Ray W. MacDonald earned his MBA at Chicago Booth in 1935. As a student, MacDonald took a summer job demonstrating Burroughs equipment at the Chicago Century of Progress Exposition in 1933. Upon receiving his MBA, he joined the company as a salesman and climbed the corporate ladder via the company's overseas operation, rising to become chairman of the board and CEO. He is credited with having expanded the Burroughs Export Department into a major division of the firm and was early in recognizing the importance of underdeveloped nations for the American economy. Under his direction, Burroughs, long a respected name in accounting machines, calculators, and other office machines, became a leader in the field of electronic data processing equipment, pioneering such major techniques as microprogramming and virtual memory.
MacDonald served as a member of the Council on Chicago Booth, a director of the Committee for a National Trade Policy, and a trustee of the Manpower Institute. He also was a member of the British North American Committee, the Foreign Policy Committee, and the U.S. Council of the International Chamber of Commerce.