Changing of the Guard

Photo Credit: Janet Rogers, Strategic Marketing & Communications

Photo Credit: Janet Rogers, Strategic Marketing & Communications

Cary Clark Officially Passes Enactus Torch

In 2005, the Bloch School of Management hired Cary Clark to assume additional duties and assist with the revitalization of the Students in Free Enterprise program.

It needed help. The University of Missouri-Kansas City chapter of the organization was down to one active student – Robin Lewis.

A lot has changed in 10 years, and more is to come.

Renamed Enactus in 2012, this international student organization has teams at 1,600 universities in 36 countries that connect student, academic and business leaders through entrepreneurial-based projects. Enactus empowers people to transform opportunities into real, sustainable progress for themselves and their communities. It is funded by 500 corporations that are interested in hiring graduates with Enactus experience.

Most of the students who previously participated in the organization at UMKC were business students in their junior and senior years. Yet, more students were needed to grow the program. And, they needed more students who would be around for a while.

In order to accomplish the increase, they opened up the program to all eligible Bloch students, as well as interested students in all academic units at UMKC. The first dean to respond was Kevin Truman, School of Computing and Engineering. Truman and SCE students still plan an active role in Enactus. Today’s team consists of students from nine of UMKC’s 13 academic units.

“At the end of the second year, our student count was up to 15, and we entered our first regional competition, scoring third place.” said Clark, Bloch Sam Walton Fellow. “By the end of that year, we had reached 35 members. And, believe it or not, in 2014, we had 101 members.”

That was a large group even for this ambitious organization.

“We capped it at 70,” said Benjamin Williams, assistant director of the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, instructor in the Global Entrepreneurship department and the new Enactus adviser. “That is a much more manageable number of students, and it allows us to maintain the quality of the organization.”

UMKC Enactus is made up of college students who take what they are learning in the classroom, apply this knowledge to community projects and then compete. The group has taken five trips to China to teach American Business Practices and will return in Fall 2015. The students have received six first place regional competition trophies; were named the 2012 Chicago Regional All Star Team; and advanced to the semi-finals in the 2014 national competition.

Williams, who served as co-advisor, and Andy Burkemper, PhD student and Entrepreneurship instructor, worked with Clark the last year to prepare for this transition – from Clark to Williams. They had the much-needed time to make the switch, thanks to the insight of Dave Donnelly, dean of the Bloch School.

“Cary has done a wonderful job growing Enactus over the last 10 years,” Donnelly said. “We felt it was imperative to have plenty of time to transition, as Cary had a wealth of insight to pass on to his successors. We’re certain with his guidance over the past year, Ben will continue the organization’s trend of excellence.”

Enactus engages students who exhibit a desire to excel, but lack experience or the opportunity to shine.

“We help them believe in themselves and show them how truly capable they are,” said Clark. “Once they have participated in the organization for a while, we encourage them to robustly demonstrate their newly-discovered talent. Most importantly, we let them know that we care about them and their success,” said Clark.

“There were a lot of things that I needed to learn from Cary – like the value of the community network he built,” said Williams. “It needs to stay in place as does the philosophy on which Enactus was founded. Cary stressed the need to establish and maintain individual relationships with the students. This year of planning and working together was extremely beneficial.”

Clark shared some of the benefits he received during the 10 years he served as advisor.

“I’ve learned more from the students than they have from me. I’ve tried to determine what they needed most, showed them understanding and treated them as individuals,” said Clark. “It has paid off in opportunities to witness their growth and independence; in establishing wonderful personal relationships with these extraordinary and gifted students; and in working with them in competitions. I have been challenged to do more while I challenged them in the same way,” said Clark.

Williams said Clark has been a gift to the students and to Enactus.

“In my short time here, I have seen the benefits gained by the students – their public speaking skills and the confidence they exhibit, which has resulted in huge personal growth and new job offers for these gifted students.”

“This is a pipeline to leadership and management positions in the city and internationally,” said Williams.

Williams was working in the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation when he learned about the organization. When Clark decided to retire, Williams was a natural fit.

What’s next? The goal is to continue to improve the organization each year. This year will begin with a flat executive board, totaling seven people. They will have shared duties and a transparent management-by-committee style.

“Enactus is the most beneficial program for students,” said Clark. “It incorporates classroom education with life lessons and networking – personal and professional. And, it presents wonderful career and international opportunities to students who are involved,” completed Clark.

While the Bloch School is excited to see what the future holds for this organization, they’re thankful for the strides it made under Clark’s leadership.

“We’re so grateful for Cary’s service,” Donnelly said. “His passion and dedication has made Enactus what it is today.”

The torch officially passed from Cary Clark to Benjamin Williams on July 15.

|Wandra Brooks Green, Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications

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