Nikki Troxclair joined UNLV as the associate vice president of university communications, overseeing the editorial, web communications, and creative services units for UNLV. Her 18-year career has included positions with an engineering firm and a nationally known health care system. Her most recent higher education positions were with the University of South Carolina system and Georgia Institute of Technology.
Like many others who have joined UNLV in the last year, I believe the university is at a pivotal and exciting time in its history. From Top Tier and the School of Medicine to the presidential debate and Trop 42 land purchase, it’s an amazing time. This level of growth and initiatives taking place, all at the same time, is truly unparalleled compared to peer institutions.
Where did you grow up?
St. Paul, Minnesota
What inspired you to get into your field?
I remember, at a very young age, opening the morning paper and watching early newscasts such as the Today Show before heading off to school. I was truly fascinated by what was happening in the world — you could definitely say that I was a very precocious and curious child. I questioned everything, much to the dismay of my parents. The question “Why?” was more than a common occurrence in my household.
I believe this guided me throughout my studies and led me to major in journalism and public relations at the University of Minnesota. After I began my career in public relations, I naturally gravitated to other communications areas and moved into marketing-focused roles.
Now, nearly 20 years later, I continue to be inspired. It’s a great feeling when you can experience, first-hand, how positive communications efforts can change lives. I was fortunate to work on a few national marketing and public relations campaigns focused on the health of children — it was great to see the real-life results and outcomes — knowing that our efforts may have saved lives.
What’s the biggest challenge in your field?
Marketing and communications is always fast-paced. Couple this with ever-changing communication technologies and you have an environment that is always evolving.
Proudest moment in your life?
There are a few moments I’m fairly proud of both professional and personally. Professionally, joining UNLV is certainly a highlight and was the next step in my career. And, even though it was well over a decade ago, I was elected the state chapter president for a professional marketing association in Minnesota. At the time, I was the youngest person to ever hold the position in the organization’s national history.
Of course, I can only hope that I continue to add to the list.
One tip for success
I think there are a few things I’ve learned from my mentors throughout my career: Be genuine, approachable, and flexible. Of course, listening is a key component to being successful.
I would be remiss if I didn’t say that being willing to take on challenging roles and new experiences is very important. Throughout my career I’ve had many hands-on jobs in marketing and communications from public relations, web development, graphic design, photography, and advertising. Being open to these different experiences has allowed me to become well rounded while providing a good foundation. It has added to my ability to create complex strategic plans while having an understanding of the specific work and time it takes to complete those initiatives.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
Growing up in Minnesota, I learned how to ice skate before I learned to walk. In fact, I was a competitive figure skater for 15 years. The most difficult jump I ever landed was a triple salchow.
On the professional side, I am a LEED AP (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional) via the United States Green Building Council. I was employed with a mechanical and electrical engineering firm and oversaw the organization’s marketing and business development. We were trying to increase our portfolio of LEED-certified projects and encouraged our engineers to become accredited as it would benefit our business development efforts and project certification. I happened to be joking with the president of the firm regarding the importance of the marketing director knowing more about the process — since I was writing business proposals and building AEC teams for our projects. He challenged me to study and take the test. I am happy to report that I passed on my first attempt — something a few engineers in our firm couldn’t say.
Who was your favorite professor or teacher and why?
A former supervisor who became my mentor. After college, she started her career in customer service, not marketing or communications, for one of the world’s largest airlines. She worked her way up in the organization, ultimately becoming the vice president of global marketing. Listening to her stories and life lessons has instilled in me a sense of motivation and humility, if that makes sense. She has shown me how having a bit of tenacity, a sense of humor, and a positive outlook can take you far in life. I try to reflect those traits in my leadership style.
Who is your hero?
I’m fortunate to say that I have a few heroes in my life. I have a soft spot for those who serve and protect our country each and every day. My grandfather was one of the original Darby’s Rangers in World War II and lived through some of the toughest battles fought at that time. Very humble, he would only share a few stories when I was younger. It was only when I was older that I learned more about the Rangers’ significance in a number of history books — further realizing what he lived through and their significance in history. Because of my own research, coupled with hearing first-hand accounts from WWII veterans and current active duty soldiers, I developed a further appreciation for him and his beliefs. Funny enough, his connection to this important group in WWII led to some important milestones in my own life.
Pastime or hobbies?
My pastimes and hobbies have certainly evolved since having children 10 years ago. I used to attend a number of concerts and enjoyed many outdoor activities such as running, hiking, and golf. Now, if I’m lucky, a good book and listening to Van Morrison is nice way to decompress.