Advancing from crew member to corporate executive or franchisee is a common career path at McDonald’s Corp.  Twenty out of 50 of McDonald’s senior officials started out in the restaurants, as did 1,200 owner-operators and some 67,000 restaurant managers and assistant managers.
One reason that McDonald’s is able to retain such people is the training it offers, said Shirley Chang, vice president of worldwide training, learning and development for the chain of more than 30,000 restaurants. Chang speaks from personal experience. She began as a part-time hourly employee in McDonald’s first restaurant in Taiwan in 1983. That same year the chain completed a $40 million training facility in its headquarters city of Oak Brook, Ill., for Hamburger University, its program to train restaurant managers and franchisees. Years later, Chang helped establish a Hamburger U. in Hong Kong. Today there are also training centers in Australia, Germany, Japan, England and Brazil.
You were already a nurse. Why did you apply for a job at McDonald’s?
My youngest sister saw an advertisement, and she asked me to go with her. People lined up for two blocks. We waited for two hours. When we got the application forms, I filled one out since I had spent two hours waiting.
Why did you stay with McDonald’s?
Every day I’d see people light up for a hamburger. It was so exciting. Then the hospital wanted to get me into leadership training. I went to my manager and told him I wanted to give back my uniform. He said, “Why don’t you consider joining us? You are a great person. You can do great at McDonald’s.” They offered me a full-time job as a manager trainee. I was so scared at the beginning. But I would receive training and then get promoted. That’s how I go from knowing nothing to becoming an expert in running the restaurant.
Did you ever regret leaving nursing?
For me, no. For my parents, yes. Later, when I was going to leave McDonald’s [temporarily] to obtain my MBA, my parents said, “Why?” That validated my career with McDonald’s. At McDonald’s we are so proud of being a sponsor of dreams come true. It’s not only Shirley, it’s a lot of people like me who experienced the opportunity to grow from crew person. Our company philosophy is [that] we see people [as] very valuable to our business.