By Lea Hart, North Carolina State University
Lynn Clark (Alpha Omega–North Carolina State ’11) grew up in a family full of ties to North Carolina State University.
His father, uncle and cousin all attended; and later, Lynn and his brother did as well.
His father, Jimmy Clark (Alpha Omega–North Carolina State ’13), is a long-time supporter, advocate and benefactor to NC State, who served as chairman of NC State’s Board of Trustees among many other distinctive roles at the university, and now serves on the UNC System Board of Governors. Jimmy and Lynn’s mother, Vickie, are also co-chairs of the Campaign for NC State.
“My dad used to take me to campus when I was little,” Lynn Clark recalled. “I always knew where I wanted to go, and it was a terrific decision.”
Lynn received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration Summa Cum Laude from the Poole College of Management in 2012, with minors in political science and agribusiness management. He immediately jumped back in and went on to receive his Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Poole in 2014.
From there, Lynn went someplace else with deep family ties: Guy M. Turner, Inc. in Greensboro, NC, an industry leader and the largest privately-owned crane, rigging, and heavy haul company in North America. It’s the family business, where Lynn has served in various roles and now as vice president, and Jimmy is president and owner.
“I use my education every day in some aspect,” Lynn said. “It has definitely paid for itself.”
Nine years later, Lynn can reflect on so many positives from his experiences within Poole.
“I liked that you are admitted directly into a college at NC State,” he said. “I was really excited that I could go ahead and jump into these business courses.”
From there, the quality of the faculty and the curriculum were evident and it was an easy decision to continue on to pursue his MBA within Poole as well, he said.
Lynn’s experience influenced the family’s decision early in NC State’s Think and Do the Extraordinary Campaign to commit to funding a professorship within Poole College, Lynn said. That professorship, named in Lynn’s honor, was recently awarded for the first time. Jeffrey Pollack was named the Lynn T. Clark II Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship.
“I really wanted a professorship in an area that was valuable to my experience at Poole,” Lynn said. “I thought the entrepreneurship curriculum and professors were fantastic.”
“We have a really strong entrepreneurship program at NC State and I think it can only get better.”
Lynn noted the importance of professorships for the individual and the college, providing professors incentive to stay with the college, while also providing funds for research and extra experiences they might not otherwise have.
“Faculty are the lifeblood of the college in a way,” Lynn said. “When you have excellent faculty who have a good relationship with students, it makes for an atmosphere where students want to learn.”
“Faculty had a profound impact on me, and I hope the same happens to other students.”
Indeed those interactions with faculty, combined with so many other experiences within Poole and at NC State, continue to influence Lynn Clark today.
He was never told he had to join the family business, but Lynn knew he wanted to do so.
“I could’ve gone and worked on Wall Street or Capitol Hill,, but I decided that, due to my father’s age – he’s a bit older than the average parent – if I was going to learn our business, which is very technical and specialized, I didn’t have time to wait around, I had to jump in,” he said. “I think that’s really paid off.”
Calling himself a person who “likes to get things done,” Lynn said NC State’s ‘Think and Do’ mentality fit him perfectly.
“Every day when I wake up, I’m thinking about what I need to get done,” he said. “Our company believes that, if we say we’re going to get it done, we’re going to get it done – we have the tools, the people and the resources.”
The education he received within Poole is very applicable in that regard, Lynn said. Students are presented with a problem or issue, and taught how to deal with it and solve it.
Another impactful experience for Lynn was that of studying abroad. He took full advantage of those programs at NC State, traveling to 10 different locations including some in Asia and Europe. While it stemmed from a love of traveling and learning about different cultures, today Lynn says he regularly uses those experiences in working with people in anywhere from five to 15 countries daily while at work.
“Having that study abroad experience helps you to relate to people, understand international business, and how to get done what they need to get done,” he said.
He hasn’t stopped traveling, visiting four continents and more than 20 countries so far. Those global experiences also make it evident that Poole College is headed in the right direction, Lynn said.
“I’m just really optimistic about where the college is going,” he said. “NC State’s business school focuses on the new emerging areas of business and technology, and I think that’s really the future of business.”
As he and his family continue to invest in that future at Poole College, Lynn encourages others to do the same not just for the future of the college, but for the future of North Carolina.
“It’s really an investment in North Carolina and the future workforce when you give back to Poole College,” he said. “What makes NC State so special is that so many of the students are from the state, and so many stay in North Carolina when they graduate.”