Ben Clark graduated from the University of Georgia in May of 2012 with a bachelor's degree in English and philosophy. By October he was working in China.
"I was president of the Young Democrats at UGA," said Clark, a graduate of Northwest Whitfield High School. "I had volunteered on a couple of local campaigns. But I was looking to do something different. I thought learning Chinese, learning how to navigate a country like China — the culture, the business — would be useful to know."
Clark had studied French, not Chinese, in college. But his sister Elizabeth said she isn't surprised he made such a bold decision.
"He has always been someone with a plan," she said. "I'm really proud of him."
Clark's desire to learn Chinese turned into an adventure that lasted for more than six years.
"I lived in six different cities in China," he said. "I was everywhere from the east coast near Shanghai to central China to north China and all the way south to Hong Kong."
Clark said he learned to speak Chinese fluently.
"It's difficult to live in China for very long and not learn Chinese," he said. "Everyone wants to help you learn."
For much of his time in China, he says he taught English.
"I did a little bit of everything in teaching," he said. "I taught kindergarten, elementary school, middle school, a little bit of high school. I taught at a college for a year-and-a-half. I also taught business English."
For the last several months he was in China, he worked as a third-party quality control agent, working on behalf of foreign firms that had contracted with Chinese factories, making sure the factories delivered their products to the company's specifications.
"It was easy to work in China when I first went over there, but the regulations and the paperwork have gotten exponentially more difficult," he said.
And after six-and-a-half years in China, Clark said he wants a new challenge.
"India has been on my radar for a long time," he said. "After working in quality control and account management, I feel like I finally have all the tools and experience that I need to just go in on my own."
Clark has formed Elephant Bridge (elephantbridge.com) and will be headed to India soon.
"At first, I will be doing corporate training, similar to what I did in China," he said. "Indian businesses who are looking to expand internationally, I would go to their offices and teach them business English so they can deal better with Americans, English people and other Europeans. English is really the business language internationally."
But Clark hopes to focus more on supply chain management.
"I want to eventually be able to help American companies looking to have something manufactured in India," he said. "I will be visiting factories, doing research, developing profiles of manufacturers so that a company can come to Elephant Bridge and say they want to manufacture chairs or ceramic home goods or whatever in India, and I can give them a list of factories with their strengths and weaknesses. From there, the company can go on alone, or I can help manage production or arrange other third-party services."