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Chad Baker ('99)
2013 Distinguished Alumni Citation
Chad Baker (’99) now holds a Champion of Excellence award from the company that employs him and a Distinguished Alumni Citation from the university that awarded him his bachelor’s degree. But his road to those honors began when he arrived for an interview dressed like a sailor.
That’s what happens when appointments conflict with Sing Song weekend.
“He was in town and was available,” Baker said of the representative from the Staubach Co., a commercial real estate firm with whom the ACU sophomore was seeking an internship the next summer. “That was the only time he had available. It gave us a good laugh, going to Mr. Gatti’s and interviewing in a sailor costume.”
The Gamma Sigma Phi Sing Song outfit didn’t prevent Baker from landing the internship and never looking back. After several internships as a student, Baker has worked all 14 years since for the same company, now called Jones Lang LaSalle.
As vice president and regional director of the company, Baker has worked with clients such as Energy Transfer, Mazda and Shell Oil, negotiating more than 200 commercial real estate transactions worth nearly $1.1 billion. In March he received the Champion of Excellence award, which recognizes an employee’s professional performance, leadership, client service and ability to perform consistently at the industry’s highest level.
Jones Lang LaSalle, which employs more than 40,000 people, only gives five such awards annually.
“It’s been so humbling and very encouraging,” Baker said. “You just go out with the goal of living for Jesus and reflecting his love to the marketplace. That’s really my heart in this."
Born in Abilene, Baker grew up attending ACU sporting events, and although his family moved to the Dallas area when he was 10, he returned to campus as a junior scholar in 1994. The six-week experience convinced him to return the next year as a freshman.
“I’ve had a passion for ACU ever since I was little,” he said. “I had been on campus and seen for myself the difference between ACU’s mission and the missions of other universities.
As a freshman in the College of Business Administration, Baker received advice to seek out Dr. Rick Lytle, at the time not yet the college’s dean, for mentoring. Baker took the advice to heart, taking as many of Lytle’s classes as possible and observing the way he carried himself, personally and professionally.
“I was just a sponge in every way possible,” Baker said. “That was a big part of my experience at ACU.”
In February 1997, Baker applied for an internship with the Staubach Co. He didn’t know anything about commercial real estate, but he knew about Roger Staubach, the famed Cowboys quarterback who founded the company during his retirement. He landed the internship, sailor costume notwithstanding, and the rest fell into place. Baker interned at Staubach four times – each summer and Christmas until he graduated in 1999 – and had a job waiting when he left ACU.
“It was a huge blessing,” he said.
Now firmly established professionally and personally – he and his wife, Ashley (Spessard ’02), have been married for 12 years and have two children, Abbey and Cole – Baker said he tries to pay forward the support and mentoring he received through his time at ACU, including recently mentoring an ACU student who will begin working for Jones Lang LaSalle this summer.
“I paid for an education,” Baker said. “I received the education, plus how to be a man, a husband and a leader. That’s what I was given, and I feel compelled to give back what I have received.”