Guest Speaker Series – Malcolm McDonald – Chairman at Malcolm McDonald International and Professor

Jul 15, 2021

“A lot of people have old skills and knowledge. It’s important to seek out opportunities in research and new skills – that is what will make you profitable.”


For our Guest Speaker Series we were joined with Malcolm McDonald, who is a powerhouse of knowledge and experience. He is an author of 46 books and Chairman of many companies. Additionally, he has been a respected professor at numerous institutes for the past 46 years and currently teaches at 6 business schools. During his session Malcolm collected the lessons learnt over the span of his 60 year career and taught us how we can all better our careers. 

In Malcolms’ words he’s got his feet in both academy and professional camps, which is useful for giving advice to anyone that wants it and we certainly want any advice he can offer. So, how did Malcolm start out?


Malcolms’ Career Development 

Malcolm was offered a scholarship to the University of Oxford and attended Eton College, where he studied English Language and Literature. Desperate for money he went into the sales industry in London. Malcolm quickly realised the best way to make a living was to sell made products to people that needed it at a discount price. 

It became clear that he had to take his career in marketing more seriously when he applied as Marketing Consultant and was questioned on marketing formulas during the interview and had no clue what it was. After this he decided to study marketing. Malcolm was 32 years old at the time and found it difficult to study after so long, but he got the hang of it and went on to become a Consultant and then Director and then completed a PHD. He carefully researched professors to learn how to become one himself and was appointed professor in 1986. Malcolm pointed out that none of this happened by chance and it’s annoying when people say it was all luck. He prides himself on the strategic route he took and it was application and hard work that got him there. 

Skillset and Development 

Malcolm recalls that when he used to interview people and ask what they want to be in 5 years time and they would often respond they wanted his job to try to impress him. Unfortunately, it had the opposite effect, as they failed to know what knowledge and skills they needed to get them to his position. You need to know what you need to get there and do that. If you don’t have that knowledge, then you can’t get there.  

How to kick start your career 

Start with a clear statement of what you want to achieve – it doesn’t matter if you can achieve it or not, because even if you can’t, you can see the gap between where you are and where you want to end up. You need to outline the destination and the steps you need to take to get there.  

Activity for Progression:

Keep a record over 3 months of the circumstance, your action and the outcome. This will help you to understand yourself better and realise what you have to do to get the best outcome. It may take time, but in the long run it will stop you from doing the wrong thing well. 

Overcoming Adversity

Malcolm faced a major crisis in his life when he decided to leave his job as Marketing Manager. The company he worked at was paying his mortgage and salary and he had no money and had to borrow £10K, which equates to 100k today. He started to struggle with depression and people around him kept having an opinion on his actions. When he arrived at Bradford to start again he found it was a very testing time. 

To overcome this challenging time Malcolm trusted and had faith in what he wanted to do and so he went about putting the pieces in place to achieve it. Malcolm advises anyone going through something similar to overcome it by having deep belief in where you want your destiny to be. However, this doesn’t come without consequences, as he lacked time and often neglected his family, but it’s about belief and application. You need to know where you want to go and if you find you’re not on the right route then adjust. Take the right action and things will work out if you keep moving forward. 

How to minimise your weakness?  

Even though it’s difficult to admit we all have weaknesses – companies try to minimise their weaknesses and maximise their strengths. If you’re their competitor you try to do the opposite to them. Malcolm recommends taking psychometric tests to identify what your character weaknesses are, as they provide good character analytics. The tests will help you to find out what you’re good at, and leverage your strengths, but also book courses to overcome weaknesses.  

Key Takeaways 

  • Have a clear direction of where you want to go and how you are going to get there
  • Always seek out and acquire new skills and learnings
  • To overcome adversity have a deep belief that you will get to where you want
  • Take a psychometric test to unearth your weaknesses 
Lena Miah

Lena is our Marketing Executive here at She is versed in all things marketing and loves creating thought provoking, inspirational, and informative pieces for the company. 

Lena was born and raised in London. She has a passion for all things words and completed a BA degree in Journalism at the University of Roehampton. 

When she isn’t keeping the company blog in tip top condition she can be found in a yoga class or checking out the London food scene, but if the food isn’t up to par she could bake it all herself. 

You can find Lena on LinkedIn here 

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