EMBA Faculty Feature: Nikkole Liesse, MBA - Executive Director, Lee Business School Office of Online and Executive Education and EMBA Instructor: EMBA 713 Principles of Marketing Strategy - EMBA Cohort 7 Alumna
Nikkole Liesse has a 360-degree perspective of the UNLV Executive MBA program. She’s a proud alumna graduating with Cohort 7 in 2009; has served as director of the EMBA program since 2013; and most recently took up the mantle of professor, teaching EMBA 713 Principles of Marketing Strategy.
This spring, Liesse also was promoted to executive director of Lee Business School’s new Office of Online and Executive Education. The new office brings under one umbrella the college’s undergraduate and graduate digital learning offerings, executive education, professional certificate programs and its continuing education.
LEE currently provides online courses, and by consolidating management of its digital programs under one office, “We’re developing a laser-clear strategy for what’s being offered,” said Liesse. “There are still a lot of people right here in the Las Vegas valley who are considering or reconsidering college. Offering the flexibility of online learning, or a hybrid of online and on-campus courses, provides them with quality options for obtaining higher education degrees or career advancement courses.”
Liesse is working closely with both technology experts versed in online instructional design and UNLV faculty in the development of the online courses.
She remains at the helm of the UNLV EMBA program overseeing all aspects, including student recruitment, student experience, alumni relations and program marketing. During her tenure with the program, Liesse has increased annual program inquiries by 24% percent and enrollment by nearly 20% percent.
Still a relatively young program with upwards of 300 graduates, UNLV EMBA’s reputation has become its strongest marketing tool. “Applications for the program are at an all-time high,” said Liesse. “And, we’re seeing more and more diverse cohorts comprised of professionals from all areas of business, as well as gender parity rarely seen in EMBA programs.”
Even with the steadily rising interest in the program, Liesse comments that UNLV EMBA is committed to maintaining a small cohort size – between 25 and 30 students. “We like to say that we are a very high-touch program,” she said. “The UNLV EMBA program offers a concierge-experience where all administrative-type necessities are taken care of so students can concentrate solely on their education. We make it a practice to supply the classroom with students’ favorite drinks and to celebrate each student’s birthday with personalized cakes. It’s the little differences that make for a wonderful experience in and out of the classroom.”
As director of the UNLV EMBA program, Liesse helps prospective students “find their path,” she said. Meeting personally with EMBA applicants, she considers it a priority to understand their career and life goals.
“Most people are coming into the program because they are looking to move up the corporate ladder or make a career change,” said Liesse. “They might want to move out of the industry they’re in or take on the responsibilities of a totally new function, so they’re seeking out our EMBA program to gain the skills, knowledge and confidence to make a move.”
Liesse’s leadership has not gone unnoticed. “I can’t say enough about Nikki’s leadership of the program,” said Michael Sullivan, Ph.D., UNLV Graduate Program Advisor and a UNLV Lee Business School faculty member since 1991. “Under her guidance, the program has gained an international reputation, and the diversity of professions within cohorts has enriched the educational experience for all EMBA students.”
On teaching her first EMBA course, Liesse says she has a new appreciation for the faculty and the thought it takes to create an engaging, interactive course suitable for executive level students. And, she would definitely do it again. Liesse initially dipped her toe into teaching by participating in the Cox Communications/Lee Business School Small Business Leadership Academy where she taught classes on Brand, Social Media and Marketing.
Prior to joining UNLV, Liesse was the marketing director for The Howard Hughes Corporation, developer of the 22,500-acre master-planned community of Summerlin in Las Vegas. During her six years with Hughes, she introduced new and innovative marketing tools and techniques to the organization and industry, resulting in cost savings and investments in cutting-edge technology.
UNLV EMBA alumni Andrew Kerzmann (Cohort 15) says of Liesse: Nikki is the heart the program. She makes it easy for the students to focus on learning.