EMBAs in the Making: Ashley Farkas
As Public Relations Director for MGM Resorts International, Cohort 13 member Ashley Farkas has a big job. She develops and oversees media relations for all food and beverage initiatives at the company’s Las Vegas properties. The impressive list includes Bellagio, ARIA, Vdara, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, Delano Las Vegas, The Mirage, Monte Carlo, New York-New York, Luxor, Excalibur and Circus Circus.
Why did this accomplished professional on an exciting career path with one of the world’s largest gaming and hospitality companies choose to pursue an EMBA? “The big picture I’ve gained about business at UNLV’s EMBA program is invaluable,” Farkas said.
“As I continue to advance in my career, it’s important to be a well-rounded professional. I may never know everything about finance, accounting or law, but by gaining a better understanding of each field, I can collaborate more effectively with other departments throughout my organization. Since beginning the EMBA program, the quality of my contributions has increased significantly. I’ve learned to challenge my own decisions in order to offer results-oriented solutions, and I’m a better professional because of it.”
Like many established professionals who choose to return to school for an advanced degree, Farkas considered MBA programs at such esteemed universities as the University of Chicago and UCLA. However, she wanted an educational experience that provided a real sense of community and offered the opportunity to learn with and from other high-performing executives from diverse industries. UNLV met those needs and more.
“The knowledge I’ve gained from my peers takes learning to another level,” said Farkas. “It’s an interesting process to collaborate with executives from varying organizations and industries because everyone has a different way of studying, explaining a concept or completing an assignment. The biggest lesson to learn is that it’s not always going to be your way. Just like in a business setting, it’s teamwork that gets the job done.”
Farkas also saw the advantage of an EMBA program that connected directly to her daily job responsibilities, especially in the areas of organizational behavior, management and teamwork. “Managing and working with people is one of the most challenging tasks in a corporation,” she said. “Understanding how to get along effectively in order to accomplish a goal together is critically important as you move throughout your career.”
But perhaps the biggest impact of the program for Farkas “is the importance of strategy in everyday decisions,” she said.
"It’s been interesting to read case studies about organizations that were quick to act but did not think long-term about the impact of their actions, which in many cases resulted in employee turnover, a tarnished brand image and loss of revenues. It’s imperative to have a strategic plan in place so that all functions within a corporation can understand the goals, expectations and projected outcomes of any new business venture.”
With two-thirds of the 18-month program completed, Farkas is looking toward a future of endless possibilities.
“The program opens your eyes to new skills, new friends, new insights and new career opportunities that you may never have thought possible," she said. "Going through the UNLV EMBA experience has shown me that I can do anything I want. I can confidently face any challenge, job or task put before me. Bring it on!”