Growing up on a family farm in northeast Iowa, David McDonald gained a first-hand appreciation for the first and most fundamental tier of the human food chain. He learned from his father the basics of animal husbandry through raising beef cattle, from farm to market.
Perhaps it’s just appropriate, then, that McDonald would one day lead one of the largest meat and protein processing companies in the world. Today, David McDonald is President and Chief Operating Officer of OSI Group, an international firm with 65 facilities spanning 17 countries.
McDonald’s educational background served to support his future career. He earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science from the University of Iowa. He was also an active participant in ISU’s Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative. Now at the helm of OSI Group, McDonald has established numerous opportunities for ISU students to further their careers with internships, special projects and jobs.
OSI Group is the only company David McDonald has ever worked for. He started there more than three decades ago in a bottom-rung managerial position. McDonald and the OSI company culture proved to be a perfect match. He rose through the ranks quickly to become OSI Group president. He also holds a seat on the company’s board of directors.
One of the most significant ways McDonald has put his stamp on OSI Group has been his relentless pursuit of sustainability. Food production in a world with more than 7 billion hungry people and increasingly scarce and stressed resources means that giant producers like OSI need smart and well-planned operating procedures. Superior logistics and strategy are paramount.
That includes using fresh water with extreme preservation techniques, adopting green sources of energy to reduce the company’s carbon footprint and humane treatment of animals as they are shepherded through the complex food production process. Employee safety, working conditions and well being are another vital factor. A company is only as good as the people who work for it, McDonald says.
After 31 years, David McDonald is still excited about what he does every day with the company that gave him his first job as a fresh-faced graduate of Iowa State.