2016 MBAs To Watch: Rob Baker, Georgetown (McDonough)

Rob Baker-Georgetown-PoetsAndQuants_MBAsToWatch2016

Rob Baker

Georgetown University, McDonough School of Business

Age: 28

Hometown: Brockton, MA

Undergraduate School and Degree: Bates College, B.A., History

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? I was an infantry officer in the United States Marine Corps.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2015? I interned with LMI (Logistics Management Institute) in Tysons, VA, a nonprofit federal consulting firm that works primarily with the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security.

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be working for the Department of Justice as an internal consultant focusing on strategy and operations.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: I volunteer with DC Honor Flight, an organization that helps facilitate trips for WWII and Korean War veterans to see their respective war memorials in Washington, D.C. I am also the chair of the Community Standards Board and served as the VP of Admissions for the McDonough Military Association. Finally, I enjoy a craft beer or two as a member of the Beer Appreciation Society!

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of my work with the admissions department and prospective student veterans as they begin their transition from the military. As members of the military, we are often placed in leadership positions that are incredibly transformative and require us to develop our “soft skills” of communication and team management under stress and in a time-compressed environment. Too often, the veteran community has difficulty translating its leadership and military work experiences into a compelling narrative that resonates with MBA admissions staff. As a member of the McDonough Military Association, I worked closely with prospective student veterans, meeting and communicating with them on how best to approach the application process and present their story to the admissions team. I interacted with dozens of prospective students during my time on the admissions team and my proudest moment was when a first-year student veteran told me that it was because of our interaction during the application process that he chose to attend Georgetown over another school.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? During my time in the Marine Corps, I served as an infantry platoon commander. In this role I was responsible for the personal and professional development and tactical employment of approximately 50 Marines and sailors. Over the course of my time as a platoon commander, I mentored and coached Marines to become stronger and more effective leaders and got to see them progressively grow as individuals and as a team. During the summer of 2013, my unit deployed to Afghanistan and were engaged in combat operations. My proudest achievement is bringing all of my Marines home safe.

Who is your favorite professor? My favorite professor is Jeffrey Macher. He is a talented educator who leads the classroom with authority and maintains the attention of his students. I also found economics, the subject matter that Professor Macher teaches, to be particularly interesting and helpful in many of my other core and elective courses.

Favorite MBA Courses? Analytical Problem Solving, Strategic Business Analytics, Principled Leadership

Why did you choose this business school? Georgetown’s location in Washington, D.C. provides its students with an amazing opportunity to work at the intersection of business and politics and live in the heart of a young and fast-paced city. I knew that I wanted to work with or for the government when I graduated and the strong veteran community made McDonough a great fit!

I was drawn to the strong sense of collaborative learning that is encouraged here and grounded in a strong culture of high moral and ethical standards. At Georgetown, the idea of “cura personalis” is stressed, meaning care for the whole person. This translates into a well-rounded individual. While learning the “hard skills” of finance, regression analysis, or economics are important, personal development is equally weighted. There are few places where one can say that everyone one interacts with is genuinely a nice and caring person; if I were snowed in at the airport in Cleveland and I were with any member of the Georgetown community, I would gladly grab a beer with them!

What did you enjoy most about business school? As a second-year student, we were required to participate in the Global Business Experience as a capstone project, where we were immersed in a foreign country and with an international business for a week. In Barcelona, Spain, my team and I had the tremendous opportunity to provide consulting strategies for a heavy equipment manufacturer that had a manufacturing facility there. Over the course of a semester, we worked closely with the manufacturer’s supply chain and engineering team to identify and implement improvements in their supply chain operations. At the end of the project, we traveled to the client site in Spain and presented our findings and recommendations to senior leadership from across the organization. Specifically, we introduced new logistics KPIs and procurement process recommendations after identifying gaps and lost value in their supply chain. As a testament to the quality of our interactions, the client will be implementing those recommended solutions in its manufacturing facility.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from business school? I gained a true appreciation for listening. In business school, we are exposed to a diverse group of people from a range of cultures, backgrounds, and abilities. The mark of a successful team is the ability to leverage each individual’s skills to complete the assignment or deliverable. Often, the group enters into a new scenario with preconceived notions of how something should be accomplished. By taking a step back and allowing others to speak, dissecting each person’s thought process, and providing feedback, each team member can find new and innovative ways to complete the task.

What was the most surprising thing about business school? I was surprised by how little I truly understood about business, world affairs, and economics prior to coming to business school.

What was the hardest part of business school? The hardest part about business school was changing the way I approached a group assignment or task. In the military, there is a hierarchical command structure which lends itself to a type of leadership and communication that is sometimes at odds with the environment found at business school. Learning to communicate effectively to people of different cultures, viewpoints, and skill sets was something that took a lot of time and energy.

What’s your best advice to an applicant to your school? Be yourself. Georgetown University loves applicants and students who genuinely want to be a part of a diverse community of ethically minded businessmen and women. Expect to be challenged intellectually every day and expect to grow professionally. We have a wonderful community and look forward to welcoming new members!

I knew I wanted to go to business school when… I did not know what I wanted to pursue as a career. An MBA seemed like a very versatile degree program, which could set me up for success in a number of industries and job functions.”  

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be… still in the Marine Corps leading marines.”

Which executive or entrepreneur do you most admire? I have a deep respect for Paul O’Neill, the former CEO of Alcoa. When he took charge of the faltering company in 1987, he made an unprecedented investment in his employees through a dramatic safety program. By placing the safety of his employees before profits, and through his steady leadership, he energized the company and quintupled its income over his 13-year tenure.

What are your long-term professional goals? I find the most interesting people are the ones who are never satisfied with where they are in life. I will be happy if I am in a position where I work for an organization that works to have a large social impact.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I would like to thank my former boss, Brian Williams, who is an outstanding Marine and officer. He devoted a tremendous amount of time and energy in developing me personally and professionally and into making me a stronger leader. He was also instrumental during my MBA application process as I was transitioning from the military, taking the time to write thoughtful and strong letters of recommendation and ensuring that I was allowed time out of the hectic military schedule to succeed during the MBA admissions process.

Fun fact about yourself: I ran my first ultramarathon last year.

Favorite book: Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

Favorite movie: The Hunt for Red October, the story of an average guy who somehow against all odds manages to save the world from the brink of total annihilation (and Sean Connery’s Russian accent is phenomenal).

Favorite musical performer: The Beatles

Favorite television show: “House of Cards”

Favorite vacation spot: Any national park

Hobbies? Staying active is a huge part of my life. I love to hike, run, and climb whenever I can.

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

“Robert Baker is an extraordinary example of Georgetown McDonough’s mission ‘to educate and develop principled leaders with a global mindset to be in service to business and society.’ Prior to beginning his MBA, Rob served as an infantry officer in the United States Marine Corps, receiving honors including the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with Combat Distinguishing Device and a Combat Action Ribbon.

“His leadership and service continued at Georgetown McDonough, where he actively and significantly contributed to the community. Rob served as the vice president of admissions for the McDonough Military Association and was a member of the Graduate Student Consulting Group. Through his work with the Consulting Club, he was what Marc Cosentino called ‘case certified.’

“Rob also served as the chair of the Community Standards Board, a student-led system to address suspected and confirmed violations of our academic, personal, or professional standards to which we hold our students. His contributions to the Community Standards Board were significant, taking the lead in transitioning from the former board that handled only academic concerns to the current board that also addresses issues of personal and professional conduct. He demonstrated extraordinary leadership, professionalism, and discretion in this role, and served as a model to his peers.

“In addition to his involvement outside the classroom, Rob is a candidate for the International Business and Diplomacy Certificate, an honors program jointly offered through the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.”

Kerry Pace

Associate Dean for MBA Programs

Georgetown University, McDonough School of Business