Clark went on to earn a master's degree in operations research from the Naval Postgraduate School.
Developing and applying mathematical models, stats, analysis, simulations, analytical reasoning and common sense to the understanding and improvement of real-world operations segue neatly into a Master of Business Administration at Johns Hopkins Carey Business School. Clark also earned the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation and joined T. Rowe Price in 1992.
“I love the saying, 'Luck is where preparation meets opportunity,'” Clark says. “By differentiating yourself through advanced degrees and certifications, as well as honing certain skills such as public speaking, you are preparing for opportunity. By taking the initiative, being proactive and taking a chance, you can create more opportunities for success.”
Currently, Clark is vice president of T. Rowe Price Group Inc., and T. Rowe Price Associates Inc., and portfolio manager in the Asset Allocation Group. He manages T. Rowe Price Retirement Funds and oversees the College Savings Plan portfolios. He also is vice president of Personal Strategy Funds and an Investment Advisory Committee member of Spectrum Funds, as well as a member of the firm’s Asset Allocation Committee.
His proudest career accomplishment, he says, is developing asset allocation products based upon careful “Monte Carlo” modeling and working with a host of colleagues at T. Rowe Price to make them successful. “The modeling led us to design a different approach within the industry that has resulted in top-tier performance for our clients and various awards and recognition.”
So, how did a man from the combat arm of the military transition to Civvy Street? How have the legendary 14 leadership traits of a U.S. Marine (J.J. Did Tie Buckle) helped him become a good leader and a good follower in industry?
“I’m naturally inclined to quickly charge ahead versus taking my time once I believe I have the necessary information to make a decision, Clark admits. “As a Marine, I was constantly taught the maxim, ‘No decision (inaction) is worse than a wrong decision (action).’ But the immediacy of war rarely exists in a business environment. At T. Rowe Price, I’ve learned the necessity and value of working collaboratively with my colleagues, rather than around them, to achieve the best possible results for our clients.”
Working collaboratively around the world means total reliance on high-quality business communications. To borrow a phrase from Frank Barbetta, “high finance has always done high tech.” So, what's next for the financial community that has a reputation for being at the cutting edge of technology?
“It will increasingly become more technical,” Clark projects. “When I started at my company more than 20 years ago, there were a handful of investment professionals with math or engineering degrees. Today, we have a significant number of investment professionals with technical backgrounds involved in most aspects of our investment business.
“By definition, you should have the technical skills required for your role,” he notes. “That’s a given. But, it’s not enough just to be a worker bee and efficiently complete assigned tasks. At our firm, the people who really have an influence are those who can go above and beyond just technical aspects of a certain job. They are those who can innovate both to seize upon business opportunities and to solve problems. And, they are the ones who can collaborate very effectively with their colleagues so that learning and knowledge is transferred across the organization to the benefit of all ¯ particularly our clients.”
Clark advises students and young professionals to make improving communications skills a priority.
“As a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, I sometimes have the opportunity to mentor or give advice to students there,” he says. “My consistent advice for those young engineering/math degree majors is to take English, public speaking and history classes as electives as much as possible.”
Although he avoided such classes like the plague in his youth, because math was where he naturally tended to excel, “out in the real world, written and oral communications skills are as important¯if not more so¯than technical proficiency.”
Clark is one of 5,400 T. Rowe Price associates. He works with others in a dozen countries around the globe to helps clients achieve their long-term investment goals. As of June 30, 2013, the firm, which serves individuals, financial intermediaries and institutions, manages $614 billion in assets across a wide range of investment strategies.
“The beauty of the investment world is that there are so many different ways to approach investing and serve investors well,” Clark says. “My area of expertise—asset allocation—is growing quickly within the investment industry. In the last seven years, we’ve gone from one dedicated research and development investment professional with a technical background to a dedicated group of nine technically oriented professionals. There has been similar growth within other investment areas of the company.”
Other developments within the firm are corporate-sponsored women’s and ethnic-diversity roundtables to promote the placement and advancement of women and minorities, he says.
“One particular session many women felt was valuable at one of the women’s roundtable events was a speaker who provided insight into the differences between how men and women communicate and how understanding those differences could help their careers. “And, who knows, that could make a positive difference on the home front for some.”
His insight and perspective, he says, comes from his parents and kids. “As with most, my values and approach in life are based upon the teachings of my parents. Now that my kids are young adults, they provide me perspective and valuable insight that I can’t get from either my parents or people my own age.”
The acronym J.J. Did Tie Buckle encapsulates the leadership training of the U.S. Marine Corps. It’s used by Marines to help remember these 14 leadership traits: Justice, Judgment, Dependability, Initiative, Decisiveness, Tact, Integrity, Enthusiasm, Bearing,
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