EMBA Alumni Update: Amanda Klein - Cohort 12, Marketing Director, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nevada
From career advancement to advocating for women’s access to genetic cancer research programs and competing in the Mrs. Nevada-America pageant, Amanda Klein from Cohort 12 has done it all. But she says “getting an EMBA from UNLV in 2014 has had a positive impact on every aspect of my life, from the whimsical to the significant. It’s hard to put a value on that kind of uplift.”
Six months before graduation from the UNLV EMBA program, Klein was contacted by a national job recruiter for her current position as marketing director for Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nevada. “Anthem is a great company to work for. The benefits and compensation of my new role exceeded the tuition cost of my EMBA. Essentially, it was an immediate return on my investment,” said Klein.
It’s not surprising that an EMBA from UNLV can lead to financial gain, but for many alumni, it’s not solely about the money. “You reach a point in your career when it’s time to examine what you really value in life,” Klein said. “Often pursuing an advanced degree is about acquiring the judgement, confidence and resilience to make a bigger impact within your industry and community.”
Klein turned to the UNLV EMBA program at a time in her career when she sought a more well-rounded perspective and understanding of business. “The EMBA experience prepared me to take on broader leadership roles,” she said. “EMBA programs help executive-level professionals understand the impact of their own leadership style, and gives them the knowledge and skills to move from simply managing their careers to being confident and effective leaders. That’s powerful stuff.”
When Klein enrolled in the EMBA program, she was serving as the assistant vice president of marketing at the 730-bed Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center. It wasn’t long after adding that she was pursuing an EMBA degree to her LinkedIn page that she began hearing from professional recruiters. “There’s no doubt that my EMBA sent a strong signal to the marketplace that I was accelerating my professional growth,” said Klein.
Learning more about her own strengths, weaknesses and potential was one of the key benefits of the UNLV EMBA program for Klein, who says that as a result, she’s able to choose career paths that capitalize on her strengths.
As marketing director for Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Klein oversees the marketing efforts for individual, small group and large group commercial business in Nevada. She has built relationships with leaders throughout the organization as well as in the broker and employer community, routinely meeting and working with executives across diverse industries and functions.
“The UNLV EMBA program exposed me to industries, personalities, problems and solutions that I hadn’t previously encountered. So, in my current role, whether I’m meeting with insurance brokers, CEOs or chief financial officers, my EMBA experience well prepared me to deal with a variety of people and situations. I can now better and more succinctly present the value of my company’s products in a way that speaks directly to a customer’s specific needs.”
Beyond the academics, Klein prizes the EMBA’s emphasis on the importance of community stewardship. It’s an inspirational lesson she took to heart and has put into action. Motivated by her mother’s battle with breast cancer, Klein’s passion and life mission is to expand genetic research; increase the number of women in cancer research studies, and to eventually eliminate cancer through genetic discovery and preventative health care. It’s a tall order, but one that Klein takes very seriously and is equipped to tackle.
She sits on the board of the American Cancer Society of Southern Nevada and has recruited four fellow EMBA alumni to join the cause as members of the organization’s Associate Board of Ambassadors. Klein’s association with UNLV has paved the way for her to meet with university faculty members and researchers who are working in the field of genetics, specifically with the Nevada Institute of Personalized Medicine at UNLV.
"Being involved with the UNLV Executive MBA and Lee Business School has given me access to a broader network of people,” Klein said. “It is literally helping me to make the world a better place.”
She plans to work closely with physicians and geneticists to expand research being conducted on gene mutations linked to cancer, such as BRCA1, BRCA2, and ATM. BRCA1, often referred to as the breast cancer gene, and made famous by celebrities like Angelina Jolie and Christina Applegate.
On the lighter side, “I can say with 100 percent certainty that I am the only UNLV EMBA graduate to credit the program with my beauty pageant success,” said Klein. In March, she was fourth runner-up in the Mrs. Nevada-America pageant. “It was the EMBA program that gave me the focus I needed to lose 25 pounds and stand before an audience of 500 people in an evening gown and swim suit.”
“But, seriously,” Klein said, “during the EMBA program, my fellow cohort members and I often were called on to dig quickly and deeply into subject matter totally unfamiliar to us. We were then expected to make extremely persuasive presentations. This experience gave me the skills, poise and self-confidence to successfully present my platform to pageant judges.”
In regards to coming in fourth, “I’m thrilled!” said Klein. “The EMBA experience taught me you don’t always have to win; you just need to be constantly improving.” Klein will participate in the Mrs. Nevada United States pageant in May.
“I can’t say enough about the UNLV EMBA program. It has laid the foundation for the rest of my life,” said Klein. As for her future career and life choices, “Right now, I’m fearlessly embracing the unknown – another lesson learned at UNLV.”