EMBA Student Spotlight: Christine Deem - Partner & Director of Marketing, Sunbelt Development & Realty Partners
Christine Deem (Cohort 16) hadn’t committed to a career in business marketing when she applied for a job as a research assistant at Sunbelt Development & Realty Partners (SDRP) 11 years ago. In fact, she was well on her way to becoming a zoologist with a passion for wildlife conservation.
More than a decade later, the research assistant, turned SDRP partner and marketing director, still has a love for working with wildlife, but also finds an equally challenging and satisfying interest in the real estate and land development business sectors.
“I’ve been fortunate to work for an amazing company that gave me the flexibility to explore both passions,” said Deem. During her years with SDRP, Deem took time off to utilize her zoology background as an intern with the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. and then a position with the Wildlife Conservation Society at the Bronx Zoo in New York City.
But two insights kept tugging at Deem’s heart. “I began to realize I had developed an enthusiasm for a career in business,” she said. She also recognized that the zoology positions she held didn’t allow her to impact conservation in a significant way. “I learned that working through business and education, I could eventually make a more meaningful impact.”
Eventually, Deem returned to Las Vegas and SDRP, where she now serves as marketing director. A three-time UNLV Rebel, Deem is pursuing her Executive MBA on the same campus where she earned two undergraduate degrees in biology and political science.
Almost immediately after starting the 18-month UNLV EMBA program, Deem says she learned how to see the big picture, enabling her to make better operational decisions.
“The EMBA program is a completely different experience. I thought I knew what to expect but was very pleased by the quality of learning. I’m looking at school with an entirely different perspective,” Deem said. “Rather than simply consuming the information, I’m immediately applying it at work. I’ve gained new perspectives and solutions for real-life problems.”
Having grown in confidence with her increased repertoire of skills, Deem began to change the SDRP corporate culture, which has had a positive impact on the company with the approval and admiration of SDRP owners and her colleagues.
"Listening to employees and understanding their needs is key to being a better leader and building more effective teams – skills I honed through classwork and collaborating with my fellow EMBA cohort members throughout the program,” she said. According to Deem, the result at work has been improved productivity; an upward momentum in new business contracts; and an increase in revenues. “My bosses have even asked for copies of my EMBA text books and a debrief on the strategies behind the corporate-culture changes I recommend.”
Since beginning the UNLV EMBA program, Deem’s marketing role with SDRP has expanded significantly and the company’s owners have offered her a partnership.
Deem confides that the knowledge and skills she developed through her studies and the recognition she earned as a UNLV EMBA student were primary enablers for her most recent career advancement.
“The most challenging part of my job is managing the growth of our company and maintaining clarity in our growth strategy,” she said. “The UNLV EMBA has prepared me to see opportunities in those challenges.”
Commenting that the EMBA program is exceeding her expectations, Deem said, “I didn’t realize how truly immersive this experience would be and how passionate I am about business.”
Fortunately, Deem hasn’t given up her passion for wildlife conservation. “The UNLV EMBA program has sparked my entrepreneurial spirit. I’ve realized that the most powerful tool for wildlife conservation is education, and that’s the driving force behind my passion. I don’t know exactly how yet, but I would love to bring that mindset to this community.”
“At UNLV, your future is in your own hands and that is so empowering. The EMBA program gives you the tools to create your own path forward as opposed to just getting to the next job level,” said Deem.