2016 MBAs To Watch: David Baker, Oxford (Saïd)

David Baker-Oxford-PoetsAndQuants_MBAsToWatch2016

David Baker


Saïd Business School, University of Oxford

Age: 27

Hometown: I was raised in Salt Lake City, Utah; I grew up and made my home in Washington, DC.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Utah; Bachelor’s of Science in Political Science

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? I started my career in politics before eventually working at Google. After I was accepted to business school I started my own consulting firm to try it out before I started the MBA.

Where will you be working after graduation? Monitor Deloitte UK as a Senior Consultant

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: Elected as Class Representative by my MBA classmates. Alongside three of my classmates, we led the student government and worked with the administration to improve the strategy of the business school

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Simultaneously finding the time to keep up with a one-year program, represent my class to the administration, stay active with the broader university, and travel throughout Europe. The fact that I could take all of that on and still manage to make Oxford University’s Varsity Fencing Team is what I’m proud of.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Like many, life has thrown me a few sucker-punches. But when life knocks me down, I’ve learned to smile, take stock of my situation, and find a way to learn and grow. There have been big wins along the way, but those come and go. Personally, my biggest professional achievements are found in the moments I summon the will to get back up again.

Who is your favorite professor? Andrew Stephen just started here at Oxford, but he revamped our marketing curriculum. He added a handful of new electives and shifted the focus of the marketing department toward the digital future we will face as global business leaders. The amount of energy he puts into his students is inspiring and the results are equally impressive.

Favorite MBA Courses? Global Rules of the Game is a class focused exclusively on non-market strategy and how to work with (and change) the regulatory environment businesses and start-ups face. Every start-up and every incumbent facing disruption needs to know how to manage this environment. I loved it!

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Saïd Business School because of the diversity they bring to the class, diversity of thought as well as nationality, ethnicity, and gender. I wanted a program focused on doing business in an increasingly global era. We are from 56 countries with only 20% from the States. We have social entrepreneurs from Kenya, German McKinseyites, Canadian oilmen, and Swedish techies in the same class pushing and challenging the way we all think about business cases. When all of this comes embedded within one of the most prestigious universities in the world, Oxford’s Saïd Business School was a no brainer.

What did you enjoy most about business school? The people. Like any MBA program, I am surrounded by the crème-de-la-crème, but on top of that Oxford’s college system means that I’m able to interact with the broader university. I regularly have dinner with students on researching robotics, stem cells, the philosophy of resilience, 16th-century warfare, and even ancient Greek archeology. The people I have met this year have expanded my thinking, opened me to new areas of research, and changed my life.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from business school? I learned how to manage my energy, not my time, and in doing so balance athletics, student leadership, academics, and my social life.

What was the most surprising thing about business school? Each day there at least seven interesting talks around campus. Each week, there is a debate at the Oxford Union that gets national news coverage. There are formal dinners and formal balls in colleges straight from Harry Potter, late-night chats in a pub with your classmates, and weekend trips to Scotland, Italy, Israel, Morocco, Budapest, and more. The weight of FOMO sets a new bar at Oxford’s Saïd one-year MBA. What’s most surprising is our capability to prioritize everything and learn to let go of the things we missed out on.

What was the hardest part of business school? Cramming two years of an MBA into a single, nonstop year without losing focus on the things that matter.

What’s your best advice to an applicant to your school? Come and visit. Sit in a class, grab a pint with a study group, and visit this incredible, magical university.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when… I realized almost every mentor I respected had an MBA and cherish the experience and growth they got out of it.”

“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be… on the political campaign trail, poorer in personal connections, knowledge, and experience.”

Which executive or entrepreneur do you most admire? Jack Ma, founder and CEO of Alibaba. He was rejected from Harvard 10 times, failed as an entrepreneur again and again, and faced struggles personally all his life. Yet every step of the way, he kept picking himself up and built Alibaba into what it is today. Jack Ma’s relentless grit motivates me to keep getting up.

What are your long-term professional goals? I plan to work at the intersection of business, technology, and politics, leveraging my experience in the public, private, and social sectors to help companies navigate the global regulatory and business market.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? Harvey Milk is the first openly gay politician who helped urge our community to come out and who gave me the strength to be bold and come out at work and at school. In coming out, I saw the quality of my work improve as I could put more energy, effort, and brainpower toward it. Were it not for Harvey Milk’s example, I wouldn’t have the courage and confidence to keep getting back up.

Fun fact about yourself: I was the first (openly) gay Mormon to meet with President Barack Obama

Favorite book: The Obstacle is the Way — a practical guide to stoicism that I can’t recommend enough for MBAs

Favorite movie: Catch Me If You Can — what isn’t to love about Leo’s persistence in this film?

Favorite musical performer: Rachel Platten — she keeps getting me through exams and long writing assignments!

Favorite television show: “Suits” — “What are your choices when someone puts a gun to your head? … You take the gun, or you pull out a bigger one. Or, you call their bluff. Or, you do any one of a hundred and forty-six other things.”

Favorite vacation spot: Wherever Skyscanner has a cheap flight to this weekend

Hobbies? Fencing, politics, singing, writing, reading, and Netflix

What made David such an invaluable addition to the class of 2016?

“David Baker is a student advocate, in his role as leader of his section and as a highly involved member of the broader school community. He’s a smart, talented student with a great background and he brings a lot to the classroom from his work experience in digital marketing and politics. Outside the classroom is where his unique people skills shine — he is constantly liaising with fellow students, faculty, and staff to ensure that faculty/staff have a finger on the student pulse, and to make sure that faculty/staff views filter down to students when necessary. He’s a great diplomat, in the best sense of the term, and his efforts help make the experience a better one for his fellow students. And because of this, his efforts make the school better, too. Finally, he also bakes cookies for his classmates when they are studying for exams — and Mr. Baker is quite the baker!”

Andrew Stephen

L’Oréal Professor of Marketing

Saïd Business School, University of Oxford




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