Collaboration is Key for Yvette Hollingsworth Clark ’94 MBA
The night the federal CARES Act was signed into law on March 27, 2020, 60 people from financial institutions and fintech companies gathered virtually for a TechSprint to offer technology solutions to help small businesses navigate the Paycheck Protection Program.
“It was a good opportunity to share thoughts and ideas for a very specific use case that was top of mind at the time,” says Yvette Hollingsworth Clark ’94 MBA and a former member of the Whitman School of Management Advisory Council, who participated. “Solutions were proposed to help industry leaders think differently on how technology can be used during moments of immediate need.”
TechSprints, sometimes called hackathons, are two-day problem-solving sessions that facilitate innovation, collaboration and creative solutions for difficult problems. The Alliance for Innovative Regulation (AIR) gathered the group in March to create scalable solutions for onboarding, underwriting and disbursing Small Business Administration funds under the Paycheck Protection Program. The prototypes were forwarded to the SBA March 29.
As the former executive vice president and regulatory innovation officer within Wells Fargo's Innovation Group and current AIR Advisory Council member, Hollingsworth Clark is active in industry forums such as TechSprints to keep current on developments in the regulatory technology (RegTech) and innovation fields. Having concentrated in financial institutions and markets in her graduate studies, she’s spent her career in the regulatory community.
In her previous role as regulatory innovation officer at Wells Fargo, Clark was part of the Innovation Group, which fosters growth of big ideas that influence business models, processes and programs to meet evolving customer needs at the company. The group is charged with developing, integrating and executing a risk model that provides a unified view of the digital risk environment by partnering with other enterprise risk management teams to help the company approach risk differently during early-stage product development.
Clark joined Wells Fargo in 2012 as chief compliance officer and head of regulatory compliance risk management, having spent four years at Barclays Corporate and Investment Bank as the managing director and global head of operations compliance and financial crimes compliance and risk management, as well as nearly 10 years as a regulator with the Federal Reserve System.
I fundamentally believe that efforts to digitize law, regulations and the risk management discipline will lead to transformative practices and efficiencies in businesses and government.”
Yvette Hollingsworth Clark ’94 MBA
The introduction of RegTech to help digitize risk management practices is “a peak in my career because it’s relatively new and I’m thrilled to be recognized as an industry expert in this emerging field,” says Clark. “I fundamentally believe that efforts to digitize law, regulations and the risk management discipline will lead to transformative practices and efficiencies in businesses and government.”
In addition to attending RegTech events and interacting with regulators and standard-setting bodies on RegTech matters, Clark is co-author of articles in a Risk & Compliance Journal that Deloitte is sponsoring on wsj.com.
Human intervention is vital in digital ethics, she says, since “ethical behavior should be integrated and maintained during the design stage of an innovation and continuously throughout the life of the solution.”
Clark says her time at Whitman taught her two important lessons: the power of collaboration and the power of relationships. She recalls being assigned to a group of students with different skill sets who worked together to complete the class task.
“Working collaboratively, across multiple subject matter experts, was a core discipline of Whitman, and it remains my preferred approach to work today,” she says.
Whitman has always been “a safe and helpful community for me,” and that culture motivated her to become involved as a Whitman Advisory Council member, an opportunity that expanded her professional network and taught her how the school is governed to meet its students’ needs. Building off that experience and time on nonprofit boards has prepared her to serve on a public board, she says.
Clark has been a board member of INROADS, which develops and places talented minority youth in business and industry and prepares them for corporate and community leadership, and of the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco.
At Whitman, she also learned to ask for help when she needed it.
“As a young Black female with amazing potential, the outpouring of support and encouragement was plenty,” she says. But Black MBA students were rare in the early 1990s; only six attended when Hollingsworth Clark was a student.
“There was self-imposed pressure for us to succeed, and those around us advocated for our success so we often received lot of advice and challenge to our decisions to ensure we maximized our potential,” she says.
The power of relationships includes finding good mentors. Clark counts among her mentors on campus Howard Johnson, then chair of mathematics education and associate vice chancellor for academic affairs; and Robert Hill, vice president for public relations. And their mentoring continued into her professional career. “Through Coming Back Together and other Syracuse University events, we stayed in touch over the years,” she says.
Through the National Black MBA Association, she found a female mentor, Pamela Smith, president of the local chapter and chair of the Department of Business Administration at SUNY Morrisville, to go along with “the most significant mentor in my life,” her mother.
When she joined the Whitman Advisory Council, the dean, now Dean Emeritus Melvin Stith ’73 MBA, ’78 Ph.D., became another mentor. His skill as an intent listener impressed her, “plus he had a big smile, which always made me comfortable speaking to him because I knew that he was incredibly smart, so I always sought to maximize the time I had direct access to him.”
Stith was generous with his answers to her questions on her career choices, how to think through different scenarios, how to problem solve and how to navigate life, especially as a Black professional, Clark says.
Stith praises Hollingsworth Clark’s willingness to get involved with students and the curriculum during her Advisory Council service, which ended when she relocated to the West Coast to join Wells Fargo.
“She was always open to conversation with students, either while she was on campus or through social media. She was an advocate for making sure our curriculum was relevant to issues confronting financial services,” Stith says. “Finally, she was a role model and mentor to Whitman students of color.”
To continue that role as a mentor to people of color starting a business career, Clark emphasizes relationships and a sense of ethics.
“You are capable of everything your heart desires. Master the fundamentals and language of business and build effective relationships,” she says. “Success is not an individual activity. It truly takes many to support success. Therefore, care for and nurture every relationship you are fortunate to have.
“Most importantly, be a good steward over your work and be honest, ethical and transparent in all that you do. Good business is the best business.”
 has highlighted inequities that must be addressed structurally, through new policies to ensure all can engage in economic and educational opportunities.”
Yvette Hollingsworth Clark ’94 MBA
Observing the disrupted world of 2020, Clark says this year “has highlighted inequities that must be addressed structurally, through new policies to ensure all can engage in economic and educational opportunities.”
It’s time to improve our technology skills as a country and to become more virtually engaged, she says. “Although I believe it’s a challenge, it’s also an opportunity for educational institutions to begin bridging the gap by designing and executing programming to prepare the workforce of the future.”