Growing up in Eastern Montana, D.J. Clark loved to watch giant thunderstorms rumble across the plains.

He enrolled in the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City, hoping to study meteorology.

Before he got too far, Clark’s academic adviser took him aside and mentioned that his post-graduation job prospects probably weren’t too favorable if he decided to stick with that major.

“He said the meteorology industry had over-hired in the last 10 years. Unless you want to be a TV weatherman, there weren’t too many jobs,” Clark said.

Clark transferred to Montana State University and graduated with bachelor's and master's degrees in civil engineering.

He said he always tested well in math and science growing up, so engineering was a good fit. Here’s how he ended up in his current job as associate/senior engineer with Sanderson Stewart.

After college, "I took a job in Billings working for Marvin & Associates, a two-man traffic engineering firm that shared office space with Sanderson Stewart. After three years working for Marvin & Associates, I had gotten to know the Sanderson Stewart crew very well. They hired me in 2005 and the rest is history."

At the height of the Bakken oil boom in North Dakota, Clark spent quite a bit of time in Williston, working in the firm's satellite office. Although the oil boom has slowed, Sanderson Stewart remains busy with projects in Montana.

What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job? The biggest challenge that Sanderson Stewart faces as a company is often the dynamic nature of the marketplace across our core Montana service areas. Our great state has a strong economy and growth is steady in most of our markets, but the demand for our services ebbs and flows at times based on regional and national political and financial swings. Strong local economies also draw new competitors into the marketplace, particularly when other regions of the country experience downturns. It’s a good problem to have in many ways and we take pride in being proactive about solving those challenges in order to meet the needs of our core communities.

What’s the best business advice you have received? I don’t know that it was advice so much as it was a simple life lesson, but I was raised to work hard, to be polite and to be honest and accountable. I think those are good foundational values for any aspect of life, including business.

Who gave you that advice? My parents. They are both great people with kind hearts and a great work ethic. 

Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community: Coming out of the recent election cycle and another round of Cat-Griz football, I’ve been struck by the animosity people have toward one another on big important issues like who will be our next president and also on far less important things like who won Cat-Griz. I’ll be a diehard Cats fan until I die, but if you find yourself having the urge to vandalize someone’s vehicle because they have the opposing team’s license plates or attacking someone physically over who they voted for, it’s time to take a step back and really think about your values. Somewhere, I’ve seen a billboard that just says “Be Nice.” Montana is known for its friendly and polite people. I’d love to see us work harder collectively to live up to that reputation.

Outside of work, my biggest passion is: Passionate is a nice way of putting it, but I’m pretty wound up about a lot of things, most of them pretty superficial (like the football teams I root for). More importantly though, I am wound up about my people and my dogs. There are no guarantees of a tomorrow for any of us or the ones that we love, so I try to remind myself daily to be grateful for all the blessings in my life and not take anything for granted.

Which living person do you most admire? She may roll her eyes a bit if she reads this, but I admire my wife. She works really hard and she loves her job and it shows. She’s a great wife, a great friend to many, including my family and she loves our dogs like no other. 

Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? It’s extremely important to us at Sanderson Stewart that we accomplish the goals of our clients and that we provide great customer service in doing so. We are constantly looking for ways to improve for our clients and for the company.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? I’m not a horn-tooter. I’m proud of several things I’ve done in my life, most of them relatively small in the grand scheme of things, but I would like to think that my greatest achievements, big and small, are yet to come.

I’m happiest when I’m… Hunting. I love enjoying the Montana outdoors with my friends and my dogs. We are blessed to be able to do that right in our backyards here in Montana.