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Lack of Experience Can Be Overcome, Says Clark

May 5, 2000

"You all lack experience so how do you compensate for that?" Ken Clark asked students in the Oklahoma Baptist University Paul Dickinson School of Business Forum, April 28.

Clark, president and chief executive officer of Midland Mortgage Co., and executive vice president of MidFirst Bank, described the hierarchy of skills he found necessary in his career in a discussion entitled, "Lack of Experience: A Shorter Term Problem than You Think."

"The type of thinking you have to use after graduation is increasingly complex," he told students. "You have to start thinking much more independently than in an academic setting."

Clark described the hierarchy process beginning with technical skills as the basis. Built on those skills are thinking skills and built on those skills are execution skills. Entrepreneurial skills topped off the hierarchy.

Clark narrowed his discussion to thinking skills, analytical, critical and strategic.

"How do you convert your academic background to thinking skills?" he asked.

"Relying on raw intelligence can be your undoing," Clark said. "The point isn't to just be good at it, but to be consistent, very deliberate."

Clark also discussed skills that successful organizations seek to develop when graduates begin their first job - such as identifying key challenges facing the organization.

"Be discriminating in accepting that information from others," he said. "Consistently look for potential problems and potential opportunities. Question the obvious. Challenge group opinion."

Midland Mortgage Co. is the 36th largest mortgage loan servicer in the United States, servicing more than 350,000 residential mortgage loans totaling $15,000,000 in principal. MidFirst Bank is Oklahoma's second largest bank, having more than $5.6 billion in assets and $335 million in total capital.

MidFirst is consistently ranked as one of Oklahoma's top performing financial institutions by leading industry analysts.

In his current capacities, Clark is responsible for more than 70 percent of the combined asset base of the two firms and has been responsible for the valuation, acquisition and management of more than $36 billion of mortgage servicing rights and $7 billion of mortgage-related assets.

Clark began his career with Midland and MidFirst in 1985. He was named vice president for servicing acquisition in 1988 and senior vice president in 1992. In 1993, Clark assumed responsibility for all operational and financial components of the mortgage banking divisions of MidFirst Bank and Midland Mortgage Co.

Clark was named president and CEO of Midland Mortgage Co. in 1995 and executive vice president of MidFirst Bank in 1998.

He earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from Oklahoma Baptist University in 1985 and is a certified public accountant. He is the son of Dr. and Mrs. Donald E. Clark. Dr. Clark is associate professor of music at Oklahoma Baptist University.