Name: Fred Clark
Nickname: Rico – When we were young and trying to learn spanish, my Mom’s side of the family called me Frederico, and the ‘Rico’ just stuck.
Originated From: Houston, TX
Undergrad Institution: Morehouse College
Job Before Booth: Senior Financial Advisor at Shell Oil Company
Job After Booth: Associate Brand Manager at Coca Cola
okay…now for the good stuff:
Prior To Booth
I was born and raised in Houston, Texas!
My parents met while working at Continental Airlines (now United) in Houston,TX during the early 1980’s and later got married and had my sister and I. They always instilled in us the value of hard work, discipline, education, traveling and faith. My older sister, who is 4.5 years older than me, was always academically strong and pushed me to compete with her for the best report card. She always won, but the competition fueled my academic drive. Growing up, there was always a lack of diversity in my schools, which made me particularly uncomfortable when openly discussing certain topics in American History or English class. I really just wanted to be able to learn in an environment where I could be comfortable being myself and for once not being the ‘only’ in my classroom. Thus, I decided to spend my undergraduate years in Atlanta, GA at Morehouse College, one of the most prestigious HBCU’s (Historically Black College/University) in the country. Morehouse blessed me with a full scholarship and gave me the keys to an experience that would forever change my life.
Expectations at Morehouse were very high. I was amazed by the caliber of young men that I was now around. Morehouse is an all-male, private institution and we competed at just about everything. This environment continued to fuel my growth as my friends and I competed on who could form the best businesses or land the best internships. I started to explore my entrepreneurial interests and soon started my company, EGO Entertainment LLC, in May 2008. This company was an event marketing business that primarily focused on nightlife and entertainment. So, for years through undergrad, I was a student by day and a nightclub promoter by night. My parents were NOT thrilled!
I loved the nightlife scene in Atlanta and spent all of my non-school hours socializing and networking. Apparently, my college friends loved partying too because my business partner and I were able to turn our side business into a profitable venture. I even quit the job I had as a bank teller at a local branch to solely focus my attention on school and my business. I learned a lot about leadership leading a team of 30 interns who worked for me as street team members. We would teach our interns the business of nightclub promotions and then compensate them with the VIP experience at all of our events. We started to expand our events to other cities like: Houston, New York, Miami, DC, and Cancun.
While I’ve seen growth in the nightlife space, I am most proud of how we started to expand in other areas. In 2010, we launched the EGO Entertainment AAA (Academic Accomplishments and Achievements) Scholarship Award to provide $500 book scholarships to students at Morehouse College, Spelman College and Clark Atlanta University. To-date, we’ve given out 24 scholarships. We also planned ‘Party with a Purpose’ events that have supported organizations such as One Goal, SBP, Hurricane Relief efforts, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. (my frat!) and many others.
This experience originally piqued my interest in exploring marketing as a concentration. The people around me, especially mentors thought that I would be better served studying finance, so I took their advice and decided to forego a marketing career (at least temporarily).
After Morehouse I was ready to move back to Houston. In 2010, I took a job with Shell Oil Company as a Revenue Accountant for on-shore gas fields in South Texas. It was not a glamorous role, but it was something to cut your teeth with. I later found success in the manufacturing side of the business and later took jobs in California and Louisiana in Sr. Financial Advisor roles. I’d never lived outside of the South before, so the California move was the leap of faith that I needed to be comfortable in places away from my family.
I was pushed out of my comfort zone for the first time. Pretty quickly, I started hearing rumors that Shell was planning on selling the manufacturing site that I was working at. This made me nervous because when a site is sold, the employees usually go with the acquiring company, or get laid off. I reached out to management looking for transparency and was met with a vague response that I would be taken care of. In my mind, I was leery. Could I trust their words and would they really “take care of me”?
At that point, I started to make plans to take care of myself. This required an exit strategy and pursuing an MBA became the focal point of my plans. In the midst of studying for the GMAT, Shell finally came back and told me that it was time to leave California – SOON! I was ecstatic because I thought I would be returning back home to Houston, but I was quickly met with a curve ball. They chose to send me on a lateral assignment to Baton Rouge, Louisiana because of a spot that needed to be filled. I was in disbelief… Of all places, you want to send me where? That was the nail in the coffin for me. Operation B School was in full swing!
Shortly after I arrived in Baton Rouge, Shell announced that they were laying off 40% of the North American Finance staff. I had already received my acceptance letters to multiple business schools, so I was fine with that news. Each employee had to have a meeting with their manager to find out where they stood with the company. My manager pulled me into his office and said “Fred you have a job! Do you want to stay here or move back to Houston?”
If You Didn’t Have To Work What Would You Do:
Community Work & Travel the world
In 2015, I started “Pass the Bread”, an initiative to sponsor pre-cooked meals in the Houston area for families in need during the holiday season. To-date, we’ve sponsored meals for 213 families (alongside the Houston Area Urban League) and I would like to take the time to have that number grow exponentially.
I love flying and exploring! If I was not tied to a job, I would be in sky every week!
Do You Think That Aliens Exist?
Currently Reading / Listening to:
Jay Z Interviews on Investing and Career Growth
What do you think made you unique in the MBA application process?
My community work and the fact that I wrote my essays about nightclub promotions.
What App Needs To Be Made:
An app like a modern day lie detector that can read peoples emotions and mannerisms
Favorite Disney Movie:
The Lion King
What’s The Hardest Lesson You’ve Learned Thus Far?
Sometimes you can do everything right, but God has another plan for you.
Favorite Booth Memory:
Spring Break in Colombia. It was the first time that most of my class was able to let loose, not worry about recruiting and not be distracted by anything but having fun.
What Is Special About The Place You Grew Up?
There’s so much love about Houston. Houston is a very strong community. After Hurricane Harvey, seeing how the city pitched in to help each other was just amazing. Perfect strangers putting themselves in danger to pull people out of flooded water and houses shows the type of people that Houstonians are.
What Job Would You Be Terrible At :
Investment Banking – there’s no way I could work those hours.
What Age Do You Want To Live Until:
Whenever the good Lord calls me home is fine with me – but 100 would be nice.
Favorite Place To Eat In Chicago:
Howd you get your full time offer?
My first week at Chicago Booth, I decided to skip classes and drive to Detroit. The National Black MBA Conference was being held and I knew that Coca-Cola would be present at the career fair. I already had a pre-MBA offer with Amazon for their retail program, but I knew that I wanted to be a marketer at Coca-Cola. I waited in a 45 min line to speak with a current Sr. Brand Manager and he looked familiar. Ironically, he was also an alumnus of Morehouse and we had a great conversation. He ended up putting me on a list to be interviewed and I had two interviews with four Brand Directors over a two day period. The next week, I was extended an offer from Coca-Cola for the MBA Summer Internship program.
My internship was a great experience and I worked on the Diet Coke brand. I had a strategic project focused on expanding the brand to a younger demographic in a specific channel. Thankfully, I was extended a full-time offer at the end of the summer. After conversations with employees at all levels of the organization and seeing their love and passion for their brands, I know that I had to follow my gut and accept the offer. Right now, I am looking to move back to Atlanta and start as an Associate Brand Manager in August 2020 (if COVID-19 lets me be great).
My goal is to become an expert marketer, specifically focused in multicultural and sports/entertainment. I want to become the greatest to ever do it!
What could you give a 40-minute presentation on with absolutely no preparation?
The Benefits of an HBCU Education
If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
Houston – so I can be closer to family and friends.
What Fictional Place Do You Dream Of Going To?
What Is The Best Way That Someone Can Spend Their Time?
Showing love and improving yourself.
Love because as humans part of our purpose in life is to spread that love. In life at any certain point you’re either getting better or worse – by bettering yourself you’re continuously growing. Always looks for ways to improve.
What Do You Want To Do Before You Die?
Get married and have kids
What Do You Wish You Knew More About:
My family’s heritage
Tell me about your Study Abroad Experience:
I went to ESADE Business School winter quarter in Barcelona, Spain along with 43 other exchange students and I loved it!! Everyone came in with an open mindset and want to fully immerse themselves in our different cultures. We would pick a different culture and go to dinner together as a group to experience it together – those were my favorite nights. It was a great collective of people and we traveled a lot together. I went to 7 countries in 10 Weeks: Portugal, Spain, Netherlands, France, UK, Czechia, and Hungary.
Unfortunately COVID cut the program short. We were told that a student at ESADE had contracted the disease. It was a whirlwind – everything quickly shut down. I found out at 2am in the morning that the borders were being shut down. By 6 am I had packed up my entire apartment and was at the airport.
I can’t wait to get back to Barcelona. One thing that I can say is, to have new life-long friends that live around the world whether that be South Africa, Australia, Paris is a beautiful thing.
J.Cole, Chance the Rapper, Nipsey Hussle
What Location Is At The Top Of Your Travel Bucket List?
How Will The World Be Different Post COVID-19?
Companies will embrace remote and virtual work. People are going to be more health conscious and a lot more empathetic to one another.
What Is Worth Splurging On Everytime?
How Will You Make Your Life A “Good Life”?
If I’m able to help and be in service of others then my life will have been well worth it. A big part of making my life a good life will me continuing to mentor and bring young people under my wing to give them guidance.
What Lifestyle Changes Are You Trying To Make?
Exercise more (says the man that ran 100 miles last month). I want my body to be as strong and healthy as possible. Heart problems run through my family. My dad and sister both had heart failure and have since recovered. Last year my cousin died at 34 from heart failure. So I am incredibly attentive to my heart and am continuing to push myself to strengthen it as as much as possible to fight my pre-dispositions.
Also I’m trying to meditate more to build a more spiritual connection.
If Magic Was Real, Which Spell Would You Try First?
A spell that reveal peoples hidden talents
What Do You Think Makes A Good Friend – How Much Do You Live Up To Your Standards?
Honesty, loyalty and communication. I live up to them very well.
What Did You Want To Get Out Of B-School? Did you get it?
I wanted to expand my network and learn with/from those who I would ordinarily not be in contact with. The intelligence and experiences of the Chicago Booth community provide some of the best learning opportunities that I have ever experienced. This will truly help me in my career as I lead, follow and work in cross-functional groups.
I wanted to get a global experience and learn how people from other parts of the world conduct business and approach challenges. Between Booth’s large international community and my study abroad experience in Spain, I was able to fully appreciate other cultures and ways of thought.
I believe that I hit all of my goals in business school. I’ve utilized technology to make me super productive – I’m light years ahead of where I was pre b-school. Also, I was able to enhance my qualitative and quantitative skills in areas of marketing and strategy through the variety of classes I took.
Best Trip Of Your Life Thus Far:
Abu Dhabi and Dubai. I typically don’t travel with big groups of friends, but when we are able to get tickets for under $200 with the flight gitch a few years back, 15 of us got tickets. It was my first time in the Middle East and my first time having to truly adjust to a culture that was very different from America. I didn’t know the language, people were so nice. We went from the desert to the luxury of Dubai. The Sheikh Zayed in Abu Dhabi was the most beautiful structure that I’ve seen so far.
Who Do You Go Out Of Your Way To Be Nice To?
The elderly deserve the most respect. My grandmother always gets that + some from me. She is still lucid, smart as a whip and the matriarch of our family – so she will always get extra kindness and attention form me regardless of what is going on in my life.
What Really Makes You Angry?
Dishonesty. To me, being a liar is one of the worst things that you can be.
What Industry Do You Think Will Be Revolutionized Soon?
Education. COVID-19 is going to push the limits of where we can take education and make competitors in the space provide reasonably priced educational technology services.
Sour Gummy Worms
Start my own marketing consulting firm
Have a family of my own, with the wife and the kids
Have a great impact in the Houston Community especially for young boys by using my resources to uplift our communities.
What Would Your Last Meal Be?
8 oz Filet Mignon – Oscar style with the crab meat on top, loaded mashed potatoes with an old fashioned on the side.
How Would You Describe Your Booth Experience:
Amazing. My booth experience was what I needed. From an academic stand point I was able to stretch myself. From a strategy and marketing stand point I was able to build foundational levels of knowledge. I’ve made a lot of relationships and friendships that I hope continue to grow paired alongside such an appreciation for so many different cultures. This experience was one that will be another building block that will shape the way that I approach people and live moving forward.