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Don't Waste the Chance

2016 Utah Region Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award Winner

In 1981, Carine Clark (BA ’87, MBA ’93) arrived in Utah speaking with a funny accent, thinking like a world traveler, and acting much differently than those who surrounded her in what she considered a “backwater” state. After spending most of her life in Germany, pursuing a college education in Utah didn’t feel very exotic or challenging. With some time, however, Clark turned the state of Utah into a home away from home. In fact, here is where she started and managed multiple tech companies, fought to bring two children into the world, beat an unbeatable cancer, and paved the way for diversity in a notoriously uniform industry.

“When I came to BYU,” recalls Clark, “I had a compact luggable computer the size of a sewing machine.” And that wasn’t the only thing that made her stand out. As a freshman she could type 130 words per minute, was familiar with multiple coding languages, and had a level of curiosity beyond compare. “Originally, I was going to be a librarian. I just had a thirst for information,” Clark relates. Once she started her academic career, she realized that the tech industry, with its fast-moving parts and constant innovation, was a perfect fit.

Clark’s professional and personal philosophy can be characterized by one basic assessment: “There has to be a better way to do that.” Whether it’s skipping wait time for valet service at a busy hotel or coming up with new marketing strategies, Clark always searches for a faster, more efficient way to overcome obstacles. As she continues to climb the ladder of Utah’s tech industry, Clark is not unaware of the lack of diversity that surrounds her. “In most of the meetings, it’s me and 20 dudes, me and ten dudes, me and five dudes,” she laughs. But her unique position doesn’t leave her bitter or resentful, it just motivates her to speak up, to challenge ideas, and to be heard. She “look[s] for chances to come to BYU” and speak to young professionals, especially women.

In 2009, while working as Senior Vice President of Symantec, Clark received the Women Tech Leadership Excellence Award. But she didn’t stop there. In 2016, as president and CEO of MaritzCX, she won the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award for the Utah region. But even with ongoing professional success, Clark admits that she still feels uncertainty when facing a new challenge or problem to be solved. How does she move forward? “The first thing I do when I doubt myself is feel the anxiety. I feel the voice in my brain that says I’m not good enough. Then I decide that voice is not me, but some non-fan who wants to keep me from growing. So I push past it.”

Early in her marriage, when doctors definitively told Clark that she’d never have children, she immediately thought: “Never is an opinion, not a fact. Right?” It took her 22 years to bring two boys into the world and, although they are eight years apart and the journey was difficult, she never gave up. In 2012, doctors came again, delivering a “horrible, horrible diagnosis.” Clark was shocked to discover that she had both cancer of the appendix and ovarian cancer—and only a 20% chance of survival. Clark relates her thought process at the time: “I have no cancer in my family. I’ve never taken anything stronger than Motrin in my life. I gave birth to two kids with no drugs. I don’t even drink caffeine.” She continues, “I was at the top of my career, the chief marketing officer. I’d worked so hard to get these two boys here. It would be a shame to die after all that.”

Wasting no time, she assembled a team of healthcare professionals to ensure that she would be part of the surviving 20%. Then she “attacked it” with everything she had. She used her business expertise to negotiate her participation in a drug trial, as well as to research treatment plans. She admits, “Everything I learned from my MBA I used to beat my cancer.” She astounded doctors when she did, in fact, beat the diseases without even losing her hair in the process.

Clark believes that the Lord has given her specific challenges to keep her moving forward. Even after the fight of her life, Clark is still confident that “[she is] the most blessed human on the planet,” not despite her trials, but because of them. She says, “We can learn lessons from these horrible things that happen to us, if we don’t waste the chance.”

Full Name: Carine Strom Clark
Grad Year: BA 1987 MBA 1993
College: Business
Major: Business Management
Post date: January 15, 2020
Author: Avery Dustin