As the valedictorian of his high school class, Troy Clarke ‘78 had a lot of options when deciding on colleges.
Clarke, who grew up in Waterford Township, Michigan, had filled out an application for Kettering University (then GMI) in the counselor’s office and was accepted academically, but wasn’t fully sold until a visit to the Pontiac Motor Division facility.
“I had reservations at first, but then I visited the factory,” Clarke said. “It was approximately a full square mile under one roof, with about 20,000 people working. I’d never seen anything like it. The complexity of what they were doing and the technology was fascinating, but there was also a great sense of community that was evident. I was offered a sponsorship (to attend Kettering/GMI) and I felt like it was the right place for me.”
Troy Clarke '78
The decision immediately proved to be sound, as Clarke notes that the mix between getting immediate, real-world professional experience as well as being challenged by the curriculum in the classroom setting proved to be valuable.
“It was an ideal fit for me,” Clarke said. “The program was intense, but it was worth it. I had friends at other colleges who were amazed at what I was getting the chance to learn and work on. It was challenging, but also a very supportive, environment and it always felt like the right fit.
Clarke was a co-op employee at Pontiac and then worked there for 10 years after graduating, holding several engineering and manufacturing roles of increasing responsibility. He earned a master's degree in business administration from the University of Michigan in 1982.
“The GMI name was well-known when I got to grad school,” Clarke said. “Grad school was competitive, but I never felt at a disadvantage or behind, thanks to the diverse experience that I had at Kettering.”
Clarke, who is now the CEO of Navistar and has had a distinguished career in the automotive industry starting with his education at Kettering, will receive the 2014 Kettering University Distinguished Alumnus Award, which recognizes exceptional career achievement in a professional field. The award will be presented at the annual Alumni Awards Dinner and Ceremony on Oct. 9.
Since graduating, Clarke has stayed connected to campus. His son, Tyler Clarke, is also a graduate.
“My son went to Kettering, and he kind of re-introduced me to the school,” Clarke said. “It was enjoyable to see him thrive in that environment, and also to get re-acquainted with the alumni who are very involved there. It’s also been enjoyable to see the amazing changes happening there. I really like the vision.”
Clarke assumed the role of Navistar CEO in April of 2013, after serving as chief operating officer since August 2012. As COO, Clarke was accountable for all Navistar operations in North America and globally. He assumed this role shortly after being named president, Truck and Engine, in July 2012. Clarke joined the company in December 2010 as president of Navistar Asia Pacific, where he was responsible for leading the company’s growth initiatives in the region. He came to Navistar after a distinguished 35-year career at General Motors.
At General Motors, Clarke most recently served as president of GM North America and GM group vice president. Preceding that role, he spent two years as the president of GM Asia Pacific and GM group vice president. Clarke also held the role of GM group vice president of Manufacturing and Labor Relations, where he was responsible for North America vehicle manufacturing, vehicle operations, the metal fabricating division, and labor relations. Over the course of his career with GM, he held several additional leadership roles, including president and managing director of GM de Mexico and director of Manufacturing for GM de Mexico. Clarke is a member of the board of directors of Fuel Systems Solutions.
“A lot of great people went to Kettering University,” Clarke said. “I couldn’t ask for a better group of well-educated and prepared individuals to be connected to. I’m humbled to be a part of the Kettering/GMI legacy.”