EMBA Alumni Update: Dianna Klein - Cohort 15, First Officer, United Airlines

Dianna Klein with NAWMBA Board Members and Mayor Goodman

Jan. 30, 2018


UNLV Executive MBA Helps United Airlines Pilot Soar


As a pilot for United Airlines, Dianna Klein (EMBA Cohort 15) is well acquainted with the view from 35,000 feet. But she knew she needed that level of business perspective to achieve her goals of becoming a more business-minded aviation professional and eventually launching her own business. So, she enrolled in the Executive MBA (EMBA) program at UNLV’s Lee Business School.

Traveling at high speed in the air, Klein’s “on-the-ground” life is just as fast-paced. It was only last month she graduated from the 18-month EMBA program. During her time in the program, she moved from Houston to Las Vegas; had a baby; flew international flights; and launched a non-profit!

In February 2017, Klein formed the Las Vegas chapter of the National Association of Women MBAs. Spurred to action by the support and friendship she experienced with the other women in her EMBA cohort, Klein said, “When women come together to support one another in a safe environment, things get done; changes get made, and the world is made better.” Welcoming both women and men, Las Vegas NAWMBA embraces “all who support women in business,” she added.

Proud of how far the Las Vegas NAWMBA chapter has come in such a short time, Klein noted the very active board includes many members of her EMBA cohort and has sponsored such successful and informative events as a well-attended luncheon featuring Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman.    

Professionally, Klein sees major changes taking place in aviation. “Emerging technologies will bring about more automation integration into the pilot profession. Pilots may soon be integrating their workflows with AI (artificial intelligence). It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when.”

“Today those forward-looking technology decisions are being made by engineers and business executives with little input from pilots,” Klein said, who aspires to take an active role in the future of flight. With a UNLV EMBA education, combined with her years in the air and masters in aviation from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, “I will bring both a business and pilot perspective to the process.” 

In the present, Klein credits her EMBA experience with enhancing her leadership, management and communications skills. “The average passenger doesn’t realize how many people it takes to get a plane off the ground and how often pilots work as part of that team of individuals to make a flight happen,” she said.

With career advancement top-of-mind, Klein expects to upgrade to Captain within six months. "I'm very happy and comfortable flying my regularly scheduled trips. Being able to help facilitate the transition to new technologies and, as a result, help my fellow pilots and our customers would be icing on the cake." It’s in operations that Klein is truly putting her EMBA into play to understand the business intricacies required to keep an airline running and profitable, planes in the air, employees happy and passengers content.

Klein joined United Airlines in 2007 after serving for nine years in the U.S. Air Force Reserves flying the C-5 Galaxy, a large military transport aircraft during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

During her time as a commercial pilot, Klein opened an aviation safety consulting firm “that didn’t fully take off,” she said. “Because of my UNLV EMBA, I now know what I did wrong starting with an ah-ha moment in the marketing course, specifically branding. I named the firm Shenandoah Aviation. Customers couldn’t even spell it much less remember it for an email address. I also know a lot more now about business planning and accounting, so I’m much better prepared to re-enter and succeed in the entrepreneurial world.”

When UNLV EMBA prospective students ask Klein about the demands of juggling work, life and school during the EMBA program, Klein humorously explains that she had her first EMBA interview on the day her furniture arrived from Houston; started classes the day she began her maternity leave from United; missed two finals because she was in labor, and four days after giving birth to her son, took make-up exams – passing with flying colors.

“It’s all about the tremendous support you get from fellow cohort members, the faculty and especially Nikkole Liesse, EMBA director and program graduate,” Klein said. Her advice to anyone considering an UNLV EMBA, “For a young program that’s already listed by CEO Magazine as a “Tier One” school in their global EMBA category, the UNLV EMBA education is top-notch.”