Mark McDonald: Charting the way for a brighter future
For Mark McDonald, nothing beats feeding the passion of your children. Consequently, McDonald, who is celebrating 20 years of marriage to wife Peta-Gaye, goes above and beyond to prioritise the passion of his three children: Nasib, 18, Thandiwe, 16, and 14-year-old Yared.
McDonald dedicates as much energy to the demands of his full-time job as to his family. This is evident in his more than two decades with the spirit giant J. Wray & Nephew Ltd (JWN), where he currently serves as senior finance director.
“As a parent, you become heavily invested in your children’s activities. I remember when my boys were playing prep-school football; that became my main focus for the day, I couldn’t wait for the game to start. I got involved in football because of them and put in a lot of hours,” he said.
“For my daughter (Thandiwe) it’s the same, I spend time with her at swimming, whether it’s taking her to training at 5 a.m., acting as a timekeeper, or even being an avid fan, carefully watching her progress from the stands. That is part of being a father,” admitted McDonald.
NAVIGATING THE WATERS
“My daughter is generally more overt with her expressions of love and with her, I ensure that I make time to listen. My boys are not as expressive, but you can’t discount the fact that they need you to be attentive as well.”
He continued, “The relationship goes through ebbs and flows as they grow, and I grow into being a father. Every step of the way in terms of pre-adolescence, adolescence, teenage, is different and brings unique challenges. You can’t parent a six- or seven-year-old the same way you do a teenager. The dynamics change every stage of the way, and you have to help to guide and support them as they go through life and help them to chart the course to be good people, good citizens and making a contribution to the overall society,” McDonald expressed.
His parenting style is consistent with the values he was taught by his father, who kept him grounded from the boyhood days in Patrick City, where he was born. At this time when fathers are recognised in a special way on Father’s Day, he was asked about the role fathers must play in curtailing the involvement of mostly boys in crime in the country.
LEAD BY EXAMPLE
“Fathers play a big, big role. They say that kids learn from what they see, and so for a boy to see a father in the household and for a daughter to see a father in a household makes a world of difference,” said McDonald.
“Having a loving father shaped my perspective on life. I always saw my father heading out to work, always making the sacrifice for his kids. It always made you know that you had somebody who’d always be there for you, and it gave a sense of confidence. I also want to provide that to my kids … I’ll always be their father. No matter what, they can always call on me, no matter – good, bad or indifferent,” he explained.
McDonald, one of five children, attended Pembroke Hall Primary, but migrated at age nine with his parents to Washington, DC, where he attended Orange High, moved on to middle school and then Rutgers University, where he completed his BSc in accounting with a minor in statistics, then an MBA in finance.
A sports enthusiast, he played American football and since returning to Jamaica, served president of Seaview Gardens Football Club during a time when they won the KSAFA Major League football competition. That, too, was a place where he interacted with and provided guidance to youth, like he does with his children.
The club is based next door to JWN’s Spanish Town Road operations in one of the surrounding areas that benefits from the company’s corporate social responsibility activities. McDonald is himself a board director of the JWN Foundation and the self-appointed chief fundraising officer.
McDonald, who travels frequently for work, credits trusted partner Peta-Gaye with being the stabling force at home and helping him to balance family and work life.
“She allows me to be a good father. She gives me the room to be a father to all the kids. From a mother’s perspective, they see things differently, but she does not discount my contribution to their growth,” said McDonald.
“My end game, or what I’d love to see, is for them (his children) to be happy people with a sense of purpose, and for them to find their calling in life and achieve whatever it is they’re trying to achieve,” he said. “Once they’re happy and doing things in the right way, I’m good.”