One of the most interesting things about my recent trip to Chicago and McDonald's headquarters was getting a chance to meet the people behind the scenes. You may not know this but my very first job was at McD's and I still value my experience there. I learned about hard work, process, team work and discipline. Just like those days at the front lines the people I met amazed me with their dedication and commitment to the McDonald's brand, its legacy and vision for the future.
So, I wanted to introduce you to a few of the people I met. These people who decide on McDonald's strategy and run the business around the world are surprisingly diverse and definitely passionate. I found these three to be incredibly interesting and inspiring in different ways. These are just three regular people like you and me who bring something unique to the McDonald's experience. Bob Langert is committed to utilizing McDonald's influence to create positive change in the world, Jose Armario worked his way from humble beginnings to country manager and Mary Dillon is a working mother of four. Read below and see for yourself!
Bob Langert, Corporate VP Social Responsibility
There are a few things that I instantly liked about Bob. One, he is tall. I know, it's irrelevant but being a tall woman I appreciate it when someone else is tall. The second thing is that in this sea of reporters and other unknowns he took the time to introduce himself to me and tell me a bit about himself. And the third thing is that his job as Head of Corporate Responsibility is change. Like BIG change. Check out McDonald's 2008 Worldwide Social Responsibility Report that highlights efforts toward responsible food for a sustainable future.
I was amazed that McDonald's was so committed to social responsibility. It makes sense but you don't often think McDonald's when you think of environmentalism or the like. However, Bob recently spent time in the Amazon representing McDonald's and working with Greenpeace to try and develop a plan to help control the destruction of the rainforests from soy farming. Check out the video of his journey here:
Jose Armario, Group President - Canada and Latin America
I spent an evening at the same table with Jose and got a chance to know his story. What a success story it is. He moved to the U.S. (Miami) as a small child escaping from Cuba. His mom worked multiple jobs in order to provide for her two sons. As Jose grew up he too worked hard to get an education and work his way up the ladder in the food industry.
I was very impressed by Jose's strong work ethic and life experience. He spoke openly and with great pride of his family and his humble beginnings. Now a father of four, Jose has been with McDonald's for 13 years and is inspired by the people he works with and being a part of them reaching their dreams.
Mary Dillon, Corporate Executive VP - Global Chief Marketing Officer
Now Mary was someone I was really interested in meeting. She is a working mother of four kids ranging in age from 10 to 18 years old. When I got a chance to speak to Mary in Chicago I wanted to know whether she actually walked-the-walk. Was she eating and feeding her family McDonald's and if so how often? Her response surprised me. She said that she completely believes in the quality of the product and eats McDonald's 6 days a week. Her kids? They eat McD's at least 3 to 4 times per week. Yup. I asked whether her children were overweight (btw, she definitely is not) and she answered "no". She explained that they are active and they eat a variety of foods both at McDonald's and elsewhere. The combination of moderation, variety, and an active lifestyle seem to work against the theory that fast food causes obesity. Food for thought? Definitely.
Rob Chiasson, Regional VP - Western Canada
Now this is amazing. Rob has been with McDonald's for 30 years! I mean, I'm not going to ask or anything but the guy looks pretty young. I am sure this must have been one of his first jobs and now he's head of Western Canada. Cool.
Rob has had the pleasure of not only seeing most of Canada as a McDonald's employee but also visiting places such as Turkey, Thailand, and Singapore. He shared with me an experience he had which reinforced in him how precious and wondrous life is. Rob was working in Thailand in 2004 when the Tsunami hit. Here is his story:
There was a McDonald’s restaurant located right across the street from a beach. When the tsunami hit, the restaurant wasn't yet open for business but crew and managers were there getting ready for the day. Once the Tsunami hit it was a frantic scene with staff climbing to the roof to avoid the 7-foot deluge of water that entered the restaurant. The destruction was unbelievable - picture motorcycles on the front counter and cement outdoor furniture swept into the kitchen.
Once I heard the news, I traveled to the restaurant. I met with staff and soon learned everyone had their possessions destroyed and some lost family members. One staff person I spoke to lost 7 members of her family that morning. At McDonald’s, we have an assistance program that provides financial and emotional support for employees in crisis. Once I learned what possessions they lost, we replaced everything to help them get back on their feet. This reinforced to me that while McDonald’s is large in scope, we're a people company that cares about every person that works in our restaurants.