Professor Sir Jim McDonald joined Strathclyde University in 1984, following seven years in the power industry, and was appointed to the Rolls-Royce Chair in Electrical Power Systems in 1993. He became Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde in March 2009.
He chairs two of the pan-Scotland research pools in Engineering and Energy. He co-chairs - with the First Minister - the Energy Advisory Board. He is Chairman of the Independent Glasgow Economic Leadership Board and the Board of the Glasgow Science Centre. He is a Non-Executive Director of the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult Board, an Independent Director of Scottish Power Energy Networks Holdings and a Non-Executive Director of the Weir Group.
In the Queen's Jubilee Birthday Honours List on 16 June 2012, Professor McDonald was awarded a Knighthood for services to education, energy and the economy. In September 2013 Professor McDonald received the 'Outstanding Contribution as a Business Leader', recognition at The Herald's Inaugural Inspiring City Awards event. He is a fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Institution of Engineering and Technology, and the Institute of Physics.