Embracing the Unexpected

PROVO, Utah – Sep 05, 2018 – When Stan Wilson left BYU in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting, he did not anticipate returning to the university for an extended stay. Like many BYU Marriott students, Wilson’s plans after graduation included a long, successful business career, during which he would implement the skills and knowledge obtained from his program.

But in spite of his belief that he would have only one career over his lifetime—and independent of a successful run in the business world—Wilson learned that life does not always go according to plan. Now, more than thirty years later, the BYU alum is back where his collegiate education began, working as manager of the BYU Marriott Undergraduate Advisement office.

“I never expected to be in the academic world during my career,” Wilson says. “I was busy doing things away from BYU after I graduated and was not really a part of the university once I left.”

So how exactly did Wilson end up back at BYU? Following graduation in 1985, Wilson returned to his home state of Oregon and began working for Columbia Helicopters—a heavy-lift helicopter operator based out of the Portland area. He began as the assistant controller and quickly moved up in the organization, working as CFO for fifteen years before spending two additional years as president.

The experience sounds like any business person’s dream, but the story has a minor detail worth mentioning.

“I commuted from Utah to Oregon for three years as CFO and president,” Wilson recalls. “I was up there and back every week.”

The commuting began when Wilson moved to Utah to accommodate a family situation. Each week he flew out early Monday morning and returned late Thursday evening, working from Provo on Friday.

Eventually, the experience proved to be too much of a challenge for Wilson and his family, so he transitioned from president to chairman of the company, dropping his workload from eighty hours a week to only ten. That life-altering decision left Wilson wondering what he was going to do with all of his free time. In his search to find an answer, Wilson found an opportunity with BYU Marriott advising pre-business students.

“I felt qualified to help students understand the different functions in business since I was a president and CFO and had managed every department in my company at some point,” Wilson says.

After working as an academic advisor for two and a half years, Wilson took his current position as manager of the BYU Marriott Undergraduate Advisement office in January. His favorite parts of the position are enabling students to discover what they want to become and seeing the successes of students who were previously at the bottom of the academic pile.

“One of the most rewarding aspects of this job is seeing struggling students turn it around,” Wilson says. “It is fun to watch students who have doubts overcome those challenges and become self-confident.”

This combination of experiences is perhaps more than Wilson ever could have planned; however, he is grateful for the way his life has panned out, particularly the unexpected turn that led him back to BYU Marriott.

“I’ve enjoyed these last three years at BYU,” Wilson says. “I’ve seen a dramatic change from being in the industry to being a part of the academic world. And it’s a lot more than just the academic world—it’s the world of BYU, where you have the gospel of Jesus Christ as the foundation. BYU is a special place that’s unique in ways that are hard to replicate.”

Stan Wilson
Stan Wilson frequently interacts with BYU Marriott students in his position as manager of the BYU Marriott Undergraduate Advisement office.

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Brendan Gwynn