I really want to know more about Jim Skinner, the current CEO of McDonald’s. Here’s all we get from this article in Saturday’s NYT:
Mr. Skinner, who worked briefly at McDonald’s in high school before joining the Navy, decided to join the chain permanently after a fellow sailor gave him the idea. After he was discharged from the Navy, Mr. Skinner found a job in 1971 as a McDonald’s management trainee.
He rose steadily through the ranks, eventually overseeing operations in Europe and Asia, the Middle East and Africa. He was the company’s vice chairman — at the time one of the top three executive positions — before being named chief executive.
He says restaurant experience is invaluable for McDonald’s executives because they learn the “fear of failure.”
“They know they have to perform,” he says. “You don’t get a bye because you walked in off the street and went to Harvard.”
You don’t get a bye! It’s true. But you do have to be careful of making loaded generalizations. How many Harvard grads (who are unlike Michael Gates Gill, the former ad exec whose live was saved by Starbucks) work (or aspire to work) at McDonald’s? Or is Skinner admonishing Harvard grads for being bad McDonald’s employees, or for thinking they’re entitled to a more flawless cheeseburger? Is that a workable business philosophy?
In any case, I saw a little boy nibbling at a McDonald’s hamburger on the train the other day and was arrested by the most intense wave of nostalgia. I guess that’s why the company’s stock is at $60.07 and I remain a “vegetarian.”