EMBA Alumni Update: Stephen Packard - Cohort 15 - Senior Vice President of Power Delivery and Renewables, Kiewit Power
The corporate culture of a privately-held Fortune 500 engineering and construction company is literally changing because of the influence of Stephen Packard, UNLV EMBA cohort 15 alum.
Packard is a vice president/area manager for the Kansas City-based Kiewit Power Constructors Co. He received the promotion following graduation from the UNLV EMBA program. Working from the company’s Kansas City office and overseeing projects in Detroit, Memphis and Nashville, Packard is responsible for regulated utility clients in generation markets and projects ranging in size from $200M to $800M with annual revenues of $300M. In addition, he manages the company’s Engineering, Procurement and Construction Implementation group as well as its Renewable Energy Markets across North America. In 2019, Packard was named a Peter Kiewit Management Nominee – an honor given to only 150 people in 35 years.
As an EMBA graduate, the sharp business acuity that Packard brings to the company has had a tremendous impact on the way corporate leadership perceives ROI in higher education.
Before Packard started the UNLV EMBA program, there were Kiewit board members and executives who didn’t believe it was worth the time or resources to send employees through an EMBA program. “Now, because of my participation in the UNLV EMBA program, the company sees the value of sending high level managers through business school,” said Packard. “Even if someone says an EMBA won’t help your vertical movement, it does. People will notice the immediate growth garnered from the skills developed during class.”
Many others in the organization were impressed by the results of his UNLV EMBA education. Packard recalls, “My direct supervisor said my business acumen expanded 10-fold and a client took the time to comment, ‘I saw you grow through your time at school.’” Closer to home, Packard’s wife chimed in commenting that she had never seen him so happy.
After 17 years with one of the largest engineering companies in North America, why would an accomplished professional choose to take on the time and financial commitment required to return to school? Packard explains that, as an engineer, opportunities are limited for learning business skills like finance, marketing and economics or even general communication skills. “The UNLV EMBA immersed us in these skills for 18 months.”
During the EMBA program, Packard was overseeing a $550M project in Memphis, TN and commuting to Las Vegas for class. “For me, immediately applying newly acquired skill sets at work was like studying for a test. We had many sessions at the Memphis project where I passed on my EMBA learning experiences to team members or trained them on new subjects,” said Packard. “Overall, whether it’s a strategy meeting, applying VRIO for competitive potential, value chain for Kiewit customers, labor attraction through marketing, or my personal growth through public speaking, writing and leadership, my UNLV EMBA education has been invaluable.”
But, beyond career advancement, it was intellectual curiosity that drove Packard to reach out for more knowledge and education. “I believe the body and the mind need to continue to grow through life,” he said.
Packard considered EMBA programs at the University of Chicago and Vanderbilt, but it was his desire for a deeper connection to community that eventually made him select UNLV. “My office may be in Kansas City, but Las Vegas is my home,” said Packard.
For anyone considering the UNLV EMBA, Packard advises, “Taking on the EMBA program is not as difficult as it sounds. The program is structured to help you grow and succeed.”