Worcester Polytechnic Institute honored 1986 alumnus James P. Baum with the university's inaugural WPI Innovator of the Year Award. The award recognizes a graduate or friend of WPI who has demonstrated exemplary accomplishments, showcasing individuals who have excelled in driving innovation within enterprises of all kinds.
"Jim Baum is a wonderful exemplar of how technological innovation coupled with entrepreneurial savvy can drive economic development for the direct benefit of employees and investors, and for the greater good of society," said WPI President Dennis Berkey. "His leadership and achievements are truly a source of inspiration and pride for WPI."
Baum said that his role in innovation is to nurture and lead, and to find real world applications and solutions, as well as to develop motivated teams around those ideas. "Innovation comes in many forms, not just in the development of new technology or product but also in the approach we take to bringing that idea to society. The exciting thing about innovation is that with the good ones, we really can change the world," he said.
After graduating from WPI with a BS in mechanical engineering, Baum received an MS in engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and went to work for Parametric Technology Corp. where he began his career as an engineer. Over the course of his 11 years at Parametric Technology, he worked in various positions in the areas of product management, marketing, and strategy; ultimately, as executive vice president and general manager, he helped drive the company's growth to more than $1 billion in revenues. During his time at the corporation, his work on the Windchill and ProEngineer systems helped change the product development process for thousands of discrete manufacturing companies all over the globe.
In 2001, Baum became president and COO of Endeca Technologies, an enterprise information management company. He led that company from a startup to the leading provider of innovative information access and delivery software solutions to the Global 2000 and was promoted to CEO in 2005. In 2006, he moved on to Netezza Corp., a provider of data warehousing and analytics, where he ultimately served as president and CEO, leading the company through 14 quarters of growth before its acquisition by IBM for $1.7 billion.
"The WPI School of Business focuses on accelerating the discovery, development, and commercialization of breakthrough innovation, as well as economic development and job creation," said Mark P. Rice, dean of WPI's School of Business. "The WPI Innovator of the Year Celebration is a key building block in the WPI entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem. It supports our commitment to growing the ecosystem in three ways. First, it will provide role models for our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends. Second, it will catalyze the engagement of highly successful innovators and entrepreneurs in the transformation of WPI. And third, it will inspire them to commit their time, talent, and financial resources to help WPI become a leading global contributor to addressing the global grand challenges."