A childhood fascination has led Cameron Clark into a rewarding career.
What’s your story?
As a kid, I loved math and science and had a deep fascination with the natural world, often immersing myself in relevant television/cable shows. My family’s summer vacations often placed me in airplane window seats where I’d watch the flaps and ailerons for hours. One day, I stumbled upon an engineering pamphlet, sparking my interest in Aerospace Engineering and plane design. After graduate school, I joined a large aerospace company but in their satellite division. This shifted my focus towards satellites and space. 16 years later, I continue to thrive in the space industry, and I’m still just as curious.
What excites you most about your industry?
The Aerospace Industry is ever evolving due to new technology, more efficient computing, new applications and/or customer needs. The stakes of getting to space are extremely high which often results in a global spotlight being placed on industry participants. Startups are entering the industry with new ideas and technology and are challenging the status quo. Government and Industry collaboration is happening in an unprecedented way. These are very exciting times!
What drives you in your career to push beyond what other people consider normal?
Growing up, I lacked engineering role models, and the educational system in my community often discouraged my dreams. College didn’t provide much support either, as I failed twice before graduating from a more nurturing institution back home. These experiences left me with a determined spirit and a chip on my shoulder. I aspire to inspire others, especially those who share my background, to see the possibilities through my journey.
What have been the most useful skills you have learnt and applied in your journey?
The key skills crucial to my journey are communication, active listening, and collaboration. Success in business hinges on effectively conveying desires, needs, and issues while comprehending those of your colleagues. Alignment with business partners or teammates is vital. Collaboration, both in small and significant tasks, is paramount. Remarkable teams and partnerships excel in these aspects. This is evident in professional sports dynasties, showcasing the significance of these skills.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
It was more of a statement than advice. Early in my career, I was working alongside a senior engineer who was nearing retirement. Out of nowhere, he said to me, “Do you know the difference between you and those other (i.e., senior) guys? The only difference is experience.” At that moment, any sense of impostor syndrome I had went away. I think about that every time I’m about to attempt something new and/or big.
Who inspires you?
My family inspires me. Both of my parents were born into impoverished families. They were the first to obtain college degrees and my father was the first to own a home. When I was a teenager, my father said it was my responsibility to elevate our family. He probably didn’t realize the flame that lit in me. Now that I have a family of my own, I’m driven by being able to open their minds to a world that most people can only imagine.
What have you learnt recently that blew you away?
Recently, I discovered a surprising fact: strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries don’t meet the biological definition of berries. Instead, bananas, pumpkins, avocados, and cucumbers qualify as true berries. The term “berry” holds a botanical, not common English, meaning. True berries contain seeds and pulp developing from a flower’s ovary. Fruit pericarp consists of three layers: the edible exocarp, the commonly consumed mesocarp, and the innermost endocarp surrounding the seeds. Berries typically feature thin endocarps and fleshy pericarps, though exceptions like watermelons and citrus fruits exist. I love such random facts; they may not often matter but can unexpectedly spark inspiration/ curiosity.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I’ve been asked this once before. After thinking about it, my answer remains the same. I wouldn’t do anything differently. I’ve learned from every experience I’ve had whether it was positive/negative. I believe…As long as you perceive everything as a learning experience which requires that you remain open to feedback, there isn’t much you’ll regret. With that mindset, you’ll continue to evolve as a person for the better.
How do you unwind?
With a glass of milk and a chocolate chip cookie in my bed watching Netflix.
What is a major mindset change, belief shift or ‘ah ha’ moment that you’ve experienced in relation to your career?
This is a recent one for me…I used to think I needed to climb the corporate ladder and obtain a coveted title in order to be “successful”. Now I realize that I just need to do what I’m good at and what I’m interested in, in an organization whose values align with mine. Once you achieve that, the rest will sort itself out.
Everyone in business should read this book:
“Good to Great” by James C. Collins is a must-read for people in business because it offers a data-backed, timeless framework for achieving business excellence. It provides actionable insights into leadership, strategy, and organizational culture that can help businesses not only succeed but thrive in the long run.
Shameless plug for your business or career:
Engineering is not just a great career decision. Studying engineering enables you to understand the physical world around you and/or above you as is the case with Aerospace Engineering. Being able to understand and figure out how things work grounds you. A grounded person is not easily shaken. I’m not implying that this is true of all engineers but, it can be true for you if you allow it.
How can people connect with you?
Message me via LinkedIn.
Social Media Links?
This interview is part of the CallumConnects series.