NY executive appreciates life skills learned at SWU
Whether it’s the launch of a major entertainment or sports website or high profile athletic event, Southern Wesleyan University graduate Alex Baxter manages teams of media professionals who make things happen.
“We’re creating relationships with partners such as Google, Yahoo and ESPN, said Baxter. “The individuals on these teams are writers and editors, advertising sales executives, strategic business development professionals and technology leaders.”
Baxter, who is currently the chief digital officer at a private equity portfolio company called Competitor Group, manages businesses that conduct commerce on the web through desktop and mobile devices. “My path has been formed by a series of fortuitous relationships, events and the Lord’s plan for me,” Baxter said.
Prior to attending Southern Wesleyan University, Baxter, whose parents were divorced, lived in several places, including Toronto, Sacramento and Tampa.
“We rented a house with no running water or electricity and we would scrounge around boxes at Goodwill drop off locations to see if anyone had left clothes that we could wear or other items we could use around the house,” he said. When he was nine, Baxter’s grandparents on his mother’s side won custody of him. During that time, he started playing sports and studying hard in school. Playing golf, football and baseball in high school, Baxter developed a love for sports, especially golf.
While playing as a junior golfer, he encountered influential people, including the CEO of Levi Strauss and the CEO of Nortel Networks.
Baxter’s interest in golf led him to seek a college where he could be part of an intercollegiate golf team. His grandparents wanted him to go to a Christian university. Baxter contacted Don Wood, Southern Wesleyan’s golf coach at the time, and Wood invited him down.
“Golf was a catalyst for bringing me to Southern Wesleyan University,” said Baxter, who came to the campus in Central on a golf scholarship. In addition to being a member of the Golf Team, Baxter was also active as student body president and was named class valedictorian.
“The size of the school and the nurturing nature of faculty – how they took personal interest in me – gave me a lot of confidence,” Baxter said.
After graduating from Southern Wesleyan in 2000 with both a BS in business and a BA in history and social studies, Baxter worked in Atlanta as a managing partner at Transition Assistance Online, a startup web business acquired by a larger company called Lucas Group. While there, he continued to lead TAOnline while managing the marketing department at Lucas Group and formed a large co-branding initiative with The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones & Co. He also met several staffers at WSJ who opened doors for his working in New York.
He and his wife Amanda moved from Atlanta to New York, where he led a sales and marketing team focused on WSJ’s vertical network of websites. During his time in New York, Baxter continued his education at Columbia University, earning an MBA at the business school, while leading the class as an elected representative and delivering the keynote address at graduation.
Baxter went on to lead the digital team at Wenner Media, launching the celebrity news website UsMagazine.com, and overseeing re-launches of RollingStone.com and Mensjournal.com. He then moved over to Condé Nast, publishers of titles as diverse as Vogue, Glamour, GQ, Vanity Fair and Golf Digest, to lead a digital unit of their business.
In Spring, 2011, Baxter arrived at Competitor Group, the world’s largest media and event company devoted to endurance sports: running, cycling and triathlon. Competitor operates over 100 sporting events around the world and media titles in these sports, partnering with entities like the NFL and MLB.
Baxter and his wife live on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, about seven blocks from Central Park. They have a four-year-old daughter, Sophie. The Baxter’s are both deacons and active members of the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church.
Baxter is grateful for the positive influences of Southern Wesleyan staff, professors and coaches, such as Wood and both the late Bob McDonald and Lou Towles. “Don Wood managed to keep a positive outlook at all times – his ability to maintain composure and a positive attitude was and is an inspiration to everyone around him, whether you know it at the time or not.” Looking back at his education at Southern Wesleyan, Baxter appreciates the nurturing academic environment that bolstered his confidence to lead a group of executives in a boardroom or speak on stage to thousands of industry conference attendees.
“At SWU you learn life skills and life lessons. For me, being there fostered those intangibles like communication, responsiveness, integrity, trust and confidence,” he said.
Southern Wesleyan University is a Christ-centered, student-focused learning community devoted to transforming lives by challenging students to be dedicated scholars and servant-leaders who impact the world for Christ.