Don Thompson (executive)

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Don Thompson (executive)
Born Donald Thompson
(1963-03-30) March 30, 1963 (age 51)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Nationality American
Education Purdue University, 1984, B.S. (electrical engineering)
Occupation Electrical engineer, Northrop Grumman (1985-1990)
McDonald's Executive (1990-present)
CEO McDonald's Corporation, 2012-present

Donald 'Don' Thompson is an American engineer and business executive who is president and chief executive of the McDonald's Corporation.

Early life[edit]

Thompson, who was born in Chicago, grew up near the Cabrini–Green housing project.[1][2] A bright student who started the sixth grade at the age of ten, Thompson, due to the gang violence and crime that began to spread throughout the area in the late 1960s and 1970s, was later moved by his grandmother to live with relatives in Indianapolis, where he attended North Central High School.[1] Thompson is a graduate of Purdue University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in 1984 in electrical engineering.[3] He also holds an honorary doctorate from Excelsior College. Thompson is a Brother of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.[4]


Thompson is, by profession, an electrical engineer who joined McDonald's in 1990 after working for a fighter jet maker that is now part of Northrop Grumman. At McDonald's, Thompson designed robotic equipment for food transport and made control circuits for cooking.[5] Thompson received a call from a McDonald’s recruiter who was looking for an engineer to design "robotics, control circuitry and feedback loops". Although reluctant to take the job at first, he did accept an invitation to visit the McDonald's headquarters in suburban Chicago by an engineer working there. Soon after the visit, he was hired.[citation needed]

Having started his career at McDonald's in 1990, Thompson quickly rose on the corporate ladder. By 1992, he was promoted to Project Manager and Staff Director for the Quality Development department. He then switched over to Operations in 1994, and while there, decided to spend his first six months learning the basics on how to manage a 'McDonald's' restaurant, by working at a South Chicago restaurant, moving up from fry cook to shift manager, then assistant manager and then co-manager.[citation needed]

By 1998, Thompson was promoted to regional manager for the San Diego, California Region and oversaw 350 restaurants. He then was promoted to Senior Vice President of the Midwest Division, which he was responsible for the overseeing of 2,200 restaurants. A subsequent promotion resulted in his becoming president of the West Division, where he oversaw operations for 4,000 restaurants.[citation needed]

By January 2005, Thompson, now an Executive Vice President, began to serve as Chief Operations Officer (COO) of all US restaurants. On August 23, 2006, he became the President of McDonald’s USA and McDonald's Restaurants of Canada. In 2007, Thompson stepped into the role of Chief Operating Officer for the global corporation, and on July 1, 2012, he became President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of McDonald's Corp, succeeding outgoing CEO, the retiring Jim Skinner.[citation needed]

In addition to being President and CEO of McDonald's, Thompson serves on the board of directors of Ronald McDonald House Charities, Catalyst, and Northwestern Memorial Hospital. He is also a member of Purdue University's board of trustees.[3]

Awards and Honors[edit]

Thompson has been recognized for his leadership and passion by the following:[citation needed]

  • 2012 - Illinois Holocaust Museum - Humanitarian Award
  • 2010 - Executive Leadership Council - Corporate Award
  • 2008 - The Trumpet Foundation - Corporate Executive Award
  • 2007 - Black Enterprise - Corporate Executive of the Year


  1. ^ a b Smith, Bruce C. (March 23, 2012). "Purdue grad makes history as first black CEO at McDonald's". Indianapolis Star. Retrieved April 14, 2012.
  2. ^ Harris, Melissa (March 23, 2012). "New McDonald's CEO stays true to his roots". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved April 14, 2012.
  3. ^ a b "Don Thompson". Purdue University Board of Trustees. Purdue University. Retrieved 2015-01-03. 
  4. ^ Company profile
  5. ^ McDonald's new CEO Thompson a study in contrasts March 24, 2012 Reuters

External links[edit]

Business positions
Preceded by
Jim Skinner
CEO of McDonald's
Succeeded by