• Donald C. Clark

    Steve Mustard

    Donald C. Clark

    Donald C. Clark is Vice President of Automation Systems Business Development and a Schneider Fellow at Schneider Electric (formerly Invensys). In this role, Clark is responsible for developing business strategies and campaigns for the systems business cross-portfolio solutions in the core global industrial markets Schneider-Electric serves.  A long-time member of ISA, he represents Schneider Electric on the ISA S95 Steering Committee, serving as its Co-Chairman.

    Could you provide some background on yourself, including how you became interested in a career in automation and exposed to ISA?

    After my graduate education, I started working in a pilot production facility at a large chemical company in Philadelphia, and from that earliest time, I fully recognized just how important industrial “control” was to the success of producing any chemical. In fact, I was disappointed that I hadn’t been better prepared for that reality during my education. 

    In addition, I was shocked to learn that NO ONE seemed to know much about “process control” beyond a few maintenance guys who handled repairs.  It was totally evident that the success of process operations was contingent on “good process control,” but no one seemed to know hardly anything about it. So, I took it upon myself to teach myself and become an expert in the field.  That’s where ISA came in to help me.  From those earliest days, I’ve been deeply involved in all aspects of process control. 

    By 1976-77, I was enmeshed in installing both the earliest PLC (Modicon ‘84s) and DCS (Honeywell TDC2000). So, I was on the ground floor of the digital revolution of process automation, and have remained on the vanguard of that wave ever since, either as an end-user for about half my career, or with various vendors for the other half of my career.

    Tell us about your education and current career role and function

    I received a bachelor of science degree in chemistry from California State University, Fullerton and a master of science degree in chemical engineering from the University of Houston. My thesis was on magneto plasma gas dynamics.

    I began my career with the Rohm & Haas Chemical Company in Philadelphia developing its line of biocides that are still in use today. Through the years, I’ve worked for the 3M Company, Honeywell Control Systems, AspenTech, and Invensys. In total, I have nearly 40 years of user experience on the IT side of process operations, with a special emphasis on businesses involved in specialty chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and hydrocarbon processing.

    I’m currently VP for Schneider Electric, responsible for industry solutions that cut across our entire portfolio that meet customer’s business needs for a core set of industries.  I’m also a Schneider Fellow, dedicated to helping foster technical directions for the company by advising senior executives from a technology perspective. 

    How are you involved with ISA today?

    I’ve been involved with ISA since about 1979, not always as a member, but ALWAYS involved in ISA conferences and events. I “upped” my ISA involvement around 2001 or so by actively participating in the development of the ISA95 standard, and have maintained a high level of participation that ISA standard as well as its international equivalent, IEC62264.

    How would you say ISA has benefited you?

    For the early half of my career, the ISA Conferences provided me with phenomenal exposure, giving me the insights I needed to rapidly build my knowledge base. More recently, my participation in standards development—especially ISA88 and ISA95 – has proven very helpful to both my career and advancing the industry I work in.

    What advice would you give to other young professionals entering the automation profession?

    Be patient, and look at the economics of what drives your customers. You’ll get a new-found appreciation of process control and automation.