Here's What You Have To Know About The Electrical Engineer Who's About To Take Over McDonald's

don thompson mcdonalds

Photo: AP

McDonald’s CEO Jim Skinner is retiring later this year, and president and COO Don Thompson will be replacing him.So who’s this new guy who’s taking the reigns of the world’s largest restaurant chain?

He’s the 12th ever black CEO of a Fortune 500 company, and he rose all the way through the corporate hierarchy to get there.

Thompson began his career at McDonald’s as a “restaurant system engineer” (an electrical engineer) in 1990 and worked his way through the ranks. Previously, he was an engineer at defence contractor Northtrop.

Later, he was promoted to EVP and innovation orchestration leader of McDonald’s Restaurant Solutions Group, where he and his crew oversaw McDonald’s innovation pipeline. In the role of president and COO he oversaw the strategic direction and day-to-day operations of the global business, which includes around 33,000 restaurants.

Thompson’s the one you can thank for a variety of new menu items such as the Snack Wrap. Also, he was the “go-to strategist” for McDonald’s McCafé expansion — an important part of the chain’s global plan.

That’s a lot of business savvy for a guy whose only academic degree is a B.S. in electrical engineering from Purdue University (though he received an honorary doctorate from Excelsior College as well).

How’s Thompson going to perform? Skinner seems wholly confident in him:

“Don Thompson is well prepared for the CEO role, and under his leadership, our company will continue to meet the needs of our 68 million customers around the world every day. With Don at the helm, I am extremely confident in the future of McDonald’s.”

And so does Oppenheimer:

“We believe Mr. Thompson is an excellent choice to carry forward the principles Mr. Skinner grounded. Don Thompson has been with MCD 22 years, was President of USA from 2006 to 2010 and has been COO ever since. The departure of Mr. Skinner has no impact on our investment thesis or outlook for fundamentals.”

NOW SEE: 12 McDonald’s Menu Items That Failed Spectacularly >

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