Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer
Eric is Barings’ Global Head of Private Assets and Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Barings BDC, Inc., responsible for managing all aspects of Barings' global private finance enterprise, which includes global middle market direct lending, infrastructure, private placements, private asset-backed securities, equipment finance and whole loan residential mortgage. He also oversees strategic relationship management as a member of Barings’ Senior Leadership Team.
Eric has worked in the industry since 1990 and his experience has encompassed leadership positions in investment management, investment banking, leveraged finance and risk management. Prior to joining Barings in 2013, Eric served as Head of Market and Institutional Risk for Wells Fargo, was on Wells Fargo's Management Committee, and was a member of the Board of Directors of Wells Fargo Securities.
Before the acquisition of Wachovia, Eric worked in Wachovia's Global Markets Investment Banking division and served on the division's Operating Committee where he had various leadership positions, including Head of Wachovia's Global Leveraged Finance Group.
Eric is an Executive Sponsor of both the Veteran’s and the Out & Allies Employee Resource Groups. He holds a B.S. in Finance from the University of Virginia, McIntire School of Commerce.
Thomas W. Okel
Thomas brings over 20 years of experience in the underwriting, structuring, distribution and trading of debt used for corporate acquisitions, leveraged buyouts, recapitalizations and refinancings. From 2011 until 2019, he served as Executive Director of Catawba Lands Conservancy, a nonprofit land trust.
Prior to joining Catawba Lands Conservancy, he served as Global Head of Syndicated Capital Markets at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, where he managed capital markets, sales, trading and research for the United States, Europe, Asia and Latin America from 1989 to 2010. He currently serves as trustee or director of several public companies and non-profit organizations, including as Trustee of Barings Global Short Duration High Yield Fund, a closed-end investment company advised by Barings, Trustee of the Horizon Funds, a mutual fund complex, Trustee of Davidson College, and Director of CrossRoads Corporation for Affordable Housing and Community Development, Inc.
Thomas holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Davidson College and a Masters of Management, Finance, Accounting and Marketing from Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University.
Dr. Bernard A. Harris, Jr.
Dr. Harris brings substantial executive, board and operations experience to Barings. He currently serves as Chief Executive Officer and Director of the National Math and Science Initiative, a non-profit organization focused on increasing student opportunities and achievement and teaching effectiveness in STEM education. Dr. Harris is also the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Partner of Vesalius Ventures, Inc. a venture capital firm that invests in early- to mid-stage healthcare technologies and companies. Prior to these positions, he served as a Clinical Scientist, Flight Surgeon and Astronaut for NASA.
Dr. Harris currently serves as Director or Trustee of several registered investment companies and other public and private organizations. In addition, he is on the Boards the National Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine - Board on Health Policy, the Texas Medical Center, National Math and Science Initiative, and the Harris Institute & Foundation.
He earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Houston, a Master of Medical Science from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, a Master of Business Administration from the University of Houston, and a Doctorate of Medicine from Texas Tech University School of Medicine. He completed his residency in Internal Medicine at the Mayo Clinic, completed a National Research Council Fellowship in Endocrinology at the NASA Ames Research Center, and trained as a Flight Surgeon at the Aerospace School of Medicine, Brooks Air Force Base.
Dr. Harris is the recipient of numerous awards, including nine (9) honorary doctorates, NASA Space Flight Medal, NASA Award of Merit, a fellow of the American College of Physicians, and was the recipient of the 2000 Horatio Alger Award.
Jill is a Founding Partner of Spivey & Olmstead, LLC, a talent and leadership consulting firm with expertise in the fields of executive development and talent management founded in June 2010. Jill works with C-suite executives as an executive coach and helps lead companies' efforts on talent strategies such as diversity and inclusion, employee engagement, and succession planning. She has built a reputation as an executive with a strategic and pragmatic approach to talent management with an eye toward bottom line results.
Jill brings over 20 years of senior leadership experience in human resources to the financial services industry where she was Managing Director from 2006 to 2009 and Executive Vice President from 2000 to 2006 at Wachovia Corporation (now Wells Fargo). In this capacity, she was both the Head of Human Resources for the Corporate and Investment Bank and the Head of Human Resources for the International Businesses, responsible for HR services.
Prior to this, she formed and led the Leadership Practices Group at Wachovia to create and implement a company-wide talent management process that identified, developed, tracked and promoted high potential leaders throughout their careers. Jill received a Bachelor of Science from Clemson University and a Masters in Organization Behavior and Development from Fielding University. She is on several non-profit boards and active in the community with a focus on education, the arts, and homeless prevention.
John Switzer is currently a member of the Board of Directors of Carolina Tractor and Equipment Company, a large, privately held southeastern supplier that specializes in material handling, engineered systems, truck engines, power generation systems, and they supply construction, forestry, and paving products.
Prior to these positions, starting in 2007 John served as managing partner in KPMG's Charlotte office and became the Chair of the Charlotte office in 2009 until retirement in 2016, where he was the market leader for KPMG's Carolinas, Florida, and San Juan offices.
Before that, he served as managing partner of KPMG's Cleveland from 1999 to 2007 and the Louisville and Lexington offices in Kentucky from 1988 to 1995. John currently serves on the boards of The Mint Museum and the National Association of Corporate Directors, Carolinas Chapter.
Mark currently serves as Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer at Highwoods Properties, Inc., a Raleigh, North Carolina based publicly-traded real estate investment trust. Mark joined Highwoods in September 2014. He previously served on the Highwoods Board of Directors and Audit Committee from 2012 through 2014.
Prior to joining Highwoods, Mark served as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Exco Resources, Inc. Before that, he served as Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Progress Energy, Inc. from 2008 until its merger with Duke Energy Corporation in 2012. He joined Progress Energy in 1996 as Vice President and Controller and served in a number of roles, including Vice President of Strategic Planning, Senior Vice President of Finance and President of Progress Ventures. He also spent eight years at Price Waterhouse.
Mark is a Certified Public Accountant and is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University. He currently serves on the board of McKim and Creed, a North Carolina based professional engineering services firm.
David serves as Head of U.S. Public Fixed Income at Barings, with primary responsibility for the U.S. High Yield and Investment Grade Investment Groups. He is also Chairman of the U.S. High Yield Investment Committee, a member of the Global High Yield Allocation Committee and a portfolio manager on various high yield strategies. Prior to his current role, he served as Head of Barings’ U.S. High Yield Credit Research Group.
David has worked in the financial services industry since 2004. Prior to joining the firm in 2008, he was a Vice President with Wachovia Securities Leveraged Finance Group, where he was responsible for sell-side origination of leveraged loans and high yield bonds to support both corporate and private equity issuers.
Before that, he served as an officer in the United States Air Force and worked in the telecommunications industry for seven years. David holds a B.S. from the United States Air Force Academy, an M.S. from the University of Washington, and an M.B.A. from Wake Forest University.
Robert Knapp brings over 25 years of experience in the financial services industry to the Board. He is the Founder and Chief Investment Officer of Ironsides Partners LLC, a Boston based investment manager specializing in closed-end funds, holding companies, and asset value investing generally. Ironsides and related entities serve as the manager and general partner to various funds and managed accounts for institutional clients.
Robert is also a director of Okeanis Eco Tankers, Emergent Capital, and the Pacific Alliance Asia Opportunity Fund and its related entities and Pacific Alliance Group Asset Management Ltd., based in Hong Kong. He is a principal and director of Africa Opportunity Partners Limited, a Cayman Islands company that serves as the investment manager to Africa Opportunity Fund Limited. Additionally, Robert serves as a member of the Board of Managers of Veracity Worldwide LLC.
Before these roles, he served as the Lead Independent Director of MVC Capital, Inc., was an independent, nonexecutive director of Castle Private Equity AG, and was formerly a director of MPC Container Ships. He also acted as managing director for over ten years with Millennium Partners. In the non-profit sector, Robert serves as a director of the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, and is a Trustee of the Children’s School of Science and the Sea Education Association.
Mr. Byers is a senior executive with over 30 years of leadership experience in finance, operations and control, investment management and capital markets with leading national firms in asset management, banking and brokerage. Mr. Byers serves as the Independent Chairman of the Board of Directors of Deutsche Bank DBX ETF Trust and as a member of the audit and nominating committees. Since 2016, Mr. Byers has also served as a board member of the Mutual Fund Directors Forum, an independent, non-profit organization serving independent directors of U.S. funds registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission under the 1940 Act. Mr. Byers served as an Independent Director and Chairman of Sierra Income Corporation, a non-traded business development company (BDC) sponsored by Medley LLC (NYSE:MCC), from 2012 to 2022. Sierra Income merged with Barings BDC, Inc. in February, 2022, in connection with which Mr. Byers was appointed to the Board of Directors of Barings BDC, Inc. From 2002 to 2012, Mr. Byers also served as Trustee for the College of William and Mary Graduate School of Business. Since 2014, Mr. Byers has been engaged periodically as an independent consultant to provide expert reports and opinions in financial and investment related matters. From 2000 to 2006, Mr. Byers served as an investment executive with Dreyfus Corporation and served as Vice Chairman, Executive Vice President, Chief Investment Officer, member of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee, and fund officer of 90 investment companies, responsible for investment performance of approximately $200 billion in assets under management. Prior to joining Dreyfus Corporation, Mr. Byers served in executive positions at PaineWebber Group from 1986 to 1997, and served in such capacities as chairman of the Investment Policy and Risk Oversight Committee, Capital Markets Director of Risk and Credit Management, and was NASD registered as General Principal, Financial and Operations Principal and Branch Principal. Prior to PaineWebber, Mr. Byers was an executive at Citibank/Citicorp from 1979 to 1986. Mr. Byers received his M.B.A. in Finance from Roth Graduate School of Business, Long Island University and his B.A. in Economics from Long Island University. In December 2014, Mr. Byers was recognized by the National Association of Corporate Directors as a Board Leadership Fellow.
Ms. Lancaster-Beal is a financial professional with extensive management and board level experience in corporate governance, credit and financial analysis. Ms. Lancaster-Beal is the President and Chief Executive Officer of VLB Associates, a management consulting firm she founded in January 2014 that provides financial and operational advisory services to middle-market businesses, investment firms and non-profit organizations. In this capacity, she previously served as the Chief Financial Officer of Odyssey Media from 2015 to 2021, and as the Chief Administrative and Finance Director of Data Capital Management from 2015 to 2017. Prior to this, she served as Managing Director at M.R. Beal & Company, which she co-founded in April 1988, until 2014. Ms. Lancaster-Beal was a Senior Vice President of Drexel Burnham Lambert from 1984 to 1988 and as Vice President of Citicorp Investment Bank from 1978 to 1984. Ms. Lancaster-Beal served as an Independent Director and Chair of the Nominating and Governance committee and the Audit committee of Sierra Income Corporation, a non-traded business development company (BDC) sponsored by Medley LLC (NYSE:MCC), from 2021 to 2022. Sierra Income merged with Barings BDC, Inc. in February, 2022, in connection with which Ms. Lancaster-Beal was appointed to the Board of Directors of Barings BDC, Inc. Ms. Lancaster-Beal currently serves on the Board of Directors of KIPP NYC, a network of free, public charter schools. She also previously served as a Trustee on the Board of the City University of New York from 2000 to 2014, where she chaired the Faculty, Staff and Administration Committee and served on the Finance Committee. Additionally, Ms. Lancaster-Beal served on the Board of Regents of Georgetown University from 2006 to 2010. Ms. Lancaster-Beal holds a B.A. in Economics from Georgetown University and an M.B.A. from the Wharton School of Business of the University of Pennsylvania.