Former Maritime Rescue Institute Director set for double celebration

Joanna McDonald 1Joanna McDonald, from Stonehaven, is to graduate with a MSc in Corporate Communication and Public Affairs (CCPA) on Thursday 9 December at 2.30pm.

It will be a double celebration for Joanna, who also celebrates her 36th birthday the same day!

Joanna, who previously worked at the Maritime Rescue Institute (MRI) in Stonehaven, and as Director of the National Lake Rescue Institute in Uganda, decided to go back to University, thirteen years after completing her first degree in Environmental Biology and Geography at St Andrews in 1996.

After working at the MRI from 1998-2005, Joanna worked in Uganda for three years, where she directed a number of initiatives to prevent drowning in Lake Victoria and Lake Albert. Her position also involved communicating with a diverse range of people, from local fishing communities to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. Between periods in Uganda, Joanna even ran a dog team in Alaska with Dr Linda Chamberlain, an epidemiologist specialising in childhood exposure to violence and brain development.

All of these roles proved to be instrumental in Joanna’s future career plans. “The common theme between all these roles for me was communication and engagement with a broad range of people, organisations and needs. I wanted to find a University environment that would inspire me in the same way that my time abroad had, push me academically, and also make sure that I was well prepared for finding meaningful work.”

Joanna was determined to study CCPA at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen for a number of reasons: “After spending a long time looking for the best course and the best University I decided that the Masters in Corporate Communications and Public Affairs at RGU offered me a fantastic course that was cost effective, specialised and perfect for what I needed in order to pull my experiences together and progress my career. The fact that RGU has such a strong reputation for working with industry was the major factor in my decision to return to Scotland to study.”

This reputation was exceeded when Joanna gained a month-long work placement with the communications consultancy group, The Fifth Business, which she found particularly beneficial. “It was a highly informative month. The Fifth Business is an excellent company to work for and they have provided me with a great entry point into the communications industry and allowed me to develop new skills.”

Having been out of higher education for thirteen years, Joanna felt a certain amount of trepidation about embarking on a course of study again. However, she needn’t have worried, as she went on to win both the class prizes available – best PR campaign and best overall student.

Joanna went on to say that the highlight of her time at the University was when “The Fifth Business approached me in September to develop a training product for a major client. I know that I would never have had this opportunity with The Fifth Business if they hadn’t already shared a close working relationship with RGU.”

Joanna concludes, “The specialised course and strong business partnerships available at RGU meant that I was given a great foundation to solidify and develop my skills. The course let me bridge the gap between academia and my industry experiences, and helped me take the next step in my career.”                           

Pauline Smith
Communications Officer

Robert Gordon University
Communications Office
AB10 1FR

Tel: 01224 262389