Don Thompson (executive)

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Don Thompson (executive)
Born Donald Cordell Thompson
(1963-12-14) December 14, 1963 (age 50)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Nationality American
Education Purdue University, 1985, B.S. (electrial engineering)
Occupation Electrical engineer, Northrop Grumman (1985-1990)
Executive, McDonald's Corporation, 1990-present and CEO McDonald's Corporation, 2012-present

Donald Cordell "Don" Thompson (born December 14, 1963) is the president and chief executive officer of McDonald's, succeeding Jim Skinner on June 30, 2012.[1][2]


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.[3] Thompson received a call from a McDonald’s recruiter who was looking for an engineer to design “robotics, control circuitry and feedback loops.” Though 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.

Starting 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 (QD) 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.

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 (VP) 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.

By January 2005, Thompson, now an Executive Vice President (VP), began to serve as both Chief Operations Officer (COO) and Head of National Marketing of all U.S. restaurants of the McDonald’s Corp. On August 23, 2006, he became the President of McDonald’s USA, and McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada. Finally on July 1, 2012, he became President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of McDonald’s Corp, succeeding the outgoing CEO, the retiring Jim Skinner.

Early life[edit]

Thompson, who was born in Chicago, grew up near the Cabrini–Green housing project.[4][5] 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.[4] Thompson is a graduate of Purdue University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in 1983 in electrical engineering. He also holds an honorary doctorate from Excelsior College. Thompson is a Brother of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.[2]

Family/Personal life[edit]

Thompson and his family live in suburban Oak Brook, Illinois, only a few miles from the Near North Side Chicago neighborhood where he was born.

Awards and Honors[edit]

Thompson has been recognized for his leadership and passion by the following:

  • 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. ^ Brown, Abram (Mar. 22, 2012). "McDonald's Innovative CEO Sets Retirement Date, Names Succcessor". Forbes.
  2. ^ a b Company profile
  3. ^ McDonald's new CEO Thompson a study in contrasts Mar 24, 2012 Reuters
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ Harris, Melissa (March 23, 2012). "New McDonald's CEO stays true to his roots". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved April 14, 2012.

External links[edit]

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