation students. It’s the kind of community that he didn’t have when he first attended school, and one that can be vital to boosting graduation rates.

“I had no one to relate to, and at first I was embarrassed to ask for help,” he recalls. “I think first-generation students are overlooked, and I want to inspire them.

“I like to share my story of how it was difficult at first, and I dropped out. But then I took a very hard look at myself and came back changed and determined.”

April Chapman - Director for MPC Residential for Summerlin, Howard Hughes Corporation

April Chapman

Ambition is a powerful and admirable quality that’s less about dissatisfaction with your current status and more about a deep desire to better yourself in new ways and experience new success. Ambition is what drives students to UNLV’s Executive MBA program, and for April Chapman, especially, it will motivate her to press on during the most challenging courses and classroom conversations.

April has worked across multiple business units, including hotel and multifamily development construction, land planning, infrastructure, commercial development, and even eight years in the international oil and gas, mining and metals, and life sciences industries. She enters the EMBA program with a resume of civil engineering and project management experience at multiple Fortune 500 companies, and successful roles at engineering and construction firm Fluor Corporation, and professional services giant Ernst & Young, where she “reached a career high” when she executed a corporate level review of U.S. Steel and discovered $20 million of potential savings.

She has also played a role in growing Las Vegas’ core industry, tourism, as Project Manager for Grand Canyon Development Partners. Her first project with the company was the remodeling of a hotel tower at the former SLS Las Vegas into a W Las Vegas property – a project designed and successfully completed in less than 14 months.

Currently, April serves as Director for MPC Residential for Summerlin at real estate developer Howard Hughes Corporation – “a fast-paced role,” she explains, “where I manage a team of consultants to complete the required engineering” while compiling the yearly cost books for MPC (Master-Planned Community) Summerlin West, with more than $1 billion in estimated future spend.”

Having worked in Las Vegas since 2016, raising her two children alongside her husband, April has seen the city grow and struggle in just a short period of time. Now, as the economy begins to rebound in the wake of the pandemic, April is optimistic about the future and confident in the role that she wants to play moving forward.

“My career objective is to become a Regional President or Chief Financial Officer at Howard Hughes Corporation,” she says, adding that she “loves” numbers and working with Microsoft Excel.

Like many professionals who return to school in adulthood, April knows that one’s education never really ends. There is only so much that a person can learn on the job, and joining the EMBA program will not only give her more knowledge of finance – she is hoping to better understand PNLs and “any class that touches on Capital Markets” – but also allow her to learn alongside professionals from other industries.

“Personally, I am ready for a new challenge,” she says. “Professionally, the EMBA will improve my existing knowledge base and expand my network in Nevada.”

Michael Haeseker - Course Manager, 6th CTS USAF at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada

Michael Haeseker

Michael Haeseker knows that today’s professionals want to be led, not managed. As a United States Air Force Course Manager overseeing instructional system design and training at Nellis Air Force Base, Michael is responsible for the planning, scheduling, development, and certification of course-assigned instructors, a role that requires him to take a “servant leadership” approach with his team.

“People do not respond well to threats, and you cannot force someone to do something if they do not have the proper training or proper tools,” he explains. “Servant leadership is a basic concept where leaders serve their employees by empowering them, so that their contributions help shape organizational values and decisions.

“A solid [servant leadership] philosophy should drive an environment where individuals are constantly learning and developing themselves and their teams.”

A greater understanding of leadership and a desire to learn and work alongside others in person is at the heart of Michael’s EMBA pursuit. A 1994 graduate of Eastern Washington University and the University of Nevada Reno in 2001, his degrees in marketing and supply chain management had positioned him for a future in business, until the events of September 11, 2001 changed the course of his life.

At the age of 32 Michael enlisted in the United States Army – “I went off to war, as they would say,” he recalls. He served for nearly eight years as a Forward Observer and Intelligence Officer. Upon leaving in December 2009, he went to work for the defense industry, where he has worked ever since and amassed a skillset that combines military-specific attributes such as tactical intelligence analysis, operational planning, and threat assessment with business and academic competencies such as personnel management, classroom instruction, and curriculum development.

Yet, he still harbors a desire to build upon his foundation of leadership capabilities and enhance the “soft skills” that successful leaders possess – emotional intelligence, followership, integrity, and self-awareness, among others. He had tried traditional MBA learning in the past but, “found memorization was not a value-add attribute I was looking to obtain.”

Instead, Michael sought a program that would extend past the textbook and challenge him to think beyond what he’s learned in his undergraduate studies and the military. That’s what led him to the EMBA program at UNLV, and the collaborative environment that allows him to learn side-by-side with fellow professionals and from experts in the Las Vegas business community.

“There needs to be an environment that promotes an active, high-level exchange of ideas and information,” he says. “That debate needs a qualified subject matter expert, or moderator, to help guide the discussion, so students can understand concepts and specific objectives.

“The whole goal would be less focus on the basics, and more on the nuances of business.”

Michael’s first course in the EMBA program – EMBA 701 Leadership and Team Effectiveness – will speak directly to the attributes he wants to improve, while his fellow cohort members will learn a great deal from his professional experience as a trainer and analyst.

In the end, he wants to become the kind of leader that can steer a team through the demanding and often overwhelming challenges of work and life.

“I believe it is crucial that our decision-making empowers ourselves and the individuals around us,” Michael says. “And these decisions will be guided by core values that not only serve the individual, but also the community.”

Mathew Kaplan, D.O. - Owner, Preferred Spine and Pain PLLC, Round Rock, Texas


Completing an advanced degree such as the Executive MBA is no easy feat, but Matthew Kaplan has never been one to avoid a challenge. An accomplished and learned professional with nearly 30 years of experience in the medical field, Matthew recalls the first time he was ever presented with a challenge that, at first, seemed insurmountable.

“When I was 16, I wanted a car for my birthday, [but] my parents explained that I was not getting a car and should consider another gift,” he recalls. “At the time I was a junior in high school, taking double English, aiming to graduate early, so I told my parents I wanted to become an emergency medical technician.”

After some convincing, Matthew’s mother signed him up for an EMT class at Pennsylvania State Police Academy. He was told the class had a 20 percent fail rate and that he should not have high expectations of passing.

“My mom was confident that if I can finish high school early, I would be able to finish an emergency medical technician program,” he says.

Matthew went on to finish in the top 5 percent of his class, dismissing any doubt about his ambition or understanding of the job. Still, because of his age, he couldn’t work as an EMT, so he began volunteering at a local ambulance company. His background eventually brought him to Las Vegas, where he found work at Mercy ambulance (now American Medical Response) while completing his bachelor’s degree in philosophy at UNLV.

Now, decades later, he is returning to his alma mater with a lifetime of accomplishments under his belt, including a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine at Western University of Health Sciences, a surgical internship at UMC Trauma Center in Las Vegas, two fellowships, and the establishment of his own interventional pain practice – Preferred Spine and Pain PLLC -- in Austin. He is a Board Certified Anesthesiologist and Board Certified Pain Management Specialist and remains involved in academia, publishing research on emerging techniques in his field, and growing his knowledge and skills as a pain surgeon that uses minimally invasive procedures to alleviate pain. He’s even active outside of the office, and has completed the New York City Marathon, the Philadelphia Half Marathon, and the Boston Athletic Association Half Marathon.

For this next chapter, Matthew wants to move into the field of hospital administration. As physicians “are never given classes on how to run a practice,” he views the EMBA program, which includes courses in management and finance, as one important step toward his goal.

“Running my own practice, I realized how much I do now know about business,” he says. “The field [of medicine] used to be dominated by sole-practitioners, however, the new trend is large groups of physicians joining a hospital system.

“As medicine has evolved, I decided that I needed to evolve also.”

Matthew’s familiarity with UNLV was a major factor in his decision to return to his alma mater, but he says the cohort experience also played a role. In Cohort 20, he’s surrounded by a diverse group of professionals that will challenge him to step outside of his comfort zone.

“In medicine you tend to stay with the same people – go to meetings with other physicians in your specialty, talk to other physicians that treat similar conditions,” he explains. “I believe that interacting with people that work in different fields will provide me with the diversity I am lacking in medicine.

“One thing opening my own practice has taught me is that you cannot do everything yourself. To be successful, I have learned that I must surround myself with people whose strengths are my weaknesses, making my business better.”

Vanessa Leon - Director of Marketing, Growing Generations

Vanessa Leon

Like all lifelong learners, Vanessa Leon knows that time is the one thing you can never get back, so it’s best to make the most of it and seize every opportunity that’s presented to you.

This was her mantra while attending Boston’s Emerson College, where she worked three jobs to pay rent while immersing herself in student body and co-ed fraternity activities, hosting a morning radio show, and earning her bachelor’s degree all at the same time. Bolstered by a strong work ethic and boundless curiosity, Vanessa overcame every challenge to earn her degree – “There were times that I really did have to walk uphill in the snow,” she recalls – and start a career in Los Angeles, a city that she’d never visited but became her home for more than 15 years.

“When I want something and have a goal in mind, I will work twice as hard to achieve it,” she says.

Within weeks of arriving in Los Angeles, Vanessa began work at Growing Generations, a leading surrogacy and egg donation agency. She absorbed every bit of information like a sponge and soon began to grow within the organization. Unlike professionals that find success by moving from one place to the next, Vanessa was eager to seize growth opportunities within her company, and rose from the coordinator level to Director of Marketing, the position that she holds today.

As her responsibilities grew, Vanessa recognized the need to add new skills and knowledge to her resume. Her first role at Growing Generations was client-facing, but she needed to know more about other areas such as management and marketing in order to move up. Never one to let an opportunity slip through her fingers, she committed herself to learning all she could about the reproductive industry and its business model. If she couldn’t find solutions to challenges through traditional means, she would devise them herself.

When Vanessa became more involved with the internal marketing team, she saw opportunities to create systems with which to track ROIs. Vanessa recalls, “I immediately got to work and created models that clearly outlined our cost-per-acquisition of leads and the ROI of our marketing campaigns." She took the time to teach herself how to create those models.

When not learning from her peers or self-teaching herself new business solutions, Vanessa continued to bulk up her skillset with in-person Microsoft Excel classes and an online copyediting certificate. To gain more life experience, she enrolled in an adult recreational kickball league and volunteered at a pit bull rescue in her area. More recently, she has joined the board of Family Equality, a national organization that seeks to advance legal and lived equality of LGBTQ families and for those who wish to form them.

For some people, even a modicum of Vanessa’s success would be satisfactory; but she has refused to slow down, lest she miss an opportunity for personal or professional growth.

In early 2020, when the pandemic began to impact businesses worldwide, Vanessa saw a chance to dive into another side of the business and dedicated some of her time to learn more about web development and SEO. She enrolled in a coding course, took online classes through Google Analytics Academy, and joined Together Digital, an organization that “helps connect women in tech and helps them accelerate and grow their careers.”

While working remotely last summer, Vanessa decided to make the move to Las Vegas to achieve a childhood dream and purchase a home in the same neighborhood as her sister.

“While the world was seemingly on fire all around, I did everything I could to thrive and flourish amid such a harsh backdrop,” she says. “Living in Los Angeles during a pandemic made me realize how important it was to be closer to my family.

“Moving to Las Vegas brought to light for me that there was an amazing educational opportunity being offered at UNLV.

The EMBA program, Vanessa explains, will teach her more about finance fundamentals and marketing strategies that she can apply to her career. While her courses will sharpen her business acumen, she’s looking forward to providing her unique personal and professional perspective while working with fellow cohorts.

“As a queer gender non-conforming Latinx who works in third party reproduction, I may not check many traditional societal boxes,” she says. “But I know these attributes are just some of my real-life superpowers.”

Paul Russell - Director of Financial Planning and Analysis, Smart City Networks


“There is no ‘I’ in team” is a phrase that many of us have heard since childhood. Though often linked to team sports, its meaning applies to the collaborative process that businesses need to survive and thrive, and collaboration lies at the foundation of UNLV’s EMBA program.

The appeal of an advanced degree program rooted in teamwork is what drew Paul Russell to UNLV. As Director of Financial Planning and Analysis for telecommunications company Smart City Networks, Paul is responsible for delivering financial reports, revenue forecasting, financial models, etc. – and in recent years has begun to expand and train his own team. He is also a part-time astronomy instructor at Nevada State College, and though he has years of experience teaching others, he understands that there is more to leadership and management than dictating instructions.

“Students, like employees in the workplace, have unique combinations of skills and talents, which when combined collaboratively allow them to achieve more than they could as individuals,” he explains. “Collaboration provides an opportunity to benefit from the collective skills and experiences of each participant, and we can provide each other with support and encouragement.”

As a member of Cohort 20, Paul will have numerous opportunities to collaborate during the EMBA journey, beginning with his first course: EMBA 701 Leadership and Team Effectiveness.

At the same time, his fellow cohort members will benefit from Paul’s unique background and insight. A native of the United Kingdom, he earned a master’s degree in physics and astrophysics, before advancing to postgraduate research in extragalactic astrophysics. In 2007, Paul relocated to Las Vegas and began working in finance, while continuing to teach as a means of providing “a meaningful way to contribute to the local community.”

Paul’s role at Smart City Networks allows him to touch on everything from budgeting to sales forecasting to training, but he is hopeful that the EMBA curriculum will expand his business acumen and fill some non-academic gaps on his resume. He is particularly interested in the marketing aspect of the program – EMBA 713 Principles of Marketing Strategy and EMBA 723 Applied Strategic Marketing – as he has no prior experience in that area.

Adding an intensive, 18-month EMBA program to a schedule that includes a full-time and part-time job – on top of family responsibilities – would seem an impossible task for many people. Paul sees it as the most logical and convenient path to achieving his academic objectives.

“The course schedule means that I do not have to sacrifice my career to obtain a graduate business degree,” he explains. “The EMBA is an opportunity to push myself intellectually and face a new challenge.”

Of course, the added benefit of completing the EMBA while continuing to work is that Paul will be able to apply what he’s learned in class to his professional life immediately.

“I find that I usually learn best by applying concepts practically, so this combination of work and study will help me to be a better student and employee at the same time,” he says. “The ability to implement new skills rapidly is of particular importance to me as someone working in the events and hospitality sector, while we work to restore an industry significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Joy Valle - Vice President of Leasing, International Market Centers


Resiliency is not an easy quality to showcase on a resume, but it lies at the heart of Joy Valle’s life story and her lineage. Her great grandparents were Dust Bowl farmers, she was raised by a single mother, and throughout her life she’s never shied away from a challenge – “Hustling not necessarily for greatness, but for daily survival and as a practice more than a push,” she says.

Joy’s drive to overcome whatever obstacle lands in her way is what led her to UNLV’s Executive MBA program and her place in Cohort 20. As Vice President of Leasing with International Market Centers, the world’s largest operator of premium showroom space for the Gift, Furniture, and Home Décor industries, Joy has already achieved success and gained life-changing experience in the commercial real estate, tradeshow, sales, and hospitality sectors. It has been her proudest professional achievement to be part of the team that launched the Gift and Housewares verticals within the Las Vegas Market in 2012. At the same time, she bears the scars of those professionals that have lived through the ups and downs of recessions, real estate market collapses, and, most recently, the pandemic.

Joy has survived and thrived during good times and bad. She believes that innovation comes from persistent dedication and a long-term commitment to remaining both curious and open to diverse mindsets. She knows that her education is key to remaining in that mental space and maintaining momentum.

“The opportunity to step away for a moment from the day-to-day rush and refocus and review foundational skills is a luxury in many ways; one that I know will reap huge rewards for both my company and myself,” she explains. “I have reviewed many executive programs, searching for one that would accommodate my work and meet all of my educational goals.

 “The UNLV EMBA format and design has won me over again and again.”

As a member of Cohort 20, Joy brings a background as diverse as the cohort itself. Prior to joining International Market Centers in 2012, she worked with Vornado Realty Trust and Merchandise Mart Properties with the LA Mart and California Gift Show. Previous roles at Dell, The Patina Group and Sotheby’s International Realty have also given her valuable experience and knowledge that can benefit the entire cohort. Joy has benefited a great deal by working for and alongside some truly exceptional leaders. “I am as proud of the leaders and individual colleagues I’ve worked with as I am of the companies themselves, most recently of the amazing team at International Market Centers.”

“My background is a combination of real estate, restaurants, large-scale trade shows, and events,” she explains. “So the focus of the university and their undeniable thought leadership in the hospitality and business realms make it an exciting and dynamic campus to be a part of right now.

“I am also excited about the possibility of learning new and unexpected things from my classmates – those kind of serendipitous learning moments, created by being a part of a program such as this.”

Like all cohort members, Joy is hoping the EMBA will offer alternate theories and focused challenges with which to stretch her skills, and she is most excited about EMBA 704 Technology Innovation: Theory and Practice, which, “provides an in-depth look into the potential impacts of existing and emerging information technologies on contemporary business models through lecture, case analysis, and interaction with industry guest speakers.”

“IMC has made huge investments in developing our digital platform, Juniper, and it has been so cool to see what that team is doing and how the live event itself that I work on is not being replaced but woven into the larger IMC platform, making both that much stronger and more dynamic,” she says. “It is clear there are innumerable opportunities today for us all to innovate and develop our own personal digital revolutions on both macro and micro levels.”

Along the way, Joy wants to inspire loved ones – “I think about my two daughters first, and my husband,” she says – as well as the event industry professionals that, like her, have witnessed first-hand the impact that the pandemic has had on the industry. Her success will show others the meaning of resiliency and the importance of reinventing oneself to compete with today’s evolving business practices.

“People are at the heart of everything I do, and I am constantly inspired by how the magic moments we make together easily eclipse the challenges we face,” she says. “It’s been a good foundation to base my career on so far, and I look forward to what’s ahead.”