Friday 15th January 2021

...with Mark McDonald

News from Alumni

What does a typical day look like for you?

I'm a developer for a small company called Happy Porch.  The Happy Porch team I work with are distributed all around the world, so a lot of my time is spent on conference calls catching up with the team and having more deliberate conversations that would probably not be needed if we were in the same room.  I currently work as a project lead and a senior developer on a project for a client based in Edinburgh.  This involves yet more calls – this time with the client, where we discuss planning, priorities and management of the project.

The part I enjoy most about working for Happy Porch is that we have a goal of ‘partnering with organisations who are making the world a better place’.  I spend some of my time each day working on pro-bono and non-profit projects that are making a real difference in their respective areas.

In the evenings you can either find me relaxing and probably in a swimming pool with friends doing some training.  If I’m not training myself, I’ll be volunteering at the swimming club where I learnt to swim as a teacher.  I’ve been the chief coach at the club since 2017, so I spend a few hours a week doing various tasks for that such as planning, organising sessions, communicating with committee members and responding to enquiries from people looking to join the club.

When you were younger what did you want to be?

When I was really young I wanted to be an Olympic swimmer.  As I grew slightly older, I didn’t really have a set direction I wanted to take and instead made decisions based on what I enjoyed doing.

What is the latest book you are reading?

I have a few books that I am currently reading:

Shantaram by George David Roberts – this was recommended to me while I was recently traveling around the States.  It’s based on a true story and follows an Australian who escaped from prison and found his way to Bombay, India.  It follows his journey as he finds his feet and copes with being on the run.  This is a lengthy book and I’m not far into it but it’s been a gripping read so far.

Mythos by Stephen Fry – An audiobook narrated by Stephen Fry is always worth a listen.  This one retells the stories of Greek mythology.

Words that work in business – I always seem to be reading a business related book.  Recently, I’ve been learning about communication models and this one focuses on nonviolent communication.

What is your all-time favourite movie?

My favourite movie I’d probably go with a childhood favourite of Toy Story or something along those lines.

What advice would you give your teenage self?

I think I’d tell myself to say “yes” more often to spontaneous opportunities.  Something I’ve learned in the past few years is that life is more interesting when you start saying “yes” - even to your own passing ideas or wishes.

What do you have hoped to achieved in the next 5 years?

I never seem to have a long term plan.  I think as long as I’m enjoying my job and making a difference in the world – however small that may be – and I have friends and family around me along with swimming, then I’ll be happy.  The one direct answer to that is that I hope to have travelled more.


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