Profiles – Gavin Macdonald

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Profiles: Gavin Macdonald


Meet Gavin...

Gavin Macdonald joined PAG in January 2022 via the Kickstart scheme. He originally provided data technical support to our Growth team and now works as a researcher for Create: Schools. Gavin grew up in Moray, North East Scotland but lives in Glasgow. He graduated from Queen Margaret University, with a BA in Business Management with Finance.

What kind of projects do you work on at PAG? Just list a few examples that give a flavour for what you do.

As my job title suggests a lot of research-oriented work with quite a strong focus on the quantitative side of things, anything involving interactive maps with some bid writing and data analysis mixed in there as well.

In terms of actual projects over the last few months I have mainly contributed to free school bids and some applicant support on the Create: Schools side of things.

Over the next few months, I’m really looking forward to working on some research projects that are in the pipeline.

Do you have a project that you are particularly proud of or enjoyed working on and why?

It has to be the SEND review we did for Bath and North East Somerset in February last year. Not only did I find the research interesting, but this is when I knew I’d found the right company to work for. I’d not long started at PAG and was still only on a part time contract but was given a lot of trust on a project that pushed me out my comfort zone and did so much for developing my skills, knowledge of the sector and self-belief. Although there were expectations for me to provide a high standard of work , at no stage did I feel under pressure to do anymore than my best. 

This was my first piece of client facing work, so it was very fulfilling to see a satisfied client who provided some very useful feedback, and then commissioned us to write their application for a new special free school. The research also ignited a particular interest into the current trends and challenges within SEN provisions, that I previously had quite a scarce knowledge on – this equipped me well for the LA: SEND Wave 3 later that year. 

These research projects based on open ended business questions that our clients want to gain a better understanding of are now what I look forward to the most. 

Why did you start working in consultancy?

I faced the same issue that many recent graduates experience, struggling deciding what direction to go in with their career - I initially thought of finance but was put off after working for an insurance agency with a poor company culture. I knew after that I wanted to go into a field that provided me with the opportunity to develop a diverse range of skills that are in demand and easily transferable. One of my favourite things about working in consultancy is you’re always kept on your toes, being prepared to react quickly – which I feel is invaluable to build on early in your career. 

In the context of PAG its really nice to know the work you are doing is helping improve outcomes along with the hope of levelling the playing field – and really drives you power through those weeks with multiple deadlines around the corner. 

What's your favourite way to relax after a long day at work?


Working remotely can feel very lonely sometimes so always try and meet up with friends a few times during the week or get a bit of exercise in, however my commitment to the gym has been questionable at best the last few months. 

Post work beers in the sun will always be a favourite during the nicer weather. 

What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given?

Not to dwell on the past, take ownership of your mistakes and use them as something to improve on. It’s hardly a ground breaking piece of advice but something I always comeback and remind myself of. 

Do you have any other fun stories from your time at PAG?

Hard to think of any in particular but the post meeting/team day drinks are always a highlight, still don’t know how I’ve never missed my return flight home – always cutting it fine and being thankful for delays as its a struggle leaving a pub surrounded by such good company! 

Although one of these shaky return journeys did include me water damaging a PAG laptop – but that’s still too recent for it to be funny… 

What's the last bit of content you fell in love with?

Banshees on Inisherin was a recent watch that I thought was so good I watched it twice in the same week 

I re-watched Time a few days ago and was just as gripping as the first viewing, very good short series – Stephen Graham and Sean Bean are absolute class acts.