Demi Knight Clark has twenty-five years of experience disrupting the construction industry — from throwing a hammer, scaling production home builder divisions, sitting in manufacturer RVP seats, founding a nonprofit for women in trades, to speaking, consulting, TedX’ing, and now as a female founder in construction and welding. She is committed to helping other women harness the power of the Infrastructure Jobs Trade Act & Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) to become "tradepreneurs" in the future of traditional trades as they adapt to technology.
In this Q&A as one of the YAA's new Eli Ambassadors, Demi shares why she chose the Yale Global Executive Leadership Program, details her New Haven and Yale campus favorites, and explains her problem-solving mindset.
My brother went to HBS years ago and had a great experience, so I looked to both Harvard and Yale when I decided to pivot to "go back to school" at age 40. I was intimidated by a pool of younger students online at many colleges — and the minute I was in the Yale Global Executive Leadership Program (YGELP) arena, I knew it was a community of executives who were 20+ years in their industries, with diverse and wide ranges of subject matter expertise.
What is your most enduring memory of your time at Yale?
The seasons and the campus! You can't beat New Haven in Fall, Winter or Spring — the snow is peaceful and quiet; the leaves changing on the trees in the squares radiant; and the blooms in the Spring just full of life. The campus is something you can't describe to people. It's Hogwarts-meets-small-town-USA. I always expected to see Harry Potter walk out of one of the colleges.
If you could relive your time at Yale, what would you do differently?
I would have made more time to attend events from undergraduates. Yale School of Management and Evans Hall is a graduate facility, and while it was tremendous to be surrounded by like-minded post-graduate folks, I always loved seeing the energy of the undergraduate community. Yale is unparalleled in the grit and expertise of 18–22 year olds coming to campus to change the world!
What would you do exactly the same?
I would be the social butterfly that I was during my time at Evans Hall! I made it a point, even when I was tired, jet-lagged, or stressed from work to land in New Haven and "start my life" for that week or weekend at Yale in a cocoon. How many times would I see these people again? When? From all over the world! So I wanted to meet and listen to as many diverse backgrounds, opinions and ideas as possible. I'm happy to say I have lifelong friends all over the world from this!
What is your favorite place in New Haven, past or present?
The bookstores and cafes. My older daughter is a thrifter and a bibliophile, so I'm honed in to books wherever I go. New Haven is an easy town to want to sit and people watch over an espresso. Add a book, it's brilliant.
What is your favorite spot on campus?
The Yale University Art Gallery. It was my sanctuary. Every time I went, it was a place I could stand among the art and think, be creative and learn.
What's your favorite pizza place in New Haven?
BAR PIZZA. Hands down, I'll fight anyone. Plus they make a killer Old Fashioned to go with it. Only in New Haven can you make pizza and Old Fashioned's a thing.