40 Under 40 Alumni: Nikkole Liesse and Max Tappeiner

Nikkole Liesse, director of the Executive MBA Program at the UNLV’s Lee Business School, poses on campus Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017.

Nikkole Liesse

Director of the Executive MBA program at UNLV’s Lee Business School

Where were you when you received your 40 Under 40 award? I was marketing director for the Howard Hughes Corp., developer of the 22,500 acre master-planned community of Summerlin.

Where are you now? I graduated from the Executive MBA program at UNLV in 2009 and was recruited for the program’s leadership position in 2012. I oversee all aspects of the EMBA, including student recruitment, curriculum, student experience, alumni relations and program marketing.

What do you want to accomplish? I want to bring more executive education opportunities to the business community. There is a demand for short (no more than five days), intense courses on specific subjects in business such as finance, big data, entrepreneurship and digital marketing. On a personal note, I intend to begin law school in fall of 2018 at UNLV’s William S. Boyd School of Law. Earning a law degree has always been a personal goal of mine and will expand the way I think about contracts, intellectual property and the business environment in general.

Who is your business hero, local or global? I have always admired Rob Roy of Switch. When I was a student in the EMBA program, we learned about this super secret data center built in the old Enron broadband center. I respected his vision then for seeing the opportunity in that space. Now, less than 10 years later, Switch is far from a secret, with data centers across the globe, and Mr. Roy is one of the most interesting innovators, entrepreneurs and philanthropists in our community. Switch’s focus on sustainability, corporate social responsibility and diversity at the executive level are examples that, I predict, we’ll be using as cases in MBA classes in the future.

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Max Tappeiner, vice president of hotel operations at Venetian/Palazzo, poses in a Chairman Suite in the Palazzo Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017.

Max Tappeiner

Vice President of Hotel Operations, Venetian and Palazzo; President of the Las Vegas Business Academy

Where were you when you received your 40 Under 40 award? I had just started in my current role with the Venetian and Palazzo, overseeing the hotel operation. It was quite the adjustment going from Mandarin Oriental — a boutique luxury environment — to the largest hotel operation in the U.S. Here I am almost two years later and I could not be happier in my role, working in an environment of high performance with a team of the most talented individuals in the industry.

What’s your biggest accomplishment since you received the award? Professionally, we keep setting new records in 2017 in most key performance indicators in my business unit, which is exciting. However, I take greater pride in seeing my management team excel and become a cohesive unit moving swiftly and strategically in one direction. Personally, I couldn’t be more proud of the young man that my son has become. For the first time I can see the dividends of the parenting efforts, which couldn’t be more fulfilling. Philanthropically, we have made great progress at the Las Vegas Business Academy. We now have close to 15 students who have graduated or are actively in the program, and we recently welcomed an engineering fellow who will further complement the diversity of the program.

What’s the best advice you can offer? This was shared by a fellow board member at the Las Vegas Business Academy with our students. I took it to heart as well: “Work hard, do right by others and keep your head down. One day, you look up and you run the company.”

If you ran Las Vegas, what’s the first thing you would do? Renewable energy! With an average of 294 days of sunshine per year, it is a shame that we do not power our entire city with solar power.