Alumni Spotlight: Joseph Angus Macdonald
Alumni Spotlight is a series of interviews conducted with members of the Dalhousie Alumni Association.
Joseph Angus Macdonald
Class of ‘91
MBA in international business (multi-cultural management and finance)
Nickname?: Not really, but I was Pops to one of the young students I tutored!
Current role: Tourism development and marketing specialist. Works with destination marketing organizations, such as Travel Alberta, Economic Development groups, Tourism Calgary, as well as large and small businesses locally, nationally and internationally.
Dalhousie Gazette: Why did you choose this field?
Joseph Angus Macdonald:vIt fit my passion for interacting with people and as a student of life!
DG: Why did you decide to attend Dalhousie?
JAM: Dal, Western and UBC all had international business centres, but the Dal model worked best for me. We cut our teeth on theory and case studies and then applied our knowledge by working with local businesses. The cases studies were invaluable with helping to understand real world problems and brainstorming solutions.
DG: Where did you live while you were at Dal?
AJM: Herring Cove Road. I rode my bicycle in past the Armdale Rotary—took about 30 minutes. The hills were great exercise.
DG: Where could you be found most often on campus while you were at Dal?
AJM: Grad House next to the SUB.
DG: Favourite place to study while at Dal?
AJM: Grad House. I was Chair of the Grad House Management Committee (the Dal Association of Grad Students).
DG: What was your biggest distraction while you were at Dal?
AJM: DAGS, broomball and working marking undergrad papers. I also provided (free) tutoring in the MBA program, especially in accounting. There were four or five students who were struggling with financial accounting and I managed to help all of them pass the course—we had a hell of a party after exams!
DG: What was your favourite cafeteria food on campus?
AJM: I made my own lunch and on weekends went to Pizza Corner by the public library downtown.
GD: What is your favourite Dal memory?
AJM: I was proud to have tutored some of the other students through the financial accounting course, but I particularly remember one 17-hour New Year’s drive non-stop to Ontario.
Some years after graduation, between 1995 and 2000, I returned to Dal to set up an innovative distance MBA program. I am very proud of what our initial team and our successors have accomplished with the program. The program is a partnership with the Institute of Canadian Bankers who contributed seven of the program’s initial 16 courses from their Professional Banker’s program. The MBA (financial services) program graduates approximately 100 students a year from a full MBA (not executive) and provides a positive financial contribution to the School of Business.
DG: How did your Dal experience prepare you for your current role?
AJM: I developed critical thinking skills, which I have applied in every role I have held since, and learned to take nothing for granted no matter the source of information.
DG: What do you see as the best thing about being a Dal alum?
AJM: It means I graduated! There is something about Dal that encapsulates tradition, and things that last. There is a special culture there—the ocean, hard work, pulling together. That means a lot to me.
DG: Do you have any words of wisdom for current Dal students—something you wish you had known when you were a student?
AJM: I had 14 years of work experience and so I knew the things I wanted to learn. I would encourage others to get some work experience before taking an MBA. I would really encourage undergraduate students to take the co-op program.
Always give thanks for what you have. Don’t get out of bed without thinking about how fortunate we are to live in Canada, purely by an accident of our birth, and as a result find a way to give back, and to help those who struggle to survive. After graduation I got involved with WUSC (World University Service of Canada) and went to Botswana. WUSC started out sending undergrads to developing countries as teachers in their subject area and evolved into sending university graduates to work in their area of expertise. I landed at a dairy farm on the edge of the Kalahari Desert where we turned the company around in 2 years. While there, I taught in a University of Botswana extension program and I took a 130-metre jump off the Victoria Falls bridge on a bungee cord!