Inspiring leadership, Cape Breton style
Allan MacDonald (’92)
Allan MacDonald (’92) is a transformational leader, a visionary thinker, and someone who inspires those around him. He is also down to earth and a Maritimer at heart.
“I’m a practical guy,” he says. “I grew up on a farm in Cape Breton. That practical side of my nature has been a big asset in what I do for a living, and it’s something I cherish.”
MacDonald has fond memories of Acadia, and he put his Bachelor of Business Administration degree to good use after graduation. In the early part of his career, he held senior roles at Bell Canada, Aliant Inc., and British Telecom in the United Kingdom. During that time, he completed a Master’s degree in Business Administration through the Henley Business School in England, graduating in 2003.
“I have fond memories of Acadia. I particularly enjoyed my classes and discussions with Dr. Perkin and Dr. Matthews – they were an inspiration to me.”
In 2009, he joined Canadian Tire Corporation as Vice-President, Corporate Strategy. From 2013 to March 2020, he was Executive Vice-President and President, Retail Division. In this role, he oversaw the retailer’s nearly 1,700 retail and gasoline outlets, including Canadian Tire Retail, SportChek, and Mark’s. He also oversaw the company’s consumer brands and marketing.
Now, with the whole world impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, MacDonald is the Government of Ontario’s Chief COVID-19 Procurement Advisor. As he leads the efforts of Canada’s most populous province to source, buy and distribute critical supplies, he is working with partners at the Ministry of Health, Ontario Health, the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, and the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade.
As well as being a member of Acadia’s Campaign Cabinet, MacDonald has been Co-chair of the Ride to Conquer Cancer Toronto and serves on the Board of Directors of the Sunnybrook Foundation, whose donations exceeded $60 million in their 2019 financial year.
He is also a gifted public speaker and storyteller. In June 2019, he addressed the Canadian Club in Toronto on the topic “Success Amidst a Changing Retail Landscape.” The Canadian Club bills itself as Toronto’s forum to hear trailblazers in politics, business, the social sector, and the media.
Although he was speaking about Canadian Tire and its iconic place in the Canadian landscape, his words would be equally inspiring to individuals. “How do we stay relevant? You have to be curious. Never, ever extinguish that sense of curiosity,” he says. “You have to be willing to challenge and adapt your model. Model is another way you can say process or tradition. But you have to be willing to reinvent yourself. And you have to be able to build loyalty with those who are following you.”