John G. McLaughlin grew up in Redcastle, Co. Donegal and was educated at Carndonagh Community School and the Regional Technical College in Letterkenny. He graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering from University College Galway in 1986. He spent a short time working for University College Galway and Westmeath County Council before taking up an appointment in California, USA where he spent 13 years working in engineering and construction. He joined Donegal County Council in 1999 where he worked in the National Roads Office in Donegal Town at Executive Engineer and Senior Executive Engineer level. In 2001, he was appointed Director of Roads and Transportation and held that role until July 2020, when he took up the position of Chief Executive of Donegal County Council.