2018 Best MBAs: Richard Baynes, USC (Marshall)

Richard Baynes

USC, Marshall School of Business

“Motivated, creative thinker eager to learn and solve complex problems, while making time to reflect.”

Age: 32

Hometown: Overland Park, KS

Fun fact about yourself: I was born in Johannesburg, South Africa and moved to the United States when I was four years old. Every new kindergarten classmate of mine asked excitedly if I grew up playing with lions and giraffes in my backyard.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Lake Forest College – Economics

Where did you work before enrolling in business school?

  • Senior Manager, Accenture Management Consulting (2010 – 2016)
  • Consultant, Mattersight Behavioral Analytics (2008 – 2010)

Where did you intern during the summer of 2017? Nordstrom – Seattle, Washington

Where will you be working after graduation? Nordstrom – Corporate Strategy

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • President, Marshall Graduate Student Association (2017-2018)
  • Committee Member, Curriculum Review Task Force (2017-2018)
  • Host, Leading Voices in Business (2017-2018)
  • Volunteer, Special Olympics, Junior Achievement, Team Prime Time (2016-2018)
  • Career Representative, Marshall Graduate Student Association (2016-2017)
  • AVP Alumni Engagement, Graduate Marketing Association (2016-2017)

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Having the opportunity to serve and represent 450 incredibly impressive business professionals as our student body president has been such an honor. My primary initiative was to bring prominent members of the Trojan network and engaging C-suite executives to campus for a fireside chat series. I collaborated with our very supportive deans, Dean Ellis and Dean Ku, to bring Leading Voices in Business to life. Since launching the series, Marshall MBAs have had front-row seats to get to know Kris Popovich (President & CEO, Hoffman Video Systems), Lloyd Greif (Founder, President, and CEO, Greif & Co.), and Geevy Thomas (Chief Innovation Officer, Nordstrom). It is my goal to continue to build the series and leave Marshall an exciting avenue to draw business leaders from around the world.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Prior to returning to business school, I had the chance to lead a three-year marketing transformation for a health insurance client in Philadelphia. Given this was in the early days of The Affordable Care Act, payers had not fully adapted their businesses to support an individual consumer model. I worked with our leading data and analytics practitioners that delivered innovative capabilities in the retail space to revolutionize our client’s approach to data, analytics, and marketing. Our team far surpassed expectations by extending health insurance coverage to over 170,000 individual consumers (well above the original target of 88,000).

What was your favorite MBA Course? Last semester I took Financial Analysis and Valuation from Professor Abrams to ensure I pushed myself in areas I was less comfortable. Not only was the subject matter new to me, but Professor Abrams moved at a pace I’d never seen before. It was fascinating to see the different methods of valuation and hear how they were used from different private equity and venture capital partners. While I never quite got the hang of the leverage buyout portion of the class, I learned an incredible amount and gained a new appreciation for my investment banking friends.   

Why did you choose this business school? There are four key reasons why I ultimately selected USC Marshall. The alumni network at USC is absolutely incredible; there truly is not another network like it in the country. The caliber and diversity of the students that I get to learn from on a daily basis is as good or better than that of any of the schools that I visited. The professors at Marshall create a learning environment that is challenging and extremely engaging. Lastly, I knew when I attended admit weekend that Marshall just felt right.

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? If you’re hoping to get into Marshall, you should already know why USC is the perfect place for you specifically to invest the next two years of your career. Now tell the admissions team why! My GMAT score did not do me any favors, but I truly believe that since I was convinced I would be a good fit and communicated that in my application and interview, it worked out. Stay confident and be yourself.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth about Marshall is that it is anything other than a top 20 MBA program. From the caliber of the professors to the incredible MBA candidates, I am constantly impressed. USC may have a good football team that you hear about more than Marshall (and yes, the tailgates are incredible), but the case competitions we are winning, the internships we are landing, and the full-time jobs we are accepting show that we are much more than just a good football school.

What was your biggest regret in business school? I’d like to think that I don’t have any regrets, but rather that there are additional paths I could have taken that would have been equally interesting or rewarding. I would have loved to have come into school with a good idea or entrepreneurial vision, as I do not think there is a better place to launch a business than at USC. The Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies paired with the incredible Trojan Network would have been the perfect setting to take an idea to the next level.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? My assigned seat during core was next to the most outgoing person I met during orientation, Michael Fritschner. Michael brings more enthusiasm and energy to mundane tasks than most people bring to the best part of their day. He’s electric, and it’s contagious. From one conversation with him, you know he is going places. A lot of people describe energy as a common trait amongst CEOs. If you don’t know what that looks like, I encourage you to meet Mike.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? When I was five years old, our family friend, Nathan, came to visit us from South Africa. After just one year in the United States, I had learned the value of “Super Sizing” a value meal and demanded Nathan get the most bang for his buck when ordering at the local McDonald’s. I’ve always been fascinated with numbers and problem solving, so business has always appealed naturally. That paired with enough hospital politics conversations between two doctor parents turned me to business.

 If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…on the driving range, trying to replicate Greg Norman’s eighteen month journey from a 27 handicap to a scratch golfer (it’s possible, right?). In all seriousness, I’d be at Accenture still. I loved my job and the people.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? I find it difficult to make time to truly immerse myself in case studies for each different class. I think it would incredible if all courses were based around the same case each day or week. Focusing on one company, thinking from the different angles of each core discipline, and analyzing decisions beyond the impacts discussed only in the case would be truly rewarding.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? I’m still working on my 40 by 40 list, but two that stand out are 1) purchase an investment property and 2) travel to South America, Australia, and Antarctica so that I will have been to every continent.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? “Richard was someone whom I could always count on – for help, advice, an introduction, a laugh – but never to help me move.”

What is your favorite movie about business? The Pursuit of Happiness – persist.

What would your theme song be?Adventure of a Lifetime” by Coldplay

Favorite vacation spot: Cape Town, South Africa

Hobbies? Traveling the globe, skiing black diamonds, playing 18 holes, discovering new music, exploring red wines, cooking new recipes, and trying different restaurants

What made Richard such an invaluable addition to the class of 2018?

“As president of the Marshall Graduate Student Association, Richard Baynes has worked tirelessly on behalf of the full-time MBA students at USC Marshall.  Richard has been successful as President of MGSA for two primary reasons: 1) he cares deeply about USC, Marshall, the MBA Program, and his fellow students; and 2) he is able to build consensus and community by sticking to the principle of doing what’s right, even when it’s not easy. He leads by example and strives to embody the USC Marshall values: Transformational Courage, Collaborative Ambition, Impactful Service and Unwavering Integrity.

In my opinion, Richard’s biggest achievement as president has been to work collaboratively with his MGSA board and other student leaders to ensure that the Marshall community is a place where all voices are heard, and values such as inclusivity, diversity of thought, and belonging are always at the forefront. Under Richard’s leadership, board roles were expanded to include a dedicated international student representative and an alumni liaison, ensuring all voices are part of the conversation. He and his board have also worked diligently to offer events and speakers that provide opportunities for students to hear a variety of perspectives, and learn and grow as individuals.

As parts of society seem to push to exclude and silence, Richard has demonstrated his leadership – often through messages sent to our entire full-time MBA student population – by affirming Marshall’s values and reminding us all that our ideas, solutions, and business ventures are better when the whole Marshall community works together.”

Anne Ziemniak

Assistant Dean & Director, Full-Time MBA Program

USC Marshall School of Business


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