Staff Reporters
Oct 27, 2022

Creative Minds: Anthony Baker loves live music and ripe plantains

Get to know the VP of tech strategy at RGA who talks about his wide-ranging passion for music, creating board games when he was younger, and a near-death experience skiing in Japan.

Anthony Baker
Anthony Baker
In Creative Minds, we ask APAC creatives a long list of questions, from serious to silly, and ask them to pick 11 to answer. (Why 11? Just because.) Want to be featured?

Name: Anthony Baker

Origin: Born and raised in Costa Rica, half British

Places lived/worked: San Jose + Guanacaste, Costa Rica ; Toulouse + Paris, France; London, UK; Tokyo + Hakuba, Japan

Pronouns: He/him

CV:

  • VP, head of technology strategy, APAC, RGA, 2021-present
  • Public speaker and thought leadership writer, 2011-present
  • Executive technology director, Tokyo, RGA, 2018-2021
  • Group technology director, Tokyo, RGA, 2017-2018
  • Technology director, EMEA, RGA, 2015-2017
  • Associate technology director, London, RGA, 2014-2015
  • Technology lead & solutions architect, London, RGA, 2013-2014
  • Senior software engineer & solutions architect, London, RGA, 2011-2013
  • Software architect consultant, Costa Rica, Possible Worldwide, 2010-2011
  • Software architect & game sirector, MysteryD, Costa Rica, 2010
  • Software architect, Possible Worldwide (formerly Schematic), Costa Rica, 2008-2010
  • Senior software developer, Possible Worldwide (formerly Schematic), Costa Rica, 2007-2008
  • Software engineer, BAC San Jose, Costa Rica, 2004-2006
  • Network administrator, Costa Rica, GreenTech S.A., 2003-2004
  • Professional TV actor, Costa Rica, 1996-2011
  • Professional radio voice talent, Costa Rica, 1999-2011
  • Professional theatre actor, Costa Rica, 1998-2015
  • Bass player, Tokyo, 2020-Present
  • Bass player, London, 2012-2015
  • Bass player, Costa Rica, 2000-2010

1. How did you end up being a creative?

I grew up in a family that was always involved in arts. My two aunts were well-known professional contemporary dance artists, my uncle was a published poetry writer. Music was always present in our houses, and art was a daily life thing. However, I always had a big itch for technology, gadgets, robots and the like. My dad was a self-taught electronics engineer in London, and had his own tech business when he moved to Costa Rica.

I always dreamed of being an 'inventor' and building robots and tech gadgets to help with house chores. But when it came to choosing my university path, I realised that in Costa Rica becoming an inventor would be a very hard thing to do, so I ended up choosing and being admitted in Computer Sciences, which was the closest thing at the time. Long story short, that path took me to working with some of the most talented people in the digital creative business, and some of the biggest brands in the world. I found my happy place helping brands and teams find the most creative and innovative ways to leverage technology in strategic ways to create awesome experiences, from crazy interactive TV apps back in 2007 to deep tech virtual face mapping physical installations in Japan in recent years.

Although my professional background in this industry is intertwined with technology, I’ve always been a creative person and a professional since childhood, and I continue to be. I have played electric bass guitar for the past 20 years, I worked in TV, theatre, live events and radio for 14 years, and I continue to explore interesting ways to combine all my passions in the most creative ways possible.

2. What's your favourite piece of work in your portfolio? 

The work we did for Shiseido’s GIC Center inauguration in Japan was a testament of our team’s ability to create new deep technologies to create an amazing time travel experience.

I’m really proud of the 'Plastic Waste Reduction' startup accelerator with did in partnership with National Geographic in Sydney. 

3. What's your favourite piece of work created by someone else? 

I loved Monument Valley, created by US Two. Also, all the work related to the Spotify Playlist Recommendations was pretty ground-breaking at the time, and we took a lot of inspiration on how to leverage data to create awesome brand experiences.

4. What/who are your key creative influences?

I draw from many influences, as inspiration and art are everywhere. My main influences right now are funk music and bassists like Flea, Larry Graham and Marcus Mille, fantasy and sci-fi writers like Tolkien and Dan Simmons, and artists like Yoshitoshi (Japanese Woodblocks) and Hokusai.

5. What kind of student were you?

I was very organised and structured. Very independent. I used to pay a lot of attention in class, so I had to do little work after class, which let me spend more time reading. I was an avid sci-fi, fantasy and poetry reader.

6. What's the craziest thing you've ever done?

Swimming with whales, including a baby whale that literally swam a metre away from me. Also, during a live concert in Tokyo, I was called on the stage to jam along with some of the best local musicians, including Kenji “JINO” Hino, a very well-known bass player who played with greats like Jaco Pastorius and Marcus Miller.

Separately, the closest I have been to losing my life. I went snowboarding by myself in a forest area, on a Japanese ski resort’s side-country. I had a sudden accident that left me unconscious for more than half an hour in the middle of the forest with deep snow with no one around. When I woke up, my helmet and my goggles were broken, and I had a big bruise on my face. As I stood up I realised that my ankle was probably broken! There was no one around, and my phone was dead. I had to walk back to the resort in deep snow, then strapped again to my board and went down the slopes to the petrol station at the base of the mountain. They could not believe I made it back on my own after being unconscious for so long. That was a close call! Two surgeries and two years back, and I keep going to the backcountry every season (not alone though).

7. What's on your bucket list?

See the Pyramids in Egypt, the Mayan and Aztec ruins in Mexico and Incan Machu Picchu, visit Petra and Iceland. Ride a hot air balloon in Cappadocia. Play a jazz gig with great musicians at Blue Note.

8. Who’s on your dream dinner guest list (alive or dead)?

James Jamerson (Motown bass player), Angelina Jolie, Miles Davis, Chaka Khan, J.R.R. Tolkien, Flea, Marcus Miller, Victor Wooten, and Luis Royo.

9. Tell us about the worst job you ever had.

Shoe-store salesman. I could not sit down for eight hours, and I hated bringing shoe boxes back and forth. However, I stuck to it for an entire summer to make some extra money and help my mom with house bills.

10. Do you have any secret or odd talents?

I’m the UK champion of Japanese Swordmanship (Iai-do) and came third place in Europe on the first rank (Mudan). I used to create board games when I was a teenager, I was really good at it.

11. What food can you not live without? What food would you be happy to never taste again? 

My favourite food is ripe plantain. They are so hard to find in Japan, so I spent four years without eating them. My wife recently found a shop that imports them, and I tried to eat them every day. Latin America natives used to say it is the fruit of happiness.

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