LEADERSHIP HALL OF FAME PROFILE: WOMEN LEADERSHIP CHAMPION MARSHA CLARK
By: Sandy Frinton, PULSE Editor
Former EDS Executive Finds Calling from Corporate Career
Being an avid learner who was always willing to try something new, listen, solve problems and build strong relationships has served Marsha Clark well in both her careers as a woman in corporate leadership roles at Electronic Data Systems (EDS) and now as an executive coach and facilitator in her own company Marsha Clark & Associates.
Today, she’s taking her leadership and people skills and helping empower and inspire women to achieve to their full potentials as a consultant and trainer delivering leadership and executive development programs.
For her contributions to the industry and society, Clark was inducted into IAOP’s Leadership Hall of Fame at OWS21 by Atul Vashistha, COP, Founder, Neo Group and Supply Wisdom, Leadership Hall of Fame member and Vice-Chair of IAOP’s Strategic Advisory Board.
“In her career journey, Marsha has not only been a teacher but a mentor for many,” Vashistha said.
In her acceptance remarks, Clark spoke about the importance of building relationships based on trust and respect.
She also remarked on the need to be intentional and thoughtful in making strategic decisions. “We have to slow down to speed up,” she said.
Building a New Industry
An early-comer to the world of technology, Clark fell into this new field in the late 1970s. She was opening a Christmas account at her local bank when she heard a company named EDS was hiring in Dallas, Texas.
Clark says she “didn’t know how to write computer code but she could lead people.” Starting as a secretary, she was continuously given new opportunities and increasing responsibility as she listened, learned and repeatedly proved her abilities as a leader.
Clark fondly recalls those beginning days at EDS, founded by Ross Perot, who believed in rewarding people who worked hard and got things accomplished versus holding advanced educational degrees.
“It was an exciting time,” she says. “I loved being part of a place that was growing. We knew we were building a company but we didn’t know we were building an industry.”
During her EDS time, she working on 500 “transitions” of employees when outsourcing contracts were signed. She learned such valuable skills as change management, the importance of collaboration, and how to build trust and relationships.
In her last role at EDS, she served as an assistant to the Vice Chairman/Chief Operating Officer working in the areas of strategic alliances, performance management, and account operations improvement.
She oversaw the company’s Employee Development Department, including leadership, sales, and technical development, compensation, staffing, and global diversity functions.
Clark also served as President of EDS’ Health Care Unit, where she directed business operations, sales and marketing, and technical support for 40 clients around the world with responsibility for $400 million in revenue and over 2,000 employees.
Finding Her Passion
While Clark was only a handful of women in corporate leadership roles during her EDS career, she didn’t think much about leadership being different for men versus women. All voices, skills and abilities are needed at the table to bring the best results, she says.
It was after she left EDS that she found her calling. First, she earned her Masters of Science in Organization Development from American University in Washington, D.C. Then, she participated in a transformative leadership workshop in Massachusetts where for the first time she saw women working together across all levels to achieve powerful results.
“The light bulbs popped and I decided I wanted to focus on women leadership and support women to bring their true authentic selves to the table,” she says. “I found my calling.”
She founded her own consulting firm, Marsha Clark and Associates, in 2000 and since then has had the great pleasure of teaching thousands of women from over 50 countries across multiple industries.
“Leadership is a lifetime pursuit,” Clark says. “It’s a mindset. It’s not a job title or a box on an organizational chart. It’s the way we choose to live our lives personally and professionally and that there is consistency all the way through. We are not one person at work and one person at home.”
Being recognized as one of now five women inducted into the Leadership Hall of Fame is an amazing honor that Clark never expected or saw coming.
“When I think of this award, I never dreamed that I would be recognized for going to work every day and doing the best job I can do,” she says. “I love that there is this recognition of how important leadership is. To be recognized for living my life purpose is, wow, it means the world to me.”
For More: View Marsha Clark's Foundational Elements on YouTube.
At-a-Glance: Marsha Clark
Current Role: Founder of Marsha Clark and Associates, a training and consulting firm delivering leadership development, change management, strategic planning, performance management, team development, and executive coaching programs. Clark has delivered leadership development programs for women for more than 20 years.
Past Experience: Worked her way through the ranks at EDS during a 21-year career from secretary to a corporate officer.
Role Models: While she admires many, her current heroes are the women doing their best every day during this pandemic as mothers, educators, healthcare workers, first-responders and others who get up every day to fulfill missions larger than themselves.
Best Advice: Be your best self – be sincere, authentic and live your values.
Giving Back: Supports numerous non-profit organizations by serving on boards, providing pro-bono consulting services, volunteering, as well as financial support. Board memberships include Children’s Advocacy Center of Collin County, Empowering Women as Leaders, Journey of Hope, Novus Academy, Power & Systems, and SPARK! Her focus areas are women and girls.