2020 Best & Brightest MBAs: David Baars, Carnegie Mellon (Tepper)

David Baars

Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University

“Bridge-builder, problem-solver, and growth-oriented.”

Hometown: Seattle, WA

Fun fact about yourself: I’ve ridden my bike from San Francisco to Los Angeles three times for an event called AIDS/LifeCycle (ALC). ALC raises money for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and Los Angeles LGBT Center, and I’ve raised nearly $10K across my three rides.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Puget Sound, Bachelor of Arts in Economics

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? PipelineDeals, Product Marketing Director

Where did you intern during the summer of 2019? Google Cloud, Sunnyvale CA

Where will you be working after graduation? Google Cloud, Senior Program Manager

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • President, Business & Technology Club
  • VP for Admissions, Out & Allied
  • Diversity Weekend Committee Member
  • Accelerate Center Communication Coach

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I’m proud of the work that I did as President of the Business & Technology Club (B&T). B&T is the largest professional club at Tepper with nearly two-thirds of MBA students. The club provides students with exposure to the tech industry, career development, and opportunities to learn about new technologies and tech strategy. B&T is the perfect fit for a school like Carnegie Mellon, where so many new and ground-breaking technologies are being developed. It’s been extremely rewarding to work with my board. It makes me proud to see the opportunities that my classmates are getting in tech, and the enthusiasm that people have for the industry.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Startups offer an excellent opportunity to learn quickly and make an impact. When a business is growing fast, it can sometimes feel like fires are burning everywhere. I developed a reputation in my company as a quick learner willing to step into the breach and help out. As a result, I built deep relationships around the business and was promoted to become the company’s first product marketer. As a product marketer for PipelineDeals, I led the go-to-market strategy for new products and features, managed pricing strategy, and helped educate co-workers and customers on the product. As a result of my leadership, I was able to drive changes to the product and business that increased the average revenue per account (ARPA) by 93% in my first year as a product marketer.

Additionally, I’m particularly proud of the fact that I was able to earn a placement for PipelineDeals software on Gartner’s prestigious Magic Quadrant for Sales Force Automation. We were the only software company with no venture funding on the list.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? My favorite MBA event at Tepper is Coming Out Stories. Coming Out Stories is an annual event hosted by Out&Allied, a club for LGBTQ+MBA students and allies. Each year, three students tell their experience of coming out as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or trans. This past year, I had the opportunity to tell my coming out story to 200+ classmates. I found this experience empowering and moving. I also think that it’s a testament to the community at Tepper that so many of my classmates came to learn about and better understand one of the most challenging experiences that members of the LGBTQ community face. It means the world to me that my classmates continue to strive to better understand the challenges their queer classmates face.

Why did you choose this business school? I applied to Tepper because of its quantitative rigor, leadership, and connection to the technology community. Ultimately, I chose to attend Tepper because of the strength of the community and network. I love how collaborative and thoughtful my classmates are in the classroom and beyond. I can’t wait to see what my classmates achieve.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Know your story and communicate your strengths with confidence. When I speak with prospective students, they often ask what they should be writing in their application essays. The best way to stand out is to tell how your unique professional and personal experiences will contribute to your classmates’ growth. Even better, indicate how you hope to grow professionally and personally from your classmates at Tepper.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I wish that I would have taken more advantage of the travel opportunities that clubs on campus provide. For example, student-led treks to Israel and Japan in the spring give an excellent opportunity to travel with and learn from your classmates. Additionally, the school provides international capstone options in Germany, China, and Brazil. I wish that I had prioritized these international travel opportunities while I was in school. Luckily, I’ll have many opportunities to travel with my classmates internationally after we graduate.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I greatly admire my classmate Shana Pradeep. From the first moment that I met her at a classmate’s BBQ during Basecamp before the start of classes, Shana stood out amongst my classmates. For one, Shana made a point of developing relationships with a wide array of classmates across career and professional interests. Her network at Tepper is diverse, robust, and dependable. She is also unique in how she has approached professional exploration at Tepper. While she knew that she wanted to pursue a more entrepreneurial path, she was open to a whole range of potential roles and opportunities that would help her leverage her many talents. Her commitment to career exploration led her to take on two internships in venture capital and early-stage business development. Beyond this, she’s developed deep ties through the Tepper network to venture capitalists and entrepreneurs. I’m confident that Shana’s career will be enriching for herself and an inspiration to future generations of Tepper graduates.

On a more personal note, Shana has helped me and others become more authentic leaders. Shana is deeply committed to personal and interpersonal development and has been a frequent thought-partner as I’ve worked through challenges. She pushes me to be a stronger leader, to admit my mistakes and weaknesses, and to continually work to improve myself. I can’t imagine my Tepper experience without Shana, and I owe a debt to her for how much I’ve grown through her example and leadership.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My professional mentor, Bryan Estep, inspired me to pursue an MBA. Bryan is an entrepreneur in the travel-software industry and an expert in sales and marketing. He’s worked globally in the United States, Central America, South America, and Europe – and he has been successful working at startups and enterprise businesses alike. As I got to know Bryan better and learned more about his career, he continually came back to his experience earning an MBA and how meaningfully it had contributed to his career.

Two pieces of advice that Bryan gave that have stuck with me were: (1) know what I’m worth and (2) invest in building relationships with people whose strengths are different than mine. Bryan helped me to see how earning an MBA would help me work towards both of these goals. Tepper has enabled me to better understand and articulate the value that I bring. And the diversity of relationships that I’ve built with classmates and with the broader Tepper network will be invaluable in the future.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? The top two items on my professional bucket list are:

1 – Launch a startup in the education technology space

2 – To work internationally and/or lead an international team at a technology company

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? “David was passionate about helping his classmates achieve their goals and pushed his classmates to be their best selves.”

Hobbies? Outside of work and the classroom, I have a number of different hobbies, including triathlons and adventure races, long-distance bicycle rides, hiking and camping, brewing and trying new beer, cooking and baking, and reading fiction.

What made David Baars such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2020?

“David is a tremendous person, student, and leader. Without him, the class of 2020 would be entirely different. The empathy, kindness and generosity that David shows to his fellow classmates and the community at large is clear. It is evident that he deeply cares about his community from the time he gives as a communications coach helping students with interview preparation to raising money for nonprofits. His kindness and empathy also make him a fantastic leader. I have had the pleasure of seeing his leadership, first-hand, as the Business and Technology Club President. The B&T Club is the largest club within Tepper, which hosts more than 80 events a year—one of which is the premier technology innovation case competition for MBA students around the world (the Tepper Innovation Challenge).

David also brings his leadership skills to several other very important clubs and responsibilities. He is a part of the Out&Allied Board, helped organize this year’s Tepper Diversity Weekend, was a liaison between the Tepper admissions team and LGBTQ applicants and is head TA for five sections of the MBA course Technology Strategy.  Finally, David is an amazing student. I had the great pleasure of having him in two of my courses: Technology Strategy as well as the Technology Strategy and Product Management track capstone project.  During the capstone course, I saw David show empathy to other track students regarding capstone project selections as well as saw him work diligently to understand an industry that he had no prior experience in or knowledge of.

There is no doubt that David is an exceptional person, student, and leader—he landed one of the most coveted jobs in all of technology after graduation, a position with Google. I am confident that David will have an amazing professional career, but I am certain that he has made the Tepper School of Business and its community better through his empathy, kindness, and intellectual prowess.”                                    

Tim Derdenger
Associate Professor of Marketing and Strategy  
Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business


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