“Being a McDonald’s employee can be the launching pad to a wide variety of opportunities”. So reads the fast-food chain’s website.
Last week, the company announced it had given the biggest opportunity of all to a Brit, Steve Easterbrook, who has been appointed its new global chief executive.
I mostly use female role models to advise women on their careers, but for once I have found a man to do the job.
Mr Easterbrook started his McCareer in 1993, but let us start even further back in his life. Bearing in mind the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission’s 2014 report, which lamented the severe over-representation of those educated at independent schools and Oxbridge among our political and business leaders, Mr Easterbrook’s schooling at state-funded Watford Grammar School for Boys is worth noting. He later took a degree in natural sciences at Durham and played cricket for the university.
As a headhunter, I like all these things: a state school, a Russell Group university, a Stem (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) degree, and a sports career while studying — what I call a third-dimension activity. What he did next is even better. Mr Easterbrook went and qualified as an accountant with PwC.
I am known for my almost obsessive views on accountancy. But in this instance it is also the big brand that will have helped him land the financial reporting job at McDonald’s.
All these are good things for a man to have on his CV and even more powerful if you are a women battling career prejudice.
And don’t make the mistake of thinking that, as a bean counter and a man, Mr Easterbrook was shielded from working behind the counter and in the kitchens.
Not only that, but he also took on a new third-dimension activity, becoming a visiting fellow of the Oxford University Centre for Corporate Reputation in 2008.
His next move would help him even further. He left McDonald’s briefly to run PizzaExpress and then Wagamama, before rejoining the company. Since his appointment, some commentators have said McDonald’s should have appointed a chief from outside; but he has been outside, having worked for three other companies.
I hope his example will encourage others — especially women — to apply to good universities, study Stem subjects, get professional qualifications, work their way up a company’s ranks, leave and return, and combine this with a third dimension activity or two.
Mr Easterbrook was famous during his time as the boss of McDonald’s UK for tackling head-on the negative perceptions of a ‘McJob’.
His appointment should show us that every McJob has the potential to become a McCareer, facilitated by an inspiring CV.
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