Donald Thompson Embraces Multiple Talents

It is inspiring to see diversity in leadership. And without controversy, our iconic image Mr. Donald Thompson braved the corporate storm with such humility and grace. Even in his low moments, he continued to show substance in leadership.

Mission Possible

donald thompson
Donald Thompson, former CEO, McDonald’s.

Donald Thompson joined McDonald’s in 1990. His first assignment was to develop robotic equipment that will ease the transportation of food in customer services. He was also assigned to design control circuit for cooking. Which he did successfully.

Little did he know, that an invitation to put his engineering capabilities to test will land him a job of significant importance. And one that will soon make him one of the few black men to climb the corporate ladder. And become a Fortune 500 corporate executive. Including earning the first black Chief Executive Officer (CEO), status of the McDonald’s chain restaurants.

For Donald Thompson to be grafted into leadership, the company showed its commitment to support and value diversity at all levels. But most importantly, at  the helm of corporate leadership.

He was appointed CEO of McDonald’s in July 2012. Donald Thompson served in this capacity for three years. But had to step down from this position in 2014 amidst sales decline in the company due to some business decisions he took. Around this same period, there were rising low income protests by workers in the food chain industry across board. A tension that might have contributed to an overall industry performance.

At McDonald’s, Thompson was initiated into the company’s Black Career Development program meant to train all employees. He quickly rose through the ranks showing competence in leadership. He was appointed Project Manager and Staff Director after merely two of service and in 1992, he supervised the Quality Development department in this capacity.

Determined to even go further in the company, he spent some time in the operations department in 1994, learning first hand running of a typical McDonald’s restaurant as a floor manager. This training prepared him for his next big position. He become the regional manager for the San Diego, California area having 350 restaurants under his supervision in 1998.

Donald Thompson went on to become the  Chief Operations Officer (COO), of all United States restaurants. He was responsible for the business  performance of almost 14000 restaurants. Donald Thompson was also instrumental for directing the global strategy and operations of McDonald’s establishments in 119 countries which consists of over 33000 restaurants.

Since he started his career as a mechanical engineer at McDonald’s, Donald Thompson held many other corporate positions before becoming CEO. Which includes executive vice president and divisional president at different levels.

Donald Thompson earned his Bachelor of Science degree at the Perdue University in 1984. The university had since awarded him with its Outstanding Electrical and Computer Engineering Award. And has included him as a fellow of its prestigious Perdue University Old Master Fellowship.

He is honored with a masters degree from the Excelsior College and serves on the board of Exelon Corporation. He also serves on the board of directors of on several companies including the Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

There are speculations that, McDonalds is in the process of employing Donald Thompson as a consultant after his resignation in 2014. This has however not been confirmed by the restaurant giant.

He lives with his wife and two children.

Lessons from Donald Thompson

Using our talents effectively provide us with a successful livelihood. We must all strive to maintain high standards and believe, that we are capable of accomplishing our mission in life. However making both smart knowledge based and intuitive business decisions, are critical in asserting business authority and growth.


Photo Credits: huffingtonpost.com/ pressherald.com

Enoch Antwi is the managing editor of CEIimages Magazine. He is an accomplished writer, a marketer, a journalist and a thinker. He is a resourceful team player marketing business and entrepreneurship ideas that propel market penetration and advances Return on Investments (ROI'S) for businesses. His passion is to provide on-demand valuable information and insights on business, entrepreneurship, leadership, innovative technologies and principles for corporate success in today's business world. View all posts by

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