Doug Baker Selected Bloch School Alumni Achievement Award Recipient
As Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer of Discovery Networks International, a division of Discovery Communications, Doug Baker guides a network spanning 220 countries and territories through its 190 television networks. Discovery’s channels including TLC, Animal Planet and the Science channel, nearly three billion people watch beloved programs like “Mythbusters”, “Dirty Jobs” and “Deadliest Catch”.
With more than 20 years of operations management and financial experience, Baker has had one focus throughout much of his life: a fascination with the process of making money. It has served as the guiding force in his career.
“I can distinctly remember my youth, and I was fascinated with the money. Not in the money itself, but the process by which it was made truly fascinated me,” said Baker. “The companies I have done that with have been very conscious choices. I have always gotten up in the morning and felt great about the companies I work for, namely Hallmark and Discovery, and what they stand for.”
Baker has stayed in operations and finance throughout his career, with several financial, operating and strategic roles with Hallmark. At DNI, he is responsible for the oversight of the company’s strategy and research, as well as leading all financial aspects of its Finance and Global Brand Solutions.
Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes 16 alumni and one family with top honors. UMKC will honor Baker and other outstanding alumni at the 2016 Alumni Awards Luncheon April 21 at Swinney Recreation Center. The luncheon is one of the university’s largest events and proceeds support student scholarships. Last year’s luncheon attracted nearly 600 attendees and garnered more than $141,000 in student scholarships.
Baker was recently asked about the greatest challenge in his career.
“I have always been in creative businesses – early on in my career with Hallmark and now with Discovery Networks International – where the biggest challenge I faced, ironically, was keeping the drama in the product and out of the business,” said Baker. “To be a successful leader in a large, multinational creative company, I have learned the importance of striking the balance between being empathetic with people, how they think, learn and get things done differently than yourself, while also being confident, disciplined and expedient about conducting business.”
Baker said the biggest challenge in his current position is the changing media landscape. “Traditional TV is changing dramatically and rapidly. Managing the old world, while preparing for the new.”
Baker earned an MBA from UMKC in 1995, and he said attending UMKC was an easy choice.
“It was where I was offered a solid program in Operations (the execution side of me) and allowed me to work and learn at the same time. While that was a necessity given my life situation at the time, I now also believe it’s the best way to do it,” said Baker. “Life is intertwining. Why shouldn’t you get work, life, school all at once? It’s a great preparation for the demands of real life,” said Baker.
Although he did not receive a scholarship to attend UMKC, he turned down an all-expenses paid MBA at the University of Chicago in favor of staying local at UMKC.
Baker has experienced many successes, but his life has not been without personal challenges. Beating cancer was a huge challenge and his biggest accomplishment, he says.
“My chances of surviving were a little better than that of a coin flip. When you are fighting for your life, you never say ‘die,’ ” said Baker. “I would not wish it on anyone, but I am such a better person because of it. What does not kill you truly makes you stronger.”
Baker’s personal mantra? “Body, Mind and Soul. Seriously, don’t say it, do it. You’ll feel amazing,” said Baker.
Click here for tickets or sponsorship information for the April 21, 2016 Alumni Awards Luncheon.
Click here for more information on the 2016 Alumni Awards recipients.
Nominations are now open for the Class of 2017 Alumni Awardees. Click here to nominate fellow alumni who are deserving of the campus’ highest recognition for alumni achievement. Nominations close March 7.