2016 Best MBAs: Trevor Clark, Georgia Tech Scheller

Trevor Clark Georgia Tech

Trevor Clark


Scheller College of Business, Georgia Institute of Technology

(I am pursuing both an MBA degree and a MS in Civil Engineering degree simultaneously.)

“When I first visited [Scheller], I noticed something unique about the student body. Not only were there students from around the world, from every different background imaginable, and with tremendous intelligence, but by the time they were second-year students, they had become family.”

Age: 27

Hometown: Lexington, KY

Undergraduate School and Degree: United States Coast Guard Academy; Civil Engineering

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? I was (and still am) a Lieutenant in the U.S. Coast Guard, and was the Section Chief for Industrial Maintenance of all West Coast Patrol Boats, in Norfolk, VA.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2015? I was not permitted to attain a paid internship because of my active duty military status, but while taking evening classes during the summer, I was able to secure volunteer internships with Ahlberg Engineering Inc. and a local start-up company called ARMR Systems. ARMR Systems developed a wearable hemorrhage control device designed to stop bleeding in an effort to increase the survivability of traumatic battlefield injuries in situations where advanced medical support is not immediately available. It started at the Advanced Technology Development Center, a technology business incubator on the Georgia Tech campus, by two GT biomedical engineering grads. They moved to Boston to a start-up accelerator in the fall. I have helped them develop a manufacturing strategy and plan. I’ve conducted research about potential manufacturers for both custom first batch orders and scaled production. I have also helped the CEO with broad company strategy and advice on how to meet their sales objectives.

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be returning to the Coast Guard as a Lieutenant working at the Civil Engineering Unit in Oakland, California as a Project Manager.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School? It has been great to join other students who have a passion for giving back. I am proud to say that I am a founding and active member of the Scheller MBA Veterans Club. We started as a social club, but have become a crucial part of the behind-the-scenes running of the MBA experience. I’ve been active with the Scheller MBA Philanthropy Club, which sponsors a portion of a local Beltline trail and helps keep the park free of litter. I am currently working towards becoming a Volunteer Skilled Supervisor for Habitat for Humanity and have led the Georgia Tech Geotechnical Engineering Club to get involved with Habitat for Humanity as well.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud that I was able to earn two full graduate degrees in two years at Georgia Tech, one in a technical field (M.S. Civil Engineering – Geotechnical Engineering) and one in a management field (the MBA). It was a requirement of the Coast Guard program for which I was selected to attain both degrees, but Georgia Tech did not have a dedicated dual-degree program at the time I started the program. (They have since launched one.) I was not 100% confident it was even possible to finish both degrees when I walked in on day one, but it still felt like the right school for me.

I am proud that I accomplished this while still making time to participate in Adventure Racing. Adventure Races (AR) are outdoor endurance events that can last from 12 hours to several days. During ARs you grind your body through obstacles in the wilderness, navigating with nothing but a map and compass. I love pushing myself to the limit, mentally and physically. This is never more apparent than in my passion for Adventure Racing. I love that every decision you make in training, gear selection and race course strategy can determine if you win the race or even just make it to the finish line. There is something primordially satisfying about being completely mentally and physically exhausted at the end. I love every minute of it. Though it sounds cliché, I learn so much from these races that I can apply to the business world. These races teach you to over-prepare, but also to contend with unexpected challenges. When you find yourself lost in the woods at 2 a.m., alone, hungry, exhausted and running out of battery in your headlamp, what do you do? Is this not unlike a CEO struggling with almost certain failure? How do you deal with the pressure? By keeping calm, analyzing the problem, and determining a strategy to slowly crawl out of the hole. I think these races prepare me for the perseverance and grit I will need later in my career. Last year I participated in the FLX Sea-2-Sea 72-hour AR during which we crossed the peninsula of Florida using only human power and very minimal sleep. It was the single hardest race I have ever completed, but so much fun. This past fall, I completed the REV3 Bartram Wildwood 26-hour AR with several friends, including Dan Murphy (also a Scheller MBA student). I have three races planned for this spring, one of which I will be sponsored by U.S. Military Endurance Sports. I am pretty excited about that.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Being selected as the “Section Chief” for West Coast Planned Depot Maintenance while at the Patrol Boat Product Line in Norfolk, VA. This put me in a position directly responsible for keeping 36 ships (spread out from Alaska to California, and out to Guam) operational with limited resources and only ten personnel to get the job done. With this team, I planned and executed 69 comprehensive industrial maintenance projects worth a combined $7.4 million. dollars. It was an incredible challenge to be entrusted with when I was only 24 years old, and I was humbled by the fact that my superiors trusted that I could do it.

Favorite MBA Courses? Business Strategies for Sustainability. This course has shown me the ways that a capitalistic society can drive towards social responsibility. I have always cared about the environment; it was one of the main reasons I joined the U.S. Coast Guard. But I had no idea about the number of companies that have made sustainability a part of their mission. It’s not just because they think it’s a good marketing strategy either, but because being conscious about sustainability can yield shared value and profits.

Why did you choose this business school? The Scheller College of Business is located at one of the premier engineering and technology universities in the world. The resources Scheller has at its disposal, like the Atlanta Technology Development Center (a technology start-up incubator on campus) and the Georgia Tech Research Institute, means that Scheller can provide a top notch education while also exposing students to the latest problems facing the world and the latest solutions being developed to address them. Scheller is unmatched in its academic prestige and business exposure due in part to its location in Atlanta, the economic hub of the southeastern United States. I knew that this was the College that had the most access to understanding the problems facing the Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Atlanta, and I knew I wanted to be a part of that.

What did you enjoy most about business school? The community at Scheller. When I first visited the school, I noticed something unique about the student body. Not only were there students from around the world, from every different background imaginable, and with tremendous intelligence, but by the time they were second-year students, they had become family.W It’s the community at Scheller that makes you dependent on your classmates to help you get your dream job, or to pass the Strategy exam that is 60% of your grade. But then after it all, you can still have a beer with them at Cypress Street Pint & Plate every Thursday night or go to a surprise baby shower for the wife of one of your classmates. The people who make up Scheller are so friendly, motivated, and passionate about what they do, it has been a blessing to be a part of it.

What was the most surprising thing about business school? Learning about the importance of networking. Coming from an engineering and military background, I didn’t believe in networking. But I see now how crucial it is for not just the obvious reasons, like getting a job, but also for making deals that determine whether your company succeeds or fails.

What was the hardest part of business school? Managing my time. There are so many opportunities to get involved, to meet new people, and to learn about new ideas, events and companies. It’s easy to forget that you still have to do your homework and make sure you graduate.

What’s your best advice to an applicant to your school? Sign up for everything! This may be the last time where you have so many resources at your disposal. Take advantage of it! I signed up for the 2015 Vanderbilt Latin Business Challenge Case Competition, sponsored by Deloitte, where we contemplated ways to make a start-up food supplement company more successful in rural areas of Central America. I wasn’t really sure what a case competition entailed prior to the weekend event, but I went in with an open mind. It ended up being one of the most challenging and stressful activities I experienced while in school, but also one of the most rewarding. It was such a great experience to learn how I perform under pressure and in a group. Our team ended up taking 2nd place in the competition, something the whole team was very proud of.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I was put in charge of $7.4 Million of taxpayer money at the age of 24.”

“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would…be the Engineering Officer of a U.S. Coast Guard Cutter, responsible for the safe operation of all machinery onboard and ensuring the cutter is equipped to meet the demands of life at sea.”

Which executive or entrepreneur do you most admire? Elon Musk. I have his book sitting on my nightstand waiting to be completed. His passion for innovation, business foresight, and intelligence, continues to blow me away. Can you name any other entrepreneur who has changed the course of so many different industries, all at the same time?

What are your long-term professional goals? I am excited to return to the military after graduation. I want to continue to serve my country as a Coast Guard Officer, and I look forward to bringing what I’ve learned in school back to hopefully change the Coast Guard for the better. However, I’m not sure if I want to make the Coast Guard a career. If I decide to get out, then I would like to pursue a career in management, probably first getting my feet wet in consulting and then hopefully transitioning to senior management within a company.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I would like to thank my high school best friend, Matt, for his service to our country and for giving me the drive to get me where I am. I met Matt during sophomore year of high school. We had both just transferred to a new school, and neither of us knew anyone. We found ourselves sitting at the same table at lunch and started talking. Our friendship began as we discovered a mutual love of the outdoors. Throughout our final years in high school, we completed a number of adventures together, but what I am most thankful for is his encouragement to apply for the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. I was accepted and soon found myself headed to Connecticut, while he went off to the U.S. Air Force Academy. We were both very successful during our academy time as well as in our subsequent military careers. Matt became an elite Special Forces operator while I became a naval engineer and ship operator. We each stayed in touch despite our busy military careers and travel around the globe, always trying to one up the adventures and stories of the other and planning the next time we would meet. Tragically, in August of 2015, I was informed that Matt was killed in action while on a mission overseas. This was a truly devastating blow to me and our close friends and family, especially since I was supposed to see him in only a few weeks’ time. I am incredibly proud of Matt, who he was, and what he did to protect our freedom every day. I was honored to give the eulogy at his memorial and honored to meet those with whom he served. It has certainly been sad grieving, but I’ve tried to learn from him throughout this process as well. He was such an incredible soldier, leader, brother and friend and what I took away most from him was how much he gave of himself to others and how he lived life to the fullest every day. I would like to thank Matt for my success, for the example he set for me, for the friendship that pushed me to where I am today, and for the courage he gave me to propose to my fiancée. I have so much for which to thank him, but was never able to tell him.

Fun facts about yourself: I am passionate about adventure racing!

Favorite book:  The Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw. This book gave me so much respect for those who came before us, the sacrifices they made and what they did for our country. It made me realize just how much I take for granted, but also how thankful I am for the world we live in today.

Favorite movie: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. It never gets old.

Favorite musical performer: Jack Johnson and the Zac Brown Band.

Favorite television show: Suits. What I would give to have a professional relationship like that which Mike and Harvey have.

Favorite vacation spot: Currently it’s Australia, partly because it’s a beautiful country, but mostly because that’s where my fiancée lives!

Hobbies?Anything that gets me outside. Skiing, sailing, mountain climbing, mountain biking, Adventure Racing, travelling and photography, to name a few. To this day, I still feel like a kid and the world is my playground.

What made Trevor such an invaluable addition to the class of 2016?

“I have been Trevor’s career advisor since he entered the program in the fall of 2014 and have seen his true commitment to excellence in every task he undertakes.

Trevor Clark graduated from the United States Coast Guard Academy in 2010 with a degree in Civil Engineering, with Honors. He spent the next two years serving aboard a ship in the eastern Pacific Ocean, where he performed humanitarian missions and counter narcotic operations. After an exemplary two tours of duty, he was recognized as the sole Coast Guard Officer selected to pursue dual graduate degrees in Business Administration and Civil Engineering. Trevor is unique in that he is a U.S. Coast Guard Officer, attaining two graduate degrees in two years, and he is obligated to return to military service after graduation. While most of his peers in the MBA program are seeking corporate management careers after graduation, Trevor will return to military service with the intent to help improve government operations by leveraging his MBA and Civil Engineering degrees. Trevor has really taken this to heart, making every attempt in his two years to represent the military and look out for his fellow veterans.

Trevor has built strong friendships among his MBA peers through his involvement in the various social events and athletic activities, but with a particular focus on fellow veterans in the program. He helped to found the Scheller MBA Veterans club, which has brought military veterans together and harnessed their unique skill set to make a positive difference in the Scheller experience. He has also worked hard to become the best qualified Officer he can be by pursuing concentrations in Strategic Management and Operations Management and certificates in Management of Technology and International Management. He has also participated in competitions that challenge his business acumen, including the 2015 Vanderbilt Latin Business Challenge Case Competition, sponsored by Deloitte, at which his team achieved 2nd place. He has also sought out challenges that strengthen his engineering skills, like interning at Ahlberg Engineering Inc., a local geotechnical engineering firm. Finally, he has also sought out challenges that test BOTH his strategic foresight and management capabilities, like working with a local military medical device startup, ARMR Systems LLC, as a strategic advisor and manufacturing lead.

Although Trevor will return to the Coast Guard after earning his degrees, his impact on our program at Scheller will long be remembered.” — Barbara Lindquist, Corporate Relations Manager, Jones MBA Career Center, Scheller College of Business, Georgia Institute of Technology


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