“I’m not interested in hiding anything about myself,” declares Rachel McDonald.
“I didn’t try and lose my Manchester accent when I moved to London and I don’t try and be anybody other than who I am.”
McDonald is the newly appointed managing director of Fearless Adventures, which was founded by Dominic McGregor, David Newns and Charlie Yates and invests in rapidly scaling businesses in the eCommerce ecosystem.
She was previously the CEO of Dentsu North, overseeing more than 800 staff before stepping down in January 2021 for a spell of ‘gardening leave’.
Now she’s back with a basic promise – what you see is what you get.
The declaration prompts three admissions of varying degrees of importance.
“I’m a Man Utd fan but that won’t surprise you,” she says. “The second is that I love karaoke, especially duets. I like Stevie Nicks.”
However, it’s the third one that is the reason why she’s regularly contacted by women trying to combine their career with motherhood.
“I hate the term ‘part-time’,” she explains. “I’m not up for it but I’ve worked shorter hours since my first child was born and I still got promoted to CEO of Dentsu North during that time and was promoted to be MD of Carat when I was on maternity leave.”
McDonald has two sons, aged nine and 12, and works four days a week.
“It’s not a balance because I love my career but it gives me the time to achieve in the other areas of my life,” she says.
“It’s not held me back. I can’t tell you how many women have reached out to me and asked me about getting promoted while on maternity leave.
“I’ve never worried about being a woman and being pregnant. Maybe I was lucky with the bosses I had but I was never going to be on the back foot because of it.”
McDonald says she’s landed her dream job at Fearless Adventures after turning her back on a return to the agency world.
She first got to know McGregor from his days at Social Chain, which was situated next door to Dentsu’s offices in Portland Street, Manchester. “Over the years we used to collaborate on clients,” she recalls.
When she left Dentsu she was in her mid 40s and admits she was at a crossroads in her life.
“I’d been the MD of the best and biggest agency outside of London and I had to re-evaluate what I was going to do next,” she says.
It was while home schooling her two sons during the COVID-19 lockdown that she picked up the conversation with McGregor and she agreed to become managing director.
“There’s no lack of ambition at Fearless,” she says. “The three co-founders have all been successful entrepreneurs. We’ve got some really exciting developments and a really talented team.
“Within two weeks of launching we had 300 businesses inquire about funding. I continue to believe that we can grow really successful businesses in the region that we live in. I’m passionate about the North West and regional businesses in general. I love building something here.”
Fearless Adventures operate in the same sea as the likes of Praetura Ventures and Arete Capital Partners and, like them, there’s a big emphasis on being more than just money.
The fund has already made three investments and as well as the cash injection the investee companies get access to a range of services including finance, recruitment, social media, SEO and UX.
“I really do think I’ve found my perfect job,” says McDonald.