Andrew Baxter
Home Region

St. Andrews, UK

Undergrad Education

Imperial College London, Chemical Engineering, 2011

Previous Experience

Shell, Schlumberger

HBS Activities

Admissions Rep

“You build up personal capital by sharing common experiences.”

Like many children, Andrew Baxter was determined to follow in his father's footsteps. But in Andrew's case, his father was an engineer for Schlumberger and following in his steps meant "remote deserts of North Africa and the Middle East."

Andrew, who was born and raised in St. Andrews, Scotland, did indeed complete his master's in chemical engineering. "My wish came true," he says. "I went to weird and wonderful places, like a deep water drilling rig off the coast of Greenland."

Going to different places brought encounters with different people. While working for Shell, Andrew landed in Jordan where he was "thrown in the deep end – a great sink or swim experience in an entirely different culture. Imagine you're twenty-five and arrive at a rig where all the guys are in their fifties, speak Arabic, and have grown children of their own. How do you find common ground? Well, I found two guys who loved playing the bagpipes. When they discover I'm from Scotland, out come the cell phones. We're watching bagpipe videos, talking about golf, talking about St. Andrews. Suddenly, I'm best friends with all the guys. I discovered something important: you build up personal capital by sharing common experiences. Building common ground improved outcomes significantly!"

Finding ways to effect change

Andrew began his career in fossil fuels – but he doesn't want it to end there. "As I became concerned about climate change," he says, "I asked myself a question: Could I make a difference in the fight to save our environment?"

An MBA, Andrew believed, "would give me the skills to do something more for societal change." With a desire to address the impact of global urbanization on our environment, Andrew wants "to explore ideas for more sustainable transportation. Where I'm from, public transport gave me so much freedom at so little cost. When it's bad, it denies people opportunities; it denies them a certain quality of life."

HBS attracted Andrew by its "faculty and elective classes around sustainable business practices and reimagining capitalism. How do we use business to affect society and seed change, even where policies are lacking?"

"One of my big surprises here: the number of niche, targeted interests in positive change," says Andrew. "What students want to do is far more diverse than I expected."

The positive attitude is contagious. "I think of it as 'ambition creep': you think you know what you want, but when you hear the ambitions of others, you wonder if you should aim higher. You can't help but be inspired."

Andrew is currently exploring internships involving tech-enabled transportation, "After graduation, I'd like to work for a company that holds sustainability as a core tenet, whether in transportation, energy, or agriculture. Over time, I'd like to see one of these sectors transformed to a level that preserves the environment for future generations."