Poole Advisory Board Spotlight: Andrew Baird
For one of the newest members of the Poole College of Management advisory board, NC State is not just an alma mater – it’s more of a second home. Andrew Baird was raised a Wolfpack fan in Raleigh, N.C., just a few short miles from Carter-Finley Stadium. As a kid, he attended football games on the “hill” with his father, a university alum. And in his teenage years, a new passion began to spark – one that would eventually lead him to the university he loved.
While attending a magnet high school with a medical-focused program, Baird took an early interest in finding innovative solutions for bringing centralized health care to rural areas across the state. In conjunction with his capstone project – which developed a business plan for a rural flying cardiology program – he worked to obtain his pilot’s license and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) license.
The spark continued to ignite, which ultimately earned him direct admittance into the Poole College of Management.
I remember the day I was accepted to NC State. I went straight into the business school – which was all part of my grand plan to learn business principles to start a flying cardiology program.
“I remember the day I was accepted to NC State. I went straight into the business school – which was all part of my grand plan to learn business principles to start a flying cardiology program,” Baird says. “By my junior year, I was actively paying my way through school working night shifts in the Wake County EMS System and working mornings as an ‘eye in the sky’ traffic reporting pilot for local news and radio stations.”
After graduating, Baird taught for several years at UNC’s Department of Emergency Medicine and eventually became a critical care paramedic. It was in this position that he saw the need for a North Carolina-based independent fixed wing air ambulance program. In 2012, he began making that dream a reality.
When he launched Vector Aeromedical Services in 2014, the company was the first of its kind in the state. And in the years since, Vector Aeromedical and its branches AccessCare, CareJet and EventCare have transported more than 9,000 patients worldwide – including repatriation of sick North Carolinians from foreign countries, organ transplant procurements and emergent medical transportation.
Baird credits NC State faculty and advisors for fueling the entrepreneurial fire that ultimately led him to launch his companies.
“Many of my friends that went to other schools for business came out prepared to attend graduate school, but when I left Poole College, I was prepared to start a company,” Baird says. “Entrepreneurs are sometimes an odd bunch that do not always fit an academic mold. And as students – especially those who are underrepresented – they should be encouraged to pursue knowledge and education with entrepreneurship in mind. That’s what the faculty did at Poole.”
And as students – especially those who are underrepresented – they should be encouraged to pursue knowledge and education with entrepreneurship in mind. That’s what the faculty did at Poole.
As for what sets Poole College apart from other local business schools, Baird believes it’s the fact that undergraduate students are well prepared to apply their skills, which allows them to make an immediate impact in the Triangle and across the state.
“The unique ability for students to reach across disciplines like engineering, textiles and design, and to bring tangible ideas to market is unmatched. Poole is educating the best students that the state has to offer, and the fact that many of those students stay in state as employees post-graduation makes an incredible impact on the North Carolina economy.”
In both his personal and professional life, Baird is an advocate of good stewardship – not only in terms of financial generosity, but also in how he spends his time. And this, he explains, was a driving force in his decision to join the Poole advisory board. “Being a member of the board goes back to my interest in giving back through the lens of entrepreneurial spirit. I believe business should be about developing relationships and I want to develop those relationships with fellow board members, faculty and students… to assist them in any way I can,” he says.
In his continued pursuit of giving back, Baird and his wife, Rebecca, recently announced a $XX scholarship endowment for an undergraduate/graduate student within the Poole College of Management.
“I have a deep love for NC State – from childhood memories, to some of the best times in my young life as a student, to the joy of watching my own young son yell ‘Go Pack!’ at sporting events. My heart certainly is here with the Wolfpack,” Baird says. “It was important for me and my wife to give back to the university by supporting a student with an entrepreneurial mindset who plans to continue to develop professionally in North Carolina.”