As a lawyer by background and working for more than 25 years in executive positions in finance & wealth management, David McLellan undertook our Executive Degree in Advocacy in International Affairs & Policy to pursue a new career in bringing about positive change in complex global systems.
He is now fulfilling his dream as an independent business and legal consultant, working with NGOs and others in the medical and humanitarian field as well as in marine conservation on various issues relating to strategic change, process and operational management, governance and legal advisory.
You had a very successful career in the private sector for 25 years. Why did you decide to change your career path?
I was fortunate enough to achieve most of what I had set out to do in the private sector, ultimately becoming the Global CEO of a well-known financial intermediary and the Managing Partner of an international private client law firm. However, maybe with age and seeing the world through the eyes of my two teenage daughters, I felt an ever-heightening concern that we are living in a world faced with the triple planetary crisis of climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss met by social injustice and access to health being at alarming levels. I wanted to do my share and apply my expertise towards helping these causes. While I had previously spent many years volunteering, doing pro-bono legal work for NGOs and raising money for charity, the onset of COVID was the final catalyst for me to want to change career and try to help influence positive social, political and environmental change.
Why did you choose the Geneva Graduate Institute, and the Advocacy programme, to achieve your goal?
I felt that I needed to better understand the world of policy and advocacy and gain insight into international relations and global mechanisms of governance and influence. The Geneva Graduate Institute has a renowned reputation in international relations, diplomacy and advocacy, with an impressive faculty and many distinguished alumni. The Advocacy programme offered relevant applied knowledge and access to expert professors and practitioners and was complementary to my previous experience in business and law. Retrospectively, it has proven to be an excellent choice for acquiring the requisite knowledge, personal experience and network.
What can we wish you for the future?
I am still not yet where I would like to be, but I feel very privileged to be able to pursue this new path and hope that further opportunities arise where I can apply my previous experience with a newly gained skillset – and, importantly, better practical awareness – to help make a difference.
Want to learn more about our Executive Degrees in Advocacy in International Affairs? Visit the programme page.