MBA@UNC Graduate: Allen Baker

“I used my MBA@UNC experience to make a complete career change,” says Allen Baker. “I changed everything.”

A nuclear engineering officer in the U.S. Navy, Baker earned his undergraduate degree from the U.S. Naval Academy and, upon graduation, volunteered to go into submarine service.

“My first ship was the U.S.S. Tucson on deployment to West Africa. From there, I went to Bahrain and then back to Africa, ultimately becoming an instructor teaching other people how to drive submarines.”

As his contract with the Navy was drawing close to renewal, Baker grew increasingly interested in making a transition to the civilian world. “I was moving every year,” he says. “I realized that I had reached my goals in the Navy —I had satisfied my original reasons for joining.”

At the encouragement of a senior officer who also was his mentor, Baker started looking at MBA programs. “My goal was to find out what I didn’t know,” he says.

“I wanted the tools I needed to become literate in business and create frameworks that I can apply to situations that I will encounter in the real world.”

Baker wanted to be done — or close to done — with school about the same time he got out of the Navy. When he discovered he was going to Djibouti, it became evident that he would need a program that could go wherever he did.

MBA@UNC fit the bill.

“I’m a North Carolina native,” he says. “I knew UNC-Chapel Hill was a good school, so I never doubted the quality of the program.”

The program’s flexible online format made it possible for Baker to attend classes — even if was at 3 a.m. in the morning.

“For me it wasn’t a big deal, because I’ve always been good about functioning with little sleep,” he says. “I was more concerned that my Internet connection might go out.”

Baker emphasizes that, while the program is geographically flexible, “you have to do the work. In a real classroom you can kind of hide in back. But in the live MBA@UNC sessions, your face is on the screen right next to everyone else.”

“I liked that the live sessions gave me the opportunity to interact with high quality professors and reinforce what we learned by doing.”

Before graduation, Baker started a new job with a global provider of offshore drilling services. He’s looking forward to applying what he’s learned and focusing his energy on his new career.

“MBA@UNC has really been the pivot point of my career,” he says. “It’s what I leveraged to expand my opportunities, and it has completely opened up a new spectrum of career choices. Everything I learned is relevant.”