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Bak to Business

Kogod School of Business alum Ed Baklor retired from the hospitality industry and immediately turned to a new project, launching Service is Bak to network and consult with his vast connections from AU and his career.

Ed Baklor

Kogod School of Business alumnus Ed Baklor.


If you told Ed Baklor that he would one day become the senior vice president of the Walt Disney Company after graduating from The Kogod School of Business in 1980 with a BS in business administration and a concentration in finance, he would have said you were smoking something. Yet, as he learned through experience, having a singular focus in your career can limit your opportunities.

“You don’t know what else is going to come your way,” says Baklor.

He started his professional career as a financial analyst for a commercial real estate company, faced with spreadsheets and a ten-key adding machine. Although he was the first at his company to have a personal desk computer, Baklor found that he much preferred being on the other side of his desk, engaging with customers and coworkers. This is how he discovered his passion for leadership and operations.

With his broad education base from American University, except for a few-week-long program at Cornell’s Hotel Administration and Hospitality Management, Baklor moved into the general manager role of World Showcase at Epcot for the Walt Disney Company.

“It’s very unusual for Disney to bring in someone at the GM level that hadn’t grown up immersed in the parks,” explains Baklor. His husband started directing cars in the Disney parking lots at age 18, and many other employees from the company have similar starting-out stories.

“I was privileged and honored for the opportunity, but quickly learned that entering a company—especially one with a brand like Disney—requires one to enter with a significant degree of humility,” he says.

Baklor found early on that he could learn valuable lessons by involving himself with company members at all levels. He networked within the Walt Disney Company and took on initiatives outside his day-to-day role to immerse himself more thoroughly in the company culture.

After nearly fifteen years working for the Walt Disney Company, Baklor transitioned to a role focused on the customer experience for a luxury train company based in Canada before moving into a role with WestJet, Canada’s version of JetBlue, then becoming the chief commercial officer of Laguardia Airport in New York and rounding out his career as the head of customer care and programs for JetBlue before retiring in December 2022. Through all these positions, he stuck to his mission to connect with people at all levels of the organization while considering how every employee plays a role in customer experience.

From saying good morning to the building maintenance team while admiring LaGuardia’s Terminal B water feature that he helped implement to leading diversity resource groups that empowered staff members to be their authentic selves in the workplace.

“The Walt Disney Company launched a resource group for the LGBTQ community among employees. As a gay executive, I was asked to be the executive champion for the initiative. This allowed me to guide employees and cast members at all levels,” says Baklor.

People will always remember how you made them feel. That’s why I made it a point no matter what company I worked for or what position I had to say good morning to employees and involve myself in matters outside of the four walls of my office.”


Ed Baklor

Founder, Service is Bak

Baklor woke up on January 2, 2023, and said, “What’s next?” because he never planned to take any time off in retirement.

After over forty years of work in the hospitality industry, Baklor is ready to jump into mentorship and consulting. “The joy of connecting with people never dissipates. I’m just pivoting in retirement to see how else I can make a difference for customers and employees across organizations,” he explains.

Baklor is currently investing his time and energy in Service is Bak, his own consulting and advisory services organization which he both leads and founded. Baklor hopes to join professional boards and has been tapping into his Kogod School of Business network to connect with new and old friends.

“I’ve used LinkedIn extensively to connect with hundreds of professionals. One pre-qualifier I look for is a Kogod degree, that right there tells you that they’re a quality person,” says Baklor.

Baklor also found himself engaged with the Kogod School of Business dean David Marchick who secured Baklor a spot to present as a guest lecturer for Kogod professor of information technology and analytics Itir Kareasmen Aydin’s Operation’s Management Course.

“It was amazing to hear from Ed. He worked alongside line workers to understand the challenges employees face daily,” says Karaesmen Aydin. “Ed did not shy away from sharing failures or unpleasant moments in his career. The examples he provides complemented the discussions my students and I have in the classroom.”

Ed noted that staying true to himself allowed him to garner respect from his peers while also helping him differentiate himself from coworkers and move up the corporate ladder.”


Jack Green

Finance student, Kogod School of Business

Just over three months into retirement, Baklor has already connected with over 50 people from his LinkedIn network and visited the Kogod School of Business to impart wisdom to our lucky students and others from the Kogod community.

“Ed Baklor was an inspiring and valuable addition to the lessons we’ve been learning in Professor Karaesmen Aydin’s Operations Management Course,” says Kogod senior in business administration Jaden Montgomery—also enrolled in the combined five-year bachelor’s/master’s program in sustainability management.

If you’re interested in contacting Baklor, you can always find him on LinkedIn, ready and willing to discuss ways that might be mutually beneficial for each other and your pursuits within the business world.