After graduating from Harvard University, where he studied physics and biochemistry, Clearfield brought his curiosity and quantitative chops to finance, where he worked as a derivatives trader with a unique focus on technology and collaborative problem-solving in a rapidly growing organization.
At Jane Street, a New York-based quantitative trading firm, Clearfield worked every day with the risks that arise from using computers to make money. As a trader, he had a front seat during the 2007–2008 financial crisis, where he became curious about how some organizations build teams that thrive in complex and uncertain environments—while others struggle, grind to a halt, or even fail catastrophically.
At the same time, training as a pilot, Clearfield began to research why some pilots successfully manage emergencies while others crash despite their best efforts. And when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in 2010—and the accident investigation revealed the same interaction between systems and teams—Chris found his purpose: teaching leaders how to build organizations that thrive in complex and uncertain environments.
Clearfield's past and present clients include forward thinkers such as Etsy, sophisticated hedge funds and energy companies, and the city of New York's office of emergency management. Though from very different fields, these organizations are all driven to deeply understand their world, innovate, and perform at the highest levels.
Clearfield has lived and worked in New York, Tokyo, and Hong Kong. In Asia, he developed an appreciation for how broader culture influences decision making. He speaks Spanish and conversational Swedish and German, and explores the world through travel, flying, food and his life-long love of reading.
Originally from North Carolina, he attended the prestigious North Carolina School of Science and Math. As a high-school student, Clearfield helped discover a long-searched-for pulsar in the remnants of an exploded star. He maintains an avid interest in space and science and gives back in these areas via work with educational non-profits such as the Pacific Science Center.