Leadership award recipient guides team with trust, compassion and unfailing support

March 21, 2023

In recognition of her exemplary leadership, Anke Baker is a recipient of a 2023 Staff Achievement Award. After initially joining SFU’s School of Business in 2010, Baker moved to the Department of Geography in 2014, where she is the manager, academic and administrative services.

Baker is described by colleagues as a leader who makes those around her feel trusted, supported, and heard. Not only can she always be relied on for her decision-making prowess, efficiency and wealth of knowledge, she inspires confidence and positivity in her team through her “can-do” attitude and calming disposition.

“Whenever I have any kind of question or issue, I know I can go to Anke for a creative, practical and timely solution,” says a colleague. “She has a ‘yes, we can do it, this is how, and I’ll help you along the way’ attitude.”

“Every day at work, I benefit from her encyclopedic mind, tireless work ethic, consistent professionalism and contagious commitment to collegiality,” shares another.

Baker provides administrative leadership in the department, including financial management, human resource management, employee relations, course planning and policy advice. She also works in tandem with the department chair on a variety of operational and strategic initiatives. The diversity of her work is one of the things she enjoys most about her job.

“While I’m very good at planning ahead and making sure I get all the important things done, I really never know what my days will look like,” she says, “and I love it.”

Her other favourite aspect of the job, she says, is working with the geography community. “It’s a really good group of people and I just like being with them.”

Colleagues credit Baker for the department’s welcoming, inclusive, and collaborative work atmosphere. She never fails to be available for support when needed, making those who come to her always feel like a priority.

When it comes to her approach to leadership, Baker says it evolves over time with trial and error. She aims to be mindful of not only what goes on in the department, but also in people’s lives. “It’s basic human decency,” she says. “You respect your fellow human beings, you listen to them, you trust them — because they know what they’re doing in their roles.”

She also keeps the team united by reminding them of shared common goals and appreciates and encourages their individuality. “Everybody’s different. Everybody has different strengths, and if I can cater to those, we’re good,” she says.

Finally, Baker emphasizes that it’s the community around her that allows her to do what she does; “It’s a team effort. I would not be able to accomplish anything on my own if I wasn’t surrounded by people who support me every day.”