Whether she’s planning cultural activities for tourists, raising two boys, or consulting for companies in American Samoa, the life path of BYU Marriott EMBA alumna Noelani Wayas has taken exciting twists and turns.
One of those twists was the opportunity to work as a “director of fun” at a Westin Resort on the island of Maui in Hawaii. While there, Wayas created experiences for guests staying in the resort’s 756 rooms. “I set up a recreation program that perpetuated the Hawaiian culture and the true spirit of Aloha,” she says.
Another turn in Wayas’ life occurred when she applied for the BYU Marriott EMBA program. At the time, she was a single mother of two sons, and she worked full-time. She knew that pursuing an advanced degree would be a challenge, but she seized the opportunity to seek a better life for her family.
In a BYU Marriott EMBA program info session that Wayas attended, Treavor Peterson, the managing director of the MBA department, encouraged those attending to believe that they were capable of earning their degrees. He told the students they could do anything they set their minds to.
“Those words impacted me because many women struggle with feeling good enough,” says Wayas. “I decided that I don't ever want to disqualify myself from any opportunity that may come.” Even though the program would require hard work, she knew that she would be able to earn her degree.
While earning her MBA degree, Wayas often made sacrifices in order to complete her schoolwork in addition to her other responsibilities. She wanted to show her children that they could do anything with faith in God. “I wanted my kids to see that regardless of what life circumstances bring you, you can pursue your dream,” says Wayas. “The Lord will provide ways to accomplish anything that’s in His plan.”
Even though she knew getting her degree would be challenging, Wayas knew that the EMBA program would refine the tools that she needed to create her ideal job. “In the letter of intent I submitted when I applied for the program, I spoke about being Inspector Gadget. He could pull out tools in any circumstance that helped him get out of dangerous situations,” says Wayas. “I felt like I was Ms. Gadget. I had many tools, and I wanted to sharpen them.”
In the EMBA program, Wayas discovered that she thrived in marketing and leadership coaching. After graduation, she has worked as an independent consultant for companies to help them improve their leadership development and marketing strategies.
Recently, Wayas’ journey took her to American Samoa for six months where she consulted for two small businesses. “I helped a business with organizational development and an overall rebrand,” she says. “Additionally, I was able to use my leadership development skills to align individual employee performance with their job responsibilities and expectations, resulting in an elevation of company-wide performance.” Since returning to live in Utah County, Wayas has continued to work with the businesses in American Samoa remotely along with another business in Arizona.
Wayas loves that her current work as an independent consultant allows her the freedom to set her own schedule and generate creative solutions to problems. “I entered the EMBA program because I wanted more in life, and I wanted to know what my future looked like,” she says. “Now, because of my experience at BYU Marriott, my future and my success feel more sure than ever.”
Writer: Kenna Pierce