Wayne Jackson

Lifelong learning championed at Sauder

Marine biologist. Teacher. Diving instructor. Hunter. Entrepreneur. Rice farmer. Amazingly, Wayne Jackson has been all these things. Now he’s adding a world class MBA from UBC to his extraordinary life story.

Wayne’s biography is as unusual as it is varied. After a degree in marine biology, his love of travel and adventure took him to Thailand to teach scuba diving and then to the country’s northern region to live for two years in a small rural village. He lived in a mud hut, farmed rice, and hunted for his own food.

Wayne’s ambition was to set up his own marine biology research centre in Thailand. He had found the land and begun purchasing equipment for the centre when, in late 2004, the Indian Ocean tsunami devastated coastal communities in the region. The project was destroyed and Wayne had to reassess his options.

Business ideas

His next move was to South Korea to take another English teaching job and eventually, Wayne developed a business plan to create a chain of alternative English elementary schools in the country. He found a retired financier to back his business ideas.

“He liked me and the fact that I had a clear plan,” says Wayne. “So I built a school from scratch, buying buses, working with builders and interior designers, handling the marketing.”

After initial problems convincing Korean parents of the benefits of alternative teaching methods, the school, Sky Earth Academy, became a big success and is still running.

But after opening two more schools, Wayne decided to part ways with his business partner. He wanted to accelerate his own professional development, build his resumé and gain some more formal business experience. He was looking for a postgraduate qualification that would make potential employers sit up and take notice.

Professional development

This brought him to Canada and the internationally recognized Sauder School of Business. He still hasn’t given up on his dream of starting a marine biology centre, but says the UBC MBA program has taught him much more about the realities of setting up such an ambitious project.

“If I look back at where I was a year ago and consider where I am now it’s hard to believe I’m the same person,” he says. “When you’re doing a UBC MBA you often don’t realize at the time how much you are learning. Initially I thought I would be merely ticking a box in my career development, but the Sauder experience gives you so much more in terms of leadership development, depth of knowledge and breadth of skills.”

Wayne’s life story is surely unique. But whatever your personal and professional background, why not find out how the UBC MBA can give you the skills and confidence to innovate on the world stage.


Name: Wayne Jackson
Title: MBA candidate 2013
Track: Consulting and Strategic Management
Nationality: British (Potters Bar, Hertfordshire)