2020 Best & Brightest EMBAs: Jeremiah Christopher Clark, Brigham Young University (Marriott)

Jeremiah Christopher Clark                        

Brigham Young University, Marriott School of Business

“I am a capable, data-driven, energetic, kind, and professional man of faith.”

Age: 36

Hometown: Oak Hill, VA

Family Members: AriAnn (wife), Kids: Jeremiah (9), Alaina (7), Mila (6), Ezra(2)

Fun fact about yourself: In 2006 I lived in Namibia, South Africa where I worked for the Red Cross developing the Namibian National 7thth and 8th grade Math curriculum.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Brigham Young University, Bachelor of Science in Mathematics

Where are you currently working? KPMG LLP. – Director, Federal Digital Lighthouse

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work, and Leadership Roles:

Community Youth (Age 8-10) Basketball and Baseball assistant coach

Community Basketball Coach (age 12-18), Youth Sunday School Instructor, Elementary School Art volunteer

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of our capstone consulting project. While my career is in consulting, I have never consulted outside the realm of Data and Analytics or Technology Enablement. For our capstone, we performed a market analysis, made recommendations on a Go/No-Go decision to enter a new market, and suggested a marketing strategy. Our client greatly valued our insight and we were able to put most of our MBA learning to use in the business world. I loved being able to use the parts of business school that were new to me in a real-world, pragmatic way.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? In 2017, I was the recipient of the Chesapeake Area’s Chairman Award for High Performance, KPMG’s highest award for excellence. This award was in recognition for the successful completion of the most difficult project that I have managed in my professional career. The team worked extremely hard for a demanding client, worked together, and used a lot of ingenuity to achieve deadlines that at first seemed impossible. Over that year we not only produced all deliverables on time, but our performance and professionalism was the key factor that led to KPMG being the first firm to win an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract re-compete for this client.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? One of the greatest advantages of a BYU Executive MBA was the quality of the professors. So many of them are rock-stars who challenged us in ways that brought engagement, excitement, and edification. Among this incredible group, I found a particular appreciation for Professor Mark Hansen, the professor of our Strategic Thinking class. Professor Hansen has an amazing ability to direct a conversation or debate without feeling like he was controlling the environment or squashing someone’s statement. His class felt like a joint journey into leadership discovery where we were able to dissect, review, and evaluate some of history’s great leaders. If you paid close attention, it was remarkable how he drove us to specific points and moments despite the class being discussion and question-focused. Truly a masterful leadership quality in itself! Everyone appreciated this class and came prepared and ready to engage due to his ability to set up an effective discussion.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? Being from Virginia, BYU was not the easiest option for business school. However, when contemplating different business school options, I frequently found myself turning to a paragraph on BYU’s website about their MBA:

“BYU is uniquely positioned to provide students with more than secular education. We tie principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ into business learning. Learning how to be Christ-like businessmen and women serves students in a greater way than simply increasing their business acumen; it serves them in the business of life.”

Working for a Big 4 accounting firm, I felt like I had already received and would continue to receive significant training in finance, accounting, and business. I decided to attend BYU because I bought into BYU’s proposal of becoming something rather than just learning.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? My favorite aspect of the executive MBA was the association with other busy professionals who decided to dedicate what little available time they had to the endeavor of business school. Classmates cared about the topics, experience, and learning. Every class showed dedication, passion, and an openness to be taught. I looked forward to the engaging debate, discussion of real issues and potential solutions and learning from other incredible individuals who participated with purpose.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family, and education? This has been the absolute hardest thing over these two years. Especially being the Dad to a family of four young children. Since I had to fly to class each weekend from Virginia to Utah, my wife and I agreed that I would take one child with me each time. Luckily, we have parents in Utah who would watch the child while I was actually in class. Flying every other weekend with a child in tow while trying to do homework proved very challenging. One particular flight, I was struggling while trying to explain a topic to my nine-year-old son from my homework (I found teaching a child is the perfect test to see if you really understand a subject). He turned to me and said, “Dad, I will pay better attention in school so that I don’t have to do it again when I am your age!”

What was the biggest lesson you learned in business school? Without a doubt, the biggest lesson I gained from this experience was how important it was to be a leader who listened more, prescribed less, and focused on team member’s strengths. Prior to the MBA, I was always quick to point out potential solutions or even prescribe specific steps to achieve the task. By listening more and stepping back from micromanagement, I have found that team members have been empowered to bring their talents and strengths to the table. I have noticed that our projects have made overall better decisions, have had better team-driven results, and maintained higher morale in the face of demanding projects and schedules.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? For me, the biggest myth was that it is too late. I was sure I would be the oldest and not fit the mold of my younger classmates. I could not have been more wrong. I was right in the middle of my class’s experience and greatly valued the opinion of both the younger and older. Business school is not just for the young.

What was your biggest regret in business school? My biggest regret in business school was not taking more time to interact and learn from my classmates. They brought incredible backgrounds and abilities into this program and the first year I spent so much time with my head down in books that I missed many interactions with them. Studying together, spending time together and making friendships is one of the greatest outcomes of the MBA.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Sara Nelson. Sara constantly impressed me with her quick thinking, a different perspective, and dedication. I found that I often found myself asking for her advice and viewpoints on anything that I may be contemplating. Her ability to communicate directly and openly with everyone in the program is something that I greatly admire. On top of that Sara, had her first child half-way through our program! Talk about commitment and ability to juggle demands. Wow!

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I was first assigned to be a project lead at KPMG. I wanted training in business leadership and business strategy, something that I had never had formal training in before.”

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I have built my career in data and analytic consulting for the US Federal Government. My ultimate long-term goal is to be able to open a similar personal business that focuses on building data and analytic capabilities for developing governments in Africa.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? As someone that cared deeply for others and could be relied upon to come prepared, share insight, and actively listen to others.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? I have always wanted to go heli-boarding. Freedom is found knee-deep in powder barreling down a mountainside making fresh tracks! What could be more amazing than an entire day of fresh tracks and backcountry bliss?

I also want to create a not-for-profit charity with my family before my oldest graduates from high school. I want my kids to help plan and execute humanitarian projects to show them that they are capable of making a significant impact for good in this world. Having hands on experience in project planning, execution and coordination before they leave the house and live on their own will empower them to be people who make change and know where to start. I would love to focus on humanitarian work in Africa, where I have spent over 3 years on previous projects but am open to the input of my family.

What made Chris such an invaluable addition to the class of 2020?

“Chris Clark epitomizes all that we hope for in an Executive MBA at BYU Marriott. He came to the program with several years of successful, even stellar leadership experience consulting at KPMG. This gave Chris a deep pool of rich and varied business experience to both draw and build upon. This background of success, coupled with a remarkable work ethic and determination, enabled Chris to be a strong contributor in the classroom and on team projects. Notwithstanding his remarkable background, Chris came to the program with a humility and hunger to learn from his classmates and professors which made his learning experience great and his contributions even greater. Chris also made remarkable sacrifices to participate in the program—flying every 2 weeks from Virginia to Utah for classes. This drove Chris to “lean in” and maximize his learning. Finally, and most importantly, as evident in his performance with classmates, Chris has both the desire and capacity to lift others as he himself rises. Chris aided and inspired his colleagues in the program and grew to become both a friend and mentor to many. We are proud that Chris will represent the BYU Marriott MBA as he marches forward to make a positive difference in his family, community, career, and the world.”

Dr. Glenn L. Christensen
Associate Director of the BYU Marriott MBA Program


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