Charlie McDonald

Making things work better.

Military officer Charlie McDonald gets a global view of business

Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio.
Former career: Seven years in the Air Force.
Current Career: Commodity manager for American Airlines.
Cool fact: After three deployments in the Middle East, he can literally move an airport around the world.

On the job: As a commodities manager for one of the world’s biggest airlines, Charlie handles supply chain issues that most passengers never think about. He might purchase baggage carts by the thousands or arrange an alternate assembly of lavatory units to meet an early deadline. “I service ground equipment like deicers, baggage carts, forklifts — all that stuff you’re looking at from your window on a plane. That’s what I’m buying for the company.”

The personal touch: TCU’s small classes — where students and professors know each other well — delivered what he missed during his undergrad years at a huge state school. “I didn’t really enjoy the experience of being lost in the crowd, where you didn’t know your teachers. The personal connections are a big part of the Neeley School. It’s provided me with some great friendships and a network of faculty and staff that is always looking out for my best interests.”

Best class: Operations Management, taught by one of the school’s most demanding professors, proved most useful. “Dr. Tyson Browning is the toughest teacher, but that class related to the work I do, specifically project management. In simple terms, it’s asking how you can make things work better. It’s about efficiencies.”

Global view of business: Traveling to Argentina was a great excuse to learn outside the usual classroom and to bond with his classmates. It delivered behind-the-scenes knowledge of one of South America’s biggest economies. “I learned about the opportunities and pitfalls of doing business in South America in general and Argentina in great detail.  For instance, we explored the tremendous opportunities in logistics security — which is my bread and butter with my background.”

Linked in: When Charlie was deployed to Afghanistan midway through his MBA, TCU worked with him to devise a plan to graduate quickly when he returned. His classmates stayed in touch through Facebook and sent monthly care packages. “The TCU staff was really understanding of my situation — and that means a lot. In my eyes, you don’t have to wear the uniform to serve your country. But when the time comes, you have to step up and support the ones who do. That’s what TCU did for me.”

A smooth landing: With his extensive logistics experience, Charlie was in demand among employers. After interviewing with GE, IBM, Walmart, AT&T, HP, Eaton and other companies, how did it feel to find the right position? “It felt good because things went according to plan. When I was looking at TCU, I knew it had strong links to aviation and aerospace companies like Bell Helicopter, American Airlines and Lockheed Martin. That was one of the key reasons I chose TCU.”

Charlie McDonald

“I knew TCU had strong links to aviation and aerospace companies like Bell Helicopter, American Airlines and Lockheed Martin. That was one of the key reasons I chose TCU.”

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