Meet the MBA Class of 2024: David MacDonald, Imperial

David MacDonald

Imperial College Business School

There are no barriers to the sort of business you want to pursue, the limit is really your imagination.”

HometownInverness, Scotland

Fun Fact About Yourself: I know how to skydive and play the bagpipes — but not at the same time

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Edinburgh, Masters in Chemical Engineering

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Harbour Energy, Process Engineer

What makes London such a great place to earn an MBA degree? London has a lot of advantages as a place to study with amazing culture, sport and nightlife to name but a few! Imperial College Business School, situated in South Kensington, is a really cool location for a campus with the V&A, Science Museum and Natural History Museum on one side and the Royal Albert Hall on the other. London also has some amazing networks and opportunities for students to get involved in and as the economic centre of the UK there are lots of top employers on our doorstep for visits and presentations. As a global city there are options to suit anyone’s tastes!

Imperial College Business School is one of the most culturally and professionally diverse MBA programs in the world. How do you see these global perspectives enhancing the value of your business education over the next year? I had worked solely in the UK in a single industry for my career up to this point so coming to such a global institution has been amazing! In our class of 54 students there are 21 nationalities represented so I am getting a much better global perspective from my cohort when we debate some of the world’s largest challenges. Whether I am listening to a tax specialist from Singapore, a marketing expert from USA or a musician from India you can guarantee you will be learning something new. 

The other benefit is that we enjoy sharing and learning from each other’s cultures. So far we have enjoyed celebrating Diwali as a group, have exciting plans for Thanksgiving later this month and I am looking forward to hosting a Scottish Burns night in January to share some highlights from my culture with my cohort. 

 Your MBA is known for innovation, business and technology. Has the program lived up to its reputation? What advice would you give to future students to help them thrive in the early months of the program? Imperial is definitely living up to its reputation as a leader in innovation and technology. Already we have taken part in the Imperial Innovation Challenge working on Deep Tech for a week getting an opportunity to pitch our idea to experienced VCs. This is one of many opportunities on the MBA course to work on innovative solutions to big problems. 

For prospective students don’t be scared to come to the MBA with some ideas! Before coming to the course take a look at the Imperial Enterprise Lab and competitions like Venture Catalyst Challenge, and WE innovate. These could be a way to launch your idea and build an amazing team to help you achieve your innovation goals.

Aside from your classmates and location, what was the key part of Imperial College Business School’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you?  The association with a world class STEM institution in Imperial College London really attracted me to Imperial College Business School. As a Sainsbury Management Fellow, I was attracted to attend somewhere that is an ecosystem of energy innovation. The leading research at the Grantham Institute and Energy Futures Lab is something we can benefit from with while studying an MBA at the Business School. There are some innovative companies like Ceres Power, who developed fuel cells, and H2GO power, focusing on hydrogen generation and storage, who have come through Imperial’s research and accelerator programs. They are leading examples of the impact that Imperial can have on big global problems. 

What course, club or activity excites you the most at Imperial College Business School? One course we are due to start next term that really excited me is called “Entrepreneurial Journey.” In this we get to form teams, create an idea and take it through the first stages of a start-up before pitching it to real venture capitalists. There are no barriers to the sort of product, service or business you want to pursue, the limit is really your imagination. Getting to try an idea and learn some of the challenges of a start up with the support of the accelerator programs at Imperial is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Who knows I may even find my future co-founder for a business post-MBA. 

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: So far, my biggest career accomplishment was leading the execution of the 2023 shutdown on a 180 person oil and gas platform as the Operations Team Lead. Being able to plan, communicate and execute this £40mm project was the culmination of all the skills I had learned in my eight year career the UK energy industry. I was able to combine my leadership, technical and communication skills to deliver a high value project on time and on budget. It was a great way to leave on a high before starting my MBA.  

What do you hope to do after graduation (at this point)? My post-graduation aspirations are to work as an Energy Transition Lead within an energy company. I aim to address the significant challenges that the UK is confronting in ensuring a reliable, safe, and clean energy supply over the next three decades. My plan is to leverage the expertise gained from Imperial Business School, coupled with my industry experience, to spearhead this transformative change.

The prospect of leading initiatives in the midst of the dynamic and evolving energy landscape is both a challenge and an exciting opportunity. I believe that my generation, along with those to come, will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of sustainable energy. By merging the knowledge and skills acquired from my academic pursuits and professional background, I am eager to contribute to the success of this monumental transition.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Imperial College Business School’s MBA program? If you are unsure about applying reach out to current students for a chat, we are all really approachable and would be happy to chat. 

Make sure you do your research; understand why you can add value to Imperial and why it is an institution that can complement your skills. Read up about all the scholarship opportunities to see if you qualify and spend time building a strong case.

Also look at the opportunities that Imperial has outside of the business school as you may be lucky enough to meet your future co-founder at one of the accelerator events.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far? Being elected as the Vice President of Careers for the business school is a real honour. It is a role I was inspired to apply for as I wanted to help the students from across the 2,000 strong business school gain the role they are passionate about after graduation. I hope to use my experience from my career so far and knowledge of the market to support students who have moved here looking for an exciting career in the UK. In this role I also sit on the Dean’s Student Advisory Council and get to influence the student experience both this year and for future students to come. My goal in this role is to leave a positive legacy for the next batch of Imperial Business School students. 

What has been your best memory as an MBA so far? My best memory so far has been competing in the Imperial Innovation Challenge. In this weeklong competition we got to work with a talented design student from the Royal College of Art. Formed into a team of five we worked on developing a business plan for a piece of Deep Tech not currently on the market. We had to conceive an alternative application for this technology that the researchers had not yet tested. 

My team were lucky enough to work with a company called MakeSense who are developing a navigation tool for blind people. I was attracted to this project as I grew up with a blind uncle, Evan, who loves to try new tech and was really excited when I told him what we were working on. 

We developed a new use for their product to help people with dementia gain their autonomy back, by assisting them find objects in their house or find their way home following a brain fog event. This idea was put into a pitch that we presented to a Dragons Den style panel before a tough Q&A. We were really honored to be chosen as the winning team out of 14 and I loved working an amazing team on such an impressive bit of technology.

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.