Ivey grad turns wanderlust into career

By David McPherson, BA’96, MA’98

Terra Tn

Chris Clark, HBA’96, has an incurable wanderlust.

Discovering the world one country, one city and one neighbourhood at a time is a passion that has shaped his life. He even met his wife, Andrea Gilbert-Clark, BFA’96, BEd’97, in Greece while backpacking in Europe between degrees.

After more than a dozen years working for Bain Consulting, Clark used the sales, marketing and business principles he gleaned in his corporate career – and drew on what he learned during his Western undergraduate education – to launch Terraficionados, a luxury adventure travel business that tailors trips for other like-minded travellers.

“I have always loved to travel and learn about the world by experiencing it first hand,” Clark said. “I will continue to explore the far corners of the globe to expand my mind and fill my soul. I love nothing more than sharing my travel experiences with others.”

In 2009, Clark founded Terraficionados Travel Society and Journeymakers because he figured he was not alone in his quest to see the world. While the travel bug bit him in his 20s, he realized he loved the business of travel while working with a private equity fund that was rolling up the luxury/soft adventure travel market. He left Bain for a two-year externship, joining that company – Grand Expeditions – as its Vice-President (Operations), where he integrated eight businesses into a new company.

The seeds for his solo leap were sown.

Clark’s real education began in 1993 – in the classroom at the Ivey Business School.

“My HBA experience was a fantastic and wonderful two years,” he said. “I was interested in the full breadth of subject matter – from finance to marketing to accounting.”

After graduating, he first interned at Bain and then joined the top-tier global consulting company. “It was like finishing school for me,” Clark said. “I was getting exposed to all kinds of industries and issues; Ivey equipped me wonderfully for that.”

Clark stayed at Bain full-time (with a few twists and turns) until 2009, taking a break to complete his MBA at the Tuck School at Dartmouth College, when he launched Terraficionados.

As Clark grew his travel business, he recruited a small team of like-minded associates, fellow journey-makers he calls society members. They are all travel enthusiasts, eager to show clients the world.

In 2013, Terraficionados – which is industry accredited – teamed up with Ivey to help create a customized international work placement program for students as part of the company’s special-interest travel service. The first group travelled to India that year, spending 10-12 weeks working in a variety of industries. Ivey professor Darren Meister described the trip as “a life-changing experience for the students.”

Today, that program has continued to thrive and expand. What began as a group of 30 students has grown into the Ivey Global Lab, the capstone of the MSc International Business Program, which sends more than 60 students to 20-plus organizations in Nicaragua, India and Vietnam. Ivey professor Andreas Schotter heads the MSc Program; Ivey professor Lynn Imai leads the Ivey Global Lab course. Clark and Terraficionados continue to be vital partners.

“The world is an amazing place,” Clark said. “Experiential or soft-adventure travel connects you with the world, its many cultures, flavours, scents and vistas. It can be one of the most rewarding things you ever do.”