Since fleeing his war-torn homeland of Liberia 15 years ago, Edward Baiden has traveled far on his journey from "dish rags" to riches.
Baiden, MBA '05, briefly lived in Ghana before pursuing opportunity in America, getting his first job at age sixteen as a dishwasher at the Robert Treat Hotel in Newark, N.J. Six months later, he'd already been promoted to management.
Continuing his rise in the hotel industry, Baiden worked in operations management for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide in Washington, D.C., before moving to Atlanta to be a market analyst for InterContinental Hotels Group and associate brand manager for Holiday Inn Express.
Wanting to progress faster, he decided that earning his MBA was the best way to "leap frog ahead." Baiden, who earned his bachelor's degree in business administration from Georgia State University while working full-time, chose Georgia Tech's MBA program for three reasons: excellent location, reasonable cost and the quantitative focus of its marketing curriculum. "All of my classes were very, very strong," he says. "They've helped me understand how to identify customer needs and position products to meet those needs."
His studies have empowered him to challenge himself professionally, leaving the comfort zone of the hotel industry for a job at DuPont, which turns scientific innovations into a wide range of products and services. "I wanted to diversify my work experience," says the thirty-one-year-old. "I felt like I'd put all my eggs in one basket with the hospitality industry."
Baiden was one of only sixteen people selected this year for DuPont's highly competitive Marketing Leadership Development Program. During its three-year length, the program will expose him to a variety of the corporate giant's many business areas. Right now he's particularly intrigued by DuPont's crop-protection technologies because of the promise they hold for developing countries like his homeland.
Someday he'd like move back to Ghana, where most of his family lives, to contribute to the country's economic growth. But for now, he's content just being closer to his wife, Akosua, a finance manager for Fortune magazine in New York. Married in the spring of 2004, the couple had to spend most of a year apart while he finished his MBA. They now live in Wilmington, Del., where DuPont is based, and she commutes to New York a few times a week. "We're very happy to finally be together," Baiden says.