Perren BakerWhen Perren Baker learned the College of Business was offering a business analytics track in its MBA program beginning fall term 2014, he wasted no time in getting onboard.

As in, he was the very first student to enroll.

“I was really excited about it,” said Baker, who’ll graduate in June. “This realm is blowing up big time. The information we’re learning is cutting edge.”

Baker, an intercollegiate wrestler while working on the degree in management information systems he finished in 2002, brought a multifaceted background to the MBA program.

He worked part-time as a business process analyst at Hewlett-Packard as a senior. Following graduation, he joined AtPac, a software company in Grass Valley, Calif., for which Baker handled a variety of tasks.

Wanting to return to the Northwest, he accepted a software-side position with Stockamp and Associates in Lake Oswego, a revenue cycle consulting firm. He was at Stockamp through 2005 and then went into the Marines as a second lieutenant, leaving four years later, including a year in Afghanistan, as a captain.

“I loved it, but I wanted to be closer to family and friends the rest of my life,” he said.

After his discharge, Baker became a shift manager at the Target Distribution Center in Albany and then returned to school as a full-time MBA student a year and a half ago.

“I thought it would be great to go back and get a master’s level of understanding in every discipline,” he said.

And then he jumped on the opportunity to learn business analytics: how to capitalize on the vast amounts of information available in a digital world.

“You can’t just dive into the data,” Baker said. “You’ve got to know the processes, know the questions to ask, know what the information is meaning, know how to apply it. It’s a blend of business and technology, art and science. It’s really fascinating.

“I’ve been extremely impressed with the faculty,” added Baker, who also praised the help he’s gotten from Brandi Fuhrman of the Career Success Center, a former Target co-worker, and classmate Kealiihookipa Wichimai.

Bin Zhu, one of OSU’s business analytics professors, said Baker “takes learning seriously.”

“He’s very focused,” she said. “He works hard and he’s always active in class. He has very specific goals, and he’s efficient in going about getting them.”

Added management instructor Ken Crangle: "When I teach leadership classes, I notice who people gravitate to, and he’s one they gravitate to. He's bright, articulate, energetic, obviously very mature  a very competent person who takes care of his group. I tend to look at people through the lens of 'would I hire him?' and yeah, this is a guy I would hire, no qualms."