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How Alumnus Jason Wells Transformed His Life — and Earned his MBA — in a Year

By Laurie Davies

When he’s not working with entrepreneurs, you might confuse Jason Wells (MBA, 2022) for a Renaissance man. An avid outdoorsman who can whip up a gourmet dinner — or change a dirty diaper — with the best of them, he offers volunteer mentorship services to small business owners in his free time.

Oh, and that’s after immigrating to the United States, earning his MBA during the COVID-19 pandemic and becoming a first-time dad.

Wells, 37, has a lot going on. So, it’s no wonder he selected University of Phoenix’s competency-based MBA program, a degree that can be completed in under 12 months for less than $11,000. “You finish one block of courses and immediately start the next block, which I appreciated because I wanted to get it done quicker,” he explains.

Wells did a considerable amount of shopping around during the pandemic for a university skilled in online education. University of Phoenix (UOPX) fit the bill in terms of flexibility, and the competency-based MBA program impressed Wells with its twin values of quality and time savings.

Building on his experience

Before emigrating from South Africa in January 2020 and settling in Salt Lake City, Wells already had nine years of corporate management experience with Spur Corporation, a major restaurant franchiser in South Africa. As a regional operations manager for the John Dory’s brand, Wells oversaw 12 to 15 restaurants, ensuring franchise standards were met, helping with the training of staff, analyzing customer service levels and generally helping the businesses succeed.

Portrait of Jason Wells

“That job experience saved me time on my MBA,” he says. His strong background in marketing, operations and human resources allowed him to complete some of the competency assessments prior to the deadlines. That, in turn, enabled him to focus on corporate finance, accounting and subjects that required more of his time and attention. 

In other words, the structure of the competency-based program allowed him to spend less time on material he knew and more time on new subjects.

That doesn’t mean his path to an MBA was without its trials, though.

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Overcoming obstacles

Jason Wells smiling with his lovely wife and baby son


Wells’ son, Kaiden, was born in November 2021, during the last semester of Wells’ degree program. “This had its challenges and benefits. It motivated me to work harder, but a newborn baby is also a lot of work,” Wells says.

To overcome the raw fatigue and keep his mind and body sharp, Wells says he often went for a run first thing in the morning. “I would think about some of the questions I was wrestling with in my classwork, and I would think of solutions. This would get me in the zone and motivated to start my day on the right footing.”

Another obstacle was more internal, and something Wells had to work hard to press through. “A real challenge I face is that if I’m unsure about the work and I don’t understand the concepts, I’ll procrastinate. In this MBA program, because it’s so condensed, there’s no time to procrastinate. If you’re not following your pace, it’s like a marathon. If you start walking, you’re not going to make it to the finish line in the time you have available,” he says. “So, I had to get over my fear of not knowing what to do and learn how to draw the courage to reach out to my [instructors] and explain what I was struggling with.”

Several of his instructors, upon receiving a message from Wells, would hop on a call right then and there, even if it was evening.

Moving forward

Today, as Wells awaits immigration status and documents that could clear the path for him to work professionally in the States, he is content to mentor small business clients as a volunteer and take a hands-on parenting role in the life of his son.

Jason Wells at commencement with his wife and son

“It was one of the hardest things I’ve accomplished,” says the proud Phoenix. “When you push yourself to do hard things, it adds to your confidence.”

In fact, Wells is eager to take the business skills he’s added to his repertoire and apply them as a consultant with small businesses. “I’ll feel more confident once business opportunities arise that I can put myself through challenges,” he says. A self-described closet entrepreneur, he also has ideas on testing out a few of his own products in the health, nutrition, and food and beverage industries.

For now, he’s content volunteering to help small business owners succeed. He feels sure his turn will come. And when it does, he says, he has greater business acumen and confidence as a result of his University of Phoenix degree. 

You can catch more of Wells’ thoughts when Amazon’s The College Tour airs its episode featuring University of Phoenix in June 2023.


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