EMBA Student Spotlight: Cohort 16's Jill Archunde, General Manager - The Signature at MGM Grand
When Jill Archunde (Cohort 16) arrived in Las Vegas in 1993 from a small town in New York state, she was about to begin an adventure that has lasted 25 years.
Fresh out of college with a bachelor’s degree in hotel administration from Niagara University, Archunde was reporting to her new job as a front desk clerk at the MGM Grand – one of thousands of employees who would help open the new property.
More than two decades later, Archunde is a respected leader in the MGM Resorts International corporation, serving as general manager for The Signature, where she oversees operations at the 1,728-suite hotel.
Throughout the in-between years, Archunde was offered the opportunity to take on progressively more high-profile roles with increased responsibility. Prior to the general manager role, she served as director hotel operations for MGM Grand and Skylofts, a Forbes five-star resort located on the top floor of MGM Grand. Moving up the career ladder, she also held management positions with New York, New York as well as serving as department head for the following MGM Grand departments: Luxury Sales, Front Desk, Customer Relations, Business Center and Floral. She also oversaw the consolidation of PBX and Guest Services to Customer Relations and was instrumental in executing the largest property management system conversion.
But something on Archunde’s personal professional development list was missing – an MBA. In 2003 she began an online MBA program. That same year, however, she was offered a promotion with a time commitment that made completing the program impractical.
“Unlike the UNLV EMBA program, online MBAs don’t come with a support system that empowers you to commit quality productive time to work, life and school,” said Archunde.
Fifteen years later Archunde found the chance to finish what she started. She wanted an advanced degree. “I love working for this company and there are so many incredible opportunities coming available. An MBA from UNLV has helped to increase my knowledge base and offers additional credibility to my executive profile,” said Archunde. “There are other executives at MGM who are UNLV EMBA alumni that I look up to and respect. They are living proof that an EMBA from UNLV definitely raises your professional status.”
This time around, Archunde had more than a demanding job vying for her time. She and her husband have a five-year-old daughter. “Balancing work, life and school is less a balancing act and more like a pendulum,” said Archunde. “Where the pendulum swings is where you focus. And keeping the pendulum moving smoothly takes a group effort.”
“I’m fortunate to have a family that keeps the home front running smoothly; a great team with me at Signature that steps in while I’m away for classes, and very supportive bosses. But equally important is the support and encouragement you receive from your fellow cohort members,” she said.
Observing that the UNLV EMBA program helps its students build strong relationships, Archunde said, “my fellow cohort members have helped me broaden my perspective beyond my 25 years of hospitality experience. I’ve learned as much from them as I do from the professors. We have been given access to amazing teachers and guest speakers. We have a diverse cohort in both industry representation and experience and I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to be with this team. I wouldn’t trade any of them. My fellow students generously share a depth and breadth of knowledge that would be hard to replicate elsewhere.”
Experience has shown Archunde the importance of honing well-rounded management skills, especially leadership, “which is particularly important as professionals become more senior in their organizations. The Executive MBA program is helping me build on my existing management skills; become a more versatile executive, and is positioning me for future career advancement,” Archunde said.
But, the most important ROI for Archunde? “Showing my daughter that you can accomplish anything once you set your mind to it.”