Ned Baxter is using his MBS MBA to make our future greener
Inspired by an MBA and the birth of his first child, Ned Baxter is working to leave the world in a better state than he found it.
"Our society absolutely owes it to the future generations to do what we can to improve their life going forward," he says.
"You really do hope that they are in a world that they can succeed, and they can have their own family one day."
Ned's son was born around the time that he was considering studying an MBA and working as the Global Strategy Director at ASX-listed Worley, which he helped turn into one of the world's largest engineering companies through mergers and acquisitions.
"I was told very explicitly that the Melbourne Business School, and the Executive MBA in particular, was the best that you could do," he says.
"The structure also worked really well. I love that style of learning because you aren't just getting bogged down in theory and losing the 'so what?' or 'does this work?'
"You can iterate in real time. So that was phenomenal."
Having worked in senior roles at Worley since 2010, Ned is convinced that a diversity of voices and ideas are required to help companies meet their changing energy needs.
"We are going to have to apply different types of thinking and different kinds of lessons learned, gleaned from other industries, to solve these energy transition problems we are facing," he says.
"I want to learn from different people, different backgrounds, different fields."
Ned got to experience that diversity on the Executive MBA program, which included a trip to Kuala Lumpur with his classmates to see business in action from a different perspective.
"The experience in KL, when we went to KL, was great, fantastic because we were able to go across to Malaysia as a cohort and glean different nuances around what we were learning from different vantage points," he says.
In his current role, Ned is leading Worley's efforts to see if green energy, such as wind and solar power, can be used to extract hydrogen from water to provide abundant clean energy.
It's unclear if using green energy for a process that requires a lot of electricity can produce enough hydrogen for global needs, but Ned believes that pursuing the lowest-carbon option is important since other ways of producing it from water use coal (brown hydrogen) and natural gas (blue hydrogen), which are fossil fuels.
"In terms of what we're trying to achieve in low-carbon hydrogen, we're trying to solve a problem, and we're trying to figure out how does that become a significant piece in the jigsaw puzzle that is the energy transition," he says.
"My role specifically is working in that team that is trying to come up with better solutions to deliver low-carbon hydrogen assets to our customers."
Ned always had an interest in sustainability and business, but it began to crystallise when he studied finance as an undergraduate student in Perth.
"I did an Introduction to Sustainability unit. I found the two topics not as incongruent as some people did," he says.
"I was of the opinion, and I still hold that opinion, that to get to a point where we are a more sustainable society, we need to figure out how to bring finance, economics and society together."
Learning from First Australians
Ned grew up in the remote town of Fitzroy Crossing in Western Australia, about 1800km north of Perth, where he developed a deep respect for Indigenous Australians.
"I'm incredibly privileged to have been around Indigenous Australians, who are very connected to the land, for good reason," he says.
"It's provided me with a very balanced view of humans and to have a very broad view of society."
As a new father helping to raise his first child in Melbourne, one of Australia's largest cities, the senior Worley executive is more committed than ever to promoting sustainability and diversity.
"It takes a village to raise a child, but it's going to take a much bigger village and a really globally collective effort to get to the point we need to, as a society, to make these problems and solutions to these problems a reality," he says.