Eight to Eight
PROVO, Utah – Mar 12, 2020 – A study group at BYU whose members called themselves the 8 to 8 Club gave BYU Marriott accounting alum Mike Baird the foundational team and leadership skills he now uses as president of a company that works to save the lives of people across America.
“We would study for major accounting tests from eight in the morning until eight at night in the Cougareat food court,” says Baird. “We even had T-shirts made—those are some of my fondest memories.”
Baird’s experience with his study group taught him the importance of teamwork at the start of his career. “Often when you're in a competitive program, people feel the need to beat others around them, but I never had that feeling,” says Baird. “Our group was very close-knit, and we did our best to ensure we all succeeded.”
While a lot of his peers wanted to work in accounting firms, Baird took another path after graduating with a bachelor's degree in accounting in 1999. Baird worked at Dell for four years as a financial analyst and brand manager before leaving to earn his MBA at Northwestern University in 2005. He later worked for McKinsey & Co as an engagement manager and then at Cisco as the director of product management for video conferencing.
During his time with Cisco, Baird recognized an opportunity in telehealth, a market that provides health-related services online. Consequently, in 2013 Baird and a team of colleagues founded Avizia, a software platform and device that allows doctors and specialists to conduct telehealth video consultations with hospital patients anywhere in the world. Avizia was implemented into more than thirteen hundred hospitals nationwide before being acquired by American Well.
"We built this company from nothing into one of the biggest telehealth companies in the country in five years,” says Baird. “When you start thinking about the BYU mission of entering to learn, going forth to serve—this fits that. Not only do we get to work with fantastic technology, but we have literally saved thousands of lives by virtue of our technology.”
For three years in a row, Avizia was named one of Modern Healthcare’s best places to work. “Companies either have a culture by design or by default,” says Baird who deliberately created a culture by design at Avizia. “You want to design culture from the start because when you do, you build an organization that is moving in the same direction, is more efficient, and is more motivated to create greatness.”
While Baird’s career has been filled with success, he says his most important work is on the home front. “Without a doubt, my greatest accomplishment is having a happy family with my amazing wife Katie and our five fantastic kids.”
Since Avizia’s acquisition in 2018, Baird has served as president of the company. He also serves as the president of the BYU Management Society, a worldwide network of business professionals working to grow moral and ethical leadership around the world. In addition, Baird serves on the board for the American Telemedicine Association and Videonor, a cloud-based video conferencing company, and is a venture partner with Waterline Ventures, a venture firm that backs exceptional healthcare entrepreneurs.
As Baird looks back on his career, he has taken what he learned from the 8 to 8 Club and implemented that knowledge throughout his career. “I started in accounting, but my career took me into marketing, strategy, operations, and general management,” says Baird. “However, all of that was rooted in my ability to think, problem solve, and analyze in a structured manner—that’s the beauty of the BYU Marriott accounting program."
Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Kate Monroe