Shawn Clark - Staff Spotlight

Shawn Clark Program Manager, Foundational Technology Services.

Shawn Clark, Program Manager, Foundational Technology Services, enjoys the many different challenges that come with working on the team responsible for upgrading Yale’s entire network. As a program manager in Foundational Technology Services, he leads a team of project managers charged with implementing the Next Generation Network (NGN) program. The project replaces Yale’s aging network infrastructure with new technology that will increase network security, speed, and nimbleness while supporting complex research and learning needs.

Shawn and his team remove old network equipment, building by building, and then install the new. After developing equipment implementation plans, the workflow includes several steps: identifying special equipment needs, communicating/coordinating with building occupants, and migrating and testing the new system. It is akin to a playbook adjusted per building. For Shawn, who had once considered a career in sports management, it’s a slightly different game plan with each building migration but immensely satisfying upon successful completion of a unit.

Born and raised in North Haven, Connecticut, Shawn has a B.S. in Sports Management from Lyndon State College (now Northern Vermont University) in Lyndonville, Vermont, and an M.B.A. from Quinnipiac University in Hamden. Playing sports throughout his life, he hoped to become a general manager or athletic director for a school or university. However, after a few years running programs at the Connecticut SportPlex in North Branford, he realized that wasn’t his path.

Somewhat by chance, he landed an entry-level IT job at Alexion Pharmaceuticals in Cheshire. He worked in help desk support when the company had approximately 200 employees. Fifteen years later, as Alexion grew, his career progressed, and when the company was bought out and moved operations to Boston, Shawn was an IT Project Manager. After a brief stint at the University of Connecticut in Storrs in IT, Shawn started working at Yale in 2019. He considers that early career path shift a blessing, enjoys working at Yale, loves sports, and coaches on weekends.

We caught up with him via Zoom and talked about the NGN project, lifelong friends, and the Dallas Cowboys.

What was your very first job?

During high school, I played football as a quarterback and linebacker. Me and a bunch of friends from the football team worked at a local Wendy’s. It was a great experience and fun. We did joke around quite a bit, but I worked all different roles from making fries to cashier.

Favorite childhood memory

Growing up, the home I lived in with my parents and brother was located on a quiet cul-de-sac. There were two other families with boys my same age on that same street. The three of us did everything together, including playing sports, hiking, riding our bikes, and hanging out at each other’s houses. We’ve been friends for 40 years! Today everyone’s married and has kids of their own, but we still find time to get together.

What do you enjoy most about working at Yale?

With the NGN project, I work with departments and colleagues from across the campus and within IT. The most challenging aspect of the project involves the variety of old and new buildings we have on campus. There is no standard, so you can’t use the same template for every location. Each building has different occupants and different equipment needs, which keeps it exciting and interesting.

Also, the campus has amazing artwork and architecture. I feel fortunate to be part of a prestigious university on a beautiful campus. Once COVID is over, I want to explore the campus more.

If you weren’t working at Yale, what would you be doing?

I’d be the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys (chuckles). But honestly, I enjoy working at Yale and in higher education. The NGN project takes me all over campus, and I interact with different departments and colleagues. My four years here have gone by quickly.

What are you watching on Netflix?

I’m watching the mini-series Cobra Kai. It’s based on “The Karate Kid” movies from the 1980s and 1990s and features many of the same characters as older adults. I’m watching it with my son; he’s ten. We are enjoying it.

Tell us a few fun facts about yourself.

When I was in college, I did an internship with the Dallas Cowboys as their equipment manager, and I also worked with their wide receiver coach. I even got to travel with the team for preseason games! It was neat to be with the team every day. I stayed in touch with the team and was able to watch a regular-season game from the sidelines at Giants Stadium.

I love to travel and have visited three continents and thirty-two states. I want to see all seven continents and all 50 states.