Proust Questionnaire: Brad McKay

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Brad McKay
Illustration: Lauren Holmes
Brad McKay
Illustration: Lauren Holmes

The Saint: What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Brad McKay: Rocking up to archaeological sites in Greece with my wife (archaeologist) and two boys (bucket monkeys) when not on a mission to improve the quality of strategic thinking in organisations (not very successfully).

What is your current state of mind?

A bit of yin in search of a bit of yang.

Which talent would you most like to have?

Counting cards.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Building the Millennium Falcon out of Legos.

What is the quality you most like in a professor?

Common sense (and occasionally no common sense whatsoever).

What is the quality you most like in a student?

The naïveté not to know what can’t be done yet.

Who was your favourite teacher/professor and why?

Professor Ian McAllister (Dalhousie) for dedicating his career to helping those less fortunate.

What are you currently researching?

The impact of referendums on business decision making.

Which person in your field do you most admire?

Either Mark Carney (governor of the Bank of England) for having the rarest of qualities: foresight, or Dominic Barton (global managing director of McKinsey) for being both utterly effective and humble at the same time, or Baroness Ford for her no-nonsense intelligence.

What inspired you to pursue your current career? 

Serendipity.

When did you know what you wanted to do in life?

When I was 10 (but Justin Trudeau beat me to it).

What has been your favourite experience as a lecturer?

 Having students write me years later to tell me the strategy courses they took with me have helped their careers.

What has been your most challenging experience as a lecturer?

Explaining the impact of referendums on business decision making to politicians unencumbered with listening skills.

If you could not work in your current field, what would you do instead? Rancher.

Rancher.

If you could fix one problem in the world, what would it be?

Long-term: halting biodiversity loss. Short-term: stopping the bombing of children.

What is the best piece of advice anyone has given you?

Find a relatively young mentor who is on their way up (which I ignored). My advice: figure out early on what you want to do and what will give you a sense of meaning, and be uncompromising in following it.

What is your motto? 

You don’t know what you can’t do until proven empirically otherwise.

Where is your favourite place to travel? Greece.

Greece.

What are you currently reading?

Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles MacKay, a 19th-century Scottish journalist and writer.

What book should everybody read at least once? Voltaire’s

Voltaire’s Candide. It features super satirical treaties on “the best of all possible worlds.”

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