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Alumni Profiles

Phil MacDonald

Phil MacDonald

Faculty of Applied Science & Technology
Year of Graduation: 1985
Program: Business Computer Systems

Phil MacDonald - Business Computer Systems 1985

Phil MacDonald is a rare breed: He has worked for the same company for over 22 years. Why such staying power in a world where job-hopping is increasingly considered a normal part of career development?

“People ask me that all the time, says Phil, Vice President Information Technology for Livingston International, a leading North American customs brokerage, transportation and logistics services provider. “My company has kept pace with the changing world of technology to remain competitive. It seems like every four to five years Livingston reinvents itself and becomes a more interesting place to work.”

Although staying on top of technology changes keeps life interesting, it also poses the biggest challenge for Phil and his colleagues. “We are always striving to being leading edge and not bleeding edge.”

That also involves keeping your best talent, he adds. “IT people like to work on cutting edge technology. So if we continue to offer the latest technology along with skills updating, our people will stay longer,” says Phil, who has led many initiatives during his years at Livingston, including migrations to new web-based technologies and the integration of acquired businesses.

Phil himself credits his longevity not only to his technical know-how but to his strong communications skills. “My experience is that non-technology people in sales or finance, for example, can be intimidated by IT so you need to put them at ease and explain what will work in language they understand.”

Born and raised in Ottawa, Phil moved to Mississauga with his family after he completed high school. “My father told me the future would revolve around computers and that picking up programming skills would offer me more career opportunities.”

Before long, Phil was studying hard at Sheridan to gain those valuable skills. But his college experience wasn’t all work and no play. “I have some great memories of playing on Sheridan’s varsity hockey team my first year. Even though we didn’t win much, we still had a great time.”

Among other memorable moments was learning that his future wife attended Sheridan, says Phil, who met Paula Tobin (Fashion Design, 1985) while working during the summer. “Sharing our college experiences was and remains very special to me.” Paula and Phil now have two children studying at the University of Guelph.

Phil’s advice to new graduates is based on his early years at Livingston. “Find ways to learn as much as possible about your business,” says Phil, who counts one of his first jobs at Livingston – in problem log support - as a turning point for him.

“Everyone hated it because you would get called at all hours of the day. But over time, I started to understand the business terminology and systems. Soon, I was the expert and the IT managers at the time would compete to get me on their projects.”