Alumnus Spotlight

Russell Baker (SEA 1996-1997)

Russell Baker (SEA 1996-1997)

I am a graduate of SEA’s Class of 1997 (graduating from UC Davis that same year).  I’ve spent the past 22 years in the computer software industry, which has allowed me travel the world and live in some amazing cities like Boston, San Francisco, and Raleigh before moving back to my home town of Paso Robles, CA.  I started my career with Oracle Corporation (a job I got by the way, because the hiring manager saw my SEA experience listed on my resume and called me in for an interview – it turns out, she was also a UCD and SEA alum having gone through the program 5 years prior), and have spent the past 16 years with Micro Focus where I currently serve as a Director of Sales. 

Throughout my professional career I never let go of my dream of starting my own business, a dream I held as a child and that was forged through my experience with the Sacramento Entrepreneurship Academy.  A little over two years ago I purchased a commercial lot in downtown Paso Robles, and “in my spare time” began building a beer garden literally from the ground up.  It’s been a two year process working with City, architects, contractors and a host of other professionals.  I hired my first employee in March who will run the day-to-day operations, and broke ground in April of this year with construction slated to be completed by the end of September -- we are on schedule to open in mid-October, pending any unforeseen delays.

Screen Shot 2019-09-03 at 12.21.36 PM.png

It’s been a fun, stressful, exciting, exhausting, rewarding process building the business while continuing my full-time employment and raising a family.  One of the most enjoyable aspects for me so far has been writing my business plan -- I was constantly reminded of all those hours spent in front of a computer with my SEA team member (who I first met at the SEA summer BBQ, and to this day remains one of my best friends) writing our business plan for the SEA Showcase.  That experience has proved invaluable, and I am proud to add my name to the list of SEA grads who have gone on to launch their own business.  Please visit The Backyard the next time you visit Paso Robles!