592: Beyond Disruption, Capitalizing on New Opportunities | Sameer Bhargava, CFO, Clark Construction Group

Listen to the Episode Below (00:45:51)

Having built a successful career in private equity with 13 of those years with the formidable and clandestine Carlyle Group,  Sameer Bhargava was probably not the most likely candidate to fill a CFO position at Clark Construction Group of Bethesda, Maryland.

The two businesses belonged to strikingly different worlds. Whereas Carlyle’s populated its world with leading edge investment vehicles and innovative global assets, Clark populated its with signature skyscrapers and civic projects that are today credited with transforming public space. 

Still, both businesses – headquartered in the greater Washington, DC area – share what arguably remains industry’s greatest hiring determinant – a common geography.

For its part, Clark Construction’s resume is filled with “home town”projects of stature including The Wharf – a pedestrian- oriented DC waterfront community and the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

“Every block that you drive by, Clark is building something incredibly impressive,” remarks Bhargava, who quickly emphasizes Clark’s national footprint by mentioning other Clark credits including  San Francisco’s Salesforce Tower and San Antonio’s Frost Tower. 

While Bhargava’s enthusiasm for Clark’s work is evident, he makes clear his move to Clark was driven by more than geography and the firm’s A-list menu of cityscape projects.    

“In medicine and other industries, you get better and smarter and the more specialized you become.  Whereas in business it’s quite the opposite,” says Bhargava, who encourages others to “take the risk to be uncomfortable” and “do things differently”. –Jack Sweeney

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Guest: Sameer Bhargava

Company: Clark Construction Group

Connect: www.clarkconstruction.com

Headquarters: Bethesda, Maryland

CFOTL: Tell us about Clark – what is it known for? What types of projects has it been involved with?
Bhargava: Clark is a 114-year-old company with $5 billion in revenue nationwide. We are one of the biggest firms, we are commercial- and civil-focused, and we build across the country. I think that we are the largest U.S. privately held construction company out there. We have hundreds of projects going on at any given time across the country, in all different sectors of public and private work. We employ about 4,000 people around the country, plus many subcontractors and other people at our job sites.

Our projects range from the Chase Center and Salesforce Tower in San Francisco to a new terminal at the Kansas City International Airport to the National Museum of African-American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. We’ve done a lot of hospitals, including one at Fort Bliss, Texas. There’s the the Frost Tower in San Antonio, the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, and McCormick Place in Chicago. We also have civil projects like roads, bridges, and tunnels going on across much of America.

There’s always something big and prominent and complex that we’re working on. We also continue to build new businesses within—specialty businesses—that range from turnkey, public to private opportunities to digital IT types of services through our S2N Technology Group to mass transit projects with our C3M Power Systems team. We’ve got a lot of different pieces going on, which has worked pretty well for us.