Professor Sir Jim McDonald, 63, was elected president of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2019. One of Scotland’s most accomplished engineers, he has been principal and vice-chancellor of the University of Strathclyde since 2009 and co-chairs the Scottish government’s Energy Advisory Board. He was knighted in 2012 for services to education, engineering and the economy.
What was your childhood or earliest ambition?
To be like my dad. He was my hero. I lost him when I was 12.
Private school or state school? University or straight into work?
I was brought up and educated in Govan, the shipbuilding district in the heart of Glasgow. State schools: primary schools, St Anthony’s and St Constantine’s; secondary, St Gerard’s. I was planning to leave at 16 and go into the shipyards. Advice from my mother and encouragement from my teachers persuaded me to stay on and go to Strathclyde University. I was