CEO of the Sea
Shelby Baecker MBA’05
Commanding Officer, USS Whirlwind (PC 11)
Forward deployed to the port of Mina Sulman, Bahrain
As the commanding officer of a 180-foot Patrol Coastal Class ship and crew, Captain Shelby Baecker compares his job to a CEO’s.
Like a CEO, Baecker holds a high level of authority and accountability. “As captain, I’m responsible for, well, everything,” he says. “I never get the option to say, ‘Well, I didn’t know…’.”
Baecker was selected for his current position while working as the operation’s officer aboard the USS Rentz in San Diego. The promotion is an honor only about 10 officers of his rank receive each year, he says.
And although his extensive military experience made him well prepared for the job—Baecker holds a BS from the U.S. Naval Academy as well as an impressive array of former jobs on ships—his Kelley Direct MBA gave him an edge.
Baecker worked to complete his degree all over the world, including Japan, Guam, Hawaii, the British Virgin Islands, and just about every state along the northern route from Rhode Island to California, he says.
He discovered the program through Web research while in Japan. “Back in 2002, the online degree was still a novelty, but the Kelley program presented itself well and was extremely well regarded by my friends in the corporate world,” he says.
For Baecker, the most amazing aspect of the Kelley Direct program was the flexibility and understanding of the faculty and staff. “They did a fantastic job of listening to my concerns as a military student and addressing them,” he says.
Now, thanks to the combination of his military background and his business education, he not only has the skills to handle his extensive responsibilities, he has the knowledge to apply the best business practices to his tasks.
“In reality, there is not much difference between what we face in the military and what normal businesses face,” he says. “Kelley was one of the best things I’ve done for myself, and it certainly has become one of the largest stones in the foundation of my successful career in the Navy.”
- Personal attention at Kelley:
"I credit Jane Sears with my decision to attend Kelley over other schools. In fact, she was so good Kelley was the only school I applied to—over names such as Florida, Stanford, Duke, and UNC. If you’re looking for the champion of the Kelley program, she is it. Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that from the moment I started, every member of the faculty was simply a blessing in being there for me when military commitments made my participation difficult.”
- Advice for Kelley students:
"Make the most out of your interactions. They are special and the story behind the person can be an amazing learning experience.”
- On Shelby’s iPod:
Jack Johnson and Jimmy Buffett
- Web site he visits every day: