Don’s Story – One man’s life-changing move from Scotland to Zambia – Overseas Accountancy Jobs

Don MacDonald, a man we assisted in moving over 15 years ago, initially set out to live and work in Zambia on a two-year contract, but after six months of living and working in Lusaka, his family decided that they were enjoying it so much that they wanted to stay. Recently we caught up with him to see how he has been getting on. Don thanks our Managing Director, Abigail, and Think Global Recruitment, (who he jokes are entirely to blame!). He says his experience exceeded his expectations far more than he could ever have expected.  He has lived in Lusaka ever since, working and running his charity ‘Old MacDonald’s Farm’ with his wife Christine.

Old Macdonald's Farm in Zambia

So how exactly did Don discover the opportunity to work in Zambia?

“I was working in the Scottish government’s finance department when I came across a Think Global Recruitment advert for opportunities in Africa that would end up changing my life forever”

“During my lunch hour one day I rang up Abigail. In a quick turnaround between meeting Abigail at Christmas and by the first week of January, I had been offered an interview in London with Deloitte where was offered a role in Lusaka”.

What is Don doing now?

Don is now working as the Managing Director of the airline service company, Zega Limited. Before working for Zega he discovered first hand just how many opportunities there are whilst working abroad.

“About eighteen months into my two-year contract I was doing an insolvency review on Zambian Airways and found it had some problems. Three months later the chairman of the airline joked with me and said ‘why don’t you try running it?’ and that’s how I became the chief executive of a national airline!”

Don grew the airline over the next four years, turning it around from making a loss to making a profit, which was a particular standout moment in his fascinating career.

“Having visited and being exposed to Africa before allowed us to settle in pretty quickly, especially due to it being an English speaking country with a lot of English people”. Don had no concerns before making his international move. “Everything that you might need could be found in the capital city and with great international schools for both of my daughters we had no problems”.

So what does Don think are the advantages of moving overseas?

“The opportunity to advance your career quickly. Within a short space of time, I became the CEO of an airline and you can move faster up the ladder than back home. And of course, the weather is so much better over here”.

What advice would Don give to accountants that are thinking about working overseas?

“Go for it! I’m glad every day I did it. You only live once and it is definitely worth going for. There are huge benefits to the experience and it’s important to remember you don’t have to commit life where ever you go.”

During his fifteen years in Zambia, Don and his wife looked to give back to the community which embraced them so warmly, which is when they decided to start up Old MacDonald’s Farm.

Old MacDonald’s Farm

One day back in 2001, Don and Christine began helping street kids, inviting them in every Sunday for a shower, a home cooked meal and to get some clean clothes. Noticing that there we so many street kids in the local community, they felt something needed to be done to help. Little did they know that their family would extend when an ill young boy became a permanent part of their family and soon enrolled in the nearby school. Old MacDonald’s Farm was born and has since combined several projects on the same site, allowing the opportunity to house more kids in Old MacDonald’s Children’s Home; educating them on lots of matters from conservation farming methods to providing schooling from the on-site school. Over the years their family has been growing and growing with the addition of more young boys staying with them and at one point they had 40 extra children!

After listening to Don’s story it’s hard not to be impressed by all that he has achieved. All of us here at Think Global Recruitment would like to wish him the very best for future and that the next 15 years are just as interesting!

If you would like to find out more about the work of Old MacDonald’s Farm you can visit their website here.

Please get in touch with us here if you would like to discuss moving overseas with one of our advisors.