In his own words: CCNN President Nate Clark
Name/title: Nate Clark/President and Chief Executive Officer, Career College of Northern Nevada
Number of years in this job: Since July of 2012
Years in this profession: Since 1987
Education: I have an associate’s degree from Watterson College in Louisville, Kent.
Last book read: “Don’t Cross Your Eyes, They’ll Get Stuck That Way” by Dr. Aaron Carroll and Dr. Rachel Vreeman
Favorite flick: I think my favorite that I’ve seen recently was “Instructions Not Included”
What’s on your iPod: I don’t have an iPod, my music is on my Android phone. It’s Classic Rock.
Spouse, kids or pets: I just got married three weeks ago, but I have been with my wife, Maria, for three years. We have a 4-year-old grandchild, a 22-year old, a 15-year old and a 12-year old. We have a Lab and a Brittany Spaniel.
Northern Nevada Business Weekly: Tell us about Career College of Northern Nevada and the duties of your position as its president and CEO.
Nate Clark: We focus on training quickly for career education. The careers we train for are based on the current economy, so they change over time. A good example is that we taught paralegals in the past, but during the recession it got to a point where the government stopped hiring, and they were the main employer for our paralegals. When that happened the market became saturated, so we eliminated that program. Today we are focused on allied health and the trades: HVAC, welding, electronic and industrial technology.
I own the school. My job is day-to-day management and regulatory affairs and accreditation.
NNBW: How did you get into this profession?
Clark: The school was founded in 1985 by Apollo Group. It was sold to Career Comm, who my father was working for and he ended up buying the school from that company in November of 1989. That’s when it became Career College of Northern Nevada. My father owned the school up until he fully retired in July of 2012. I came out in April of 1986 to help my father with some projects and to get through the change of ownership process. In my spare time I was helping the financial aid director with filing and paperwork, and my father caught me in there one day helping and made me the financial aid officer. It was the first business position I had with the school.
NNBW: What do you like most about working in education?
Clark: There are two things, and they are equally important. One is running into my graduates when I go out into the community. I have four of my graduates working at my doctor’s office. My lawyer had one of my graduates running his office. The other thing is the graduation ceremonies and watching the families celebrate. Those are the two things that really drive me.
NNBW: What are the main challenges you face in guiding the college toward success not only today but in years to come?
Clark: Regulatory environments are the main challenge today. The U.S. government and state attorneys general across the country are investigating trade schools. There is a reputation in this industry created by some colleges that have sort of “predatory” enrollment practices. I pride myself on the fact that we are the exact opposite of that. We only accept students who we believe will benefit from the education, go to work and represent our college well. This is a small community, and we are a single-campus operation. The other biggest challenges are finding the careers to train for, finding funding for tuition and convincing the government that students are benefitting from this education.
NNBW: What was your first job?
Clark: Washing dishes in a restaurant in Minneapolis. I lasted exactly one night.
NNBW: Is this the career you had envisioned for yourself?
Clark: No it isn’t. I landed in this thing by accident. I had a construction background and had done a lot of work as a mechanic, drywaller, electrician, framer and plumber. But I did attend business school in Kentucky, and I wanted to get out of the manual trades. I had no idea I would have landed in a career college; the thought had never crossed my mind.
NNBW: What did you dream of becoming when you were a kid?
Clark: I wanted to do something with computers and electronics. My father was teaching electronics when I was growing up, and he would bring home electronic kits and computer systems. I had access to computers that none of my friends had because of my father’s job. That was my dream because it was what I was exposed to.
NNBW: If you had enough money to retire right now, would you? Why or why not?
Clark: I don’t think I am ready to retire. I think I can still make a difference in people’s lives. I still have the energy, and I love my job.
NNBW: What’s the last concert or sporting event you attended?
Clark: Three Dog Night in Las Vegas. It brought back some memories.
NNBW: What’s your idea of the perfect vacation?
Clark: I just came back from my honeymoon in Playa del Carmen, and it was the best vacation I have ever had. I can’t wait to go back.
NNBW: Why did you choose a career in northern Nevada? What do you like most about working/living here?
Clark: My intentions were to come out here and spend a month helping my dad and go back to Kentucky, but I never flew home. I fell in love with Reno and the school business, and it just stuck. I like knowing people because it is such a tight community. This area, you get to know people. I have been here 28 years, and I feel like I am a part of this community.
To suggest a candidate for NNBW’s weekly question and answer column, look at our editorial calendar (http://apps.nnbw.com/utils/pdfs/9683736R.pdf) and contact reporter Rob Sabo at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 775-850-2146.
Heather Ashbridge, who started with Nevada State Development Corporation in 2008, previously served in several roles with the organization, including assistant vice president and loan officer. She is based in NSDC’s Reno office.