As the unwavering chairman and chief executive officer of a multibillion-dollar company, Scott MacDonald helped saved one of Australia’s iconic companies.
His recently released business memoir, “Saving Investa,” recounts how MacDonald helped rescue the company while looking back at significant moments that helped shape him into a corporate management and leadership expert.
“We survived,” said MacDonald, a Del Mar resident who previously lived in Carmel Valley. “The banks were all paid back. The employees all wound up with secure jobs. I feel like if I hadn’t shown up when I did, that may not have happened. Everybody would have lost.”
Set in Sydney in 2008, “Saving Investa” details MacDonald’s efforts to save Investa Property Group, an Australian commercial real estate property company purchased by Morgan Stanley Real Estate Fund investors in 2007.
MacDonald was working as a consultant for Morgan Stanley’s private equity team when, in 2008, he was asked to spend a week in Australia to determine how to turn around Investa, one of the country’s largest commercial real estate companies.
“I flew down in mid-2008 thinking I’d go for a week, take a look and give them some advice,” MacDonald recalled. “I didn’t leave for five-and-a-half years.”
Although initially resisting his assignment, MacDonald accepted a six-month stint that turned into five years as chairman and chief CEO of Investa.
“I had no intention to stay,” MacDonald said. “But the company was falling apart. People were about to resign in mass. We were losing $10 million a month. The company was going to fail, so I just stayed.”
At the time he became head of the company, Investa had $9 billion in assets and about 650 employees.
But the company was overridden by massive debt. So MacDonald, the only American, worked to restructure the debt and restructure the organization.
The people at Investa and their dedication to see the business succeed, he said, is what kept him going.
“I care about people,” MacDonald said. “When I do something, I try to make sure that everybody benefits and that it’s the right thing to do. Otherwise, I don’t do it.”
Having worked in the real estate industry for more than 40 years, MacDonald has served as CEO or president of five operating companies.
MacDonald served as chairman and CEO of Investa from 2008 until 2013. He continued as chairman until March 2016, when he stepped down and the company was sold.
“I didn’t leave until the company was out of trouble,” he said.
Over the years MacDonald developed specialized expertise in corporate management and leadership, as well as formulating and executing corporate repositioning.
From a young boy growing up in Chicago, to a struggling college student and factory worker, his book flashes back to key moments in his life that helped him develop the skills and strength needed to turn around Investa.
“There are really valuable lessons learned,” said MacDonald, who landed his first factory job at 18 years old. He continued to work in factories while earning his bachelor’s degree in political science from Indiana University. He went on to earn a master’s in city and regional planning from the University of North Carolina.
In addition to weaving his personal and professional stories together, MacDonald summarizes 25 key lessons learned during his career in corporate turnarounds.
“The true and tried solutions sometimes just don’t work,” he said. “You have to move far outside the box and take some chances or you’re going to fail.”
MacDonald started the book after stepping down as CEO. He also founded MacDonald Scholars, a program to pay full-time university students to help others through innovative and impactful community service projects.
“Saving Investa” is available on Amazon.com.
For more information on MacDonald, visit authorscottmacdonald.com. For more about MacDonald Scholars, visit macdonaldscholars.com.