Robert S. Baker, Guest Professor in Business Information Systems

Photo of Robert BakerRobert S. “Bob” Baker combines his flair for writing and public speaking with 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur. The result is someone with the experience and ability to motivate and move people forward in their professional careers. Baker’s focus on creating excellent managers is grounded in his belief that, more than anything else, superb organizations are a result of great managers.

When Baker writes and lectures on management his focus is on getting results – today. Baker teaches what works – the things that proven, extraordinary managers do every day. He shows how anybody can become a good manager by simply avoiding certain bad habits. He explains how even people that think they lack the necessary skills and charisma can still become experts at managing people.

Baker’s key business experiences began in 1978 when he and college classmate William T. Swets founded The Instant Interiors Corporation. Under their leadership, the organization grew from a single 1,500 sq.-ft. store to a major regional furniture leasing firm serving eight states.

In 1998, on the 20th anniversary of Instant Interiors’ founding, Baker and Swets sold the company to CORT Business Services, a unit of Berkshire Hathaway. Baker stayed on in the organization, eventually serving as a group vice-president, one direct-report below legendary Berkshire founder Warren Buffet.

Baker began his writing career at age 14 when he began writing at the Greater Grand Rapids News. At age 17, he was hired as a sportswriter for the Grand Rapids Press. He has continued to write professionally through the years. In 2006 he published The Instant Manager, a guidebook on how to become a great manager. Baker also is the creator of Race for the White House, a board game marketed nationally by Talicor Aristoplay. Baker’s gift for communicating his ideas and ideals on entrepreneurship and management has led to a distinguished speaking career. Based on his abundance of knowledge and insight into how to best operate, manage and own a business in today’s world, he is frequently asked to speak to business and trade groups, as well as to college classes.

Baker is currently the president and CEO of the PureData Corporation, an IT consulting firm based in Vicksburg, Michigan. In addition to providing IT support and consulting to businesses in southwest Michigan, the firm also provides technology and software consulting expertise to business around the world. Major clients include the following: Peninsula Hotels, based in Hong Kong; New World Hotels, based also in Hong Kong; Fairmont Hotels based in Toronto; Rosewood Hotels and Resorts, based in Dallas. PureData is currently the lead IT consultant to the $4 million Baha Mar resort in the Bahamas. The Baha Mar is currently the largest resort under construction in the world. Notable southwest Michigan clients include Firekeepers Hotel and Casino, Tekna, Tourney Consulting and AVB.

Nationally Recognized Awards:

• Finalist: USA Today/Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

• Ira Obum Memorial Award. Given annually to one individual by the International Furniture Rental Association for   “Extraordinary service to community and country.”

Memberships:

• International Furniture Rental Association, past president

• National Council of Logistics Management

• World Presidents Association

• The International Young Presidents Organization

Baker’s major course of study at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., and Arizona State University in Tempe (1974-1978) was political science. Along with 35 years of leadership in business and trade organizations, this underscores his high level of understanding of politics, business and management principles.