Magazine article Talent Development

A Hunger for Continuous Learning: Diana Thomas Discusses Her Career at McDonald's USA, Where She Has Richly Learned, Grown, and Succeeded-While Helping Many Others to Do the Same

Magazine article Talent Development

A Hunger for Continuous Learning: Diana Thomas Discusses Her Career at McDonald's USA, Where She Has Richly Learned, Grown, and Succeeded-While Helping Many Others to Do the Same

Article excerpt

Q You began your career with McDonald's more than 30 years ago. Please explain your career path within the company.

A I started my career as a restaurant crew member in the Baltimore area. From there I moved into restaurant management roles while I completed my undergraduate degree, and eventually advanced into the HR department. After holding a variety of regional and divisional positions, I moved to McDonald's headquarters as the dean of Hamburger University (HU), where I worked to align the six worldwide HUs. Then I proceeded into my current role in which I oversee a staff of 70 team members and provide direction to 22 regional training teams. During the past 10 years I earned both a master's degree and an MBA, and am so grateful for the many learning opportunities I've had, both professionally and personally.

Q What strengths have you relied on to grow in your career?

A Continuing to learn. By nature, I am a curious person, and I get jazzed by learning something new. I enjoy learning from others, especially the younger generation. My biggest teachers include my two Millennial daughters, as well as my very creative staff.

Staying connected to the business.

McDonald's, like most successful companies, relies on employees and leaders to help ensure the company is on the right track and is meeting the needs of our customers--both external and internal.

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Helping others to learn, grow, and succeed. This is one of my biggest passions. I am very excited that, in my current position, I have been able to bring more than 100 people onto my immediate team, more than half of whom returned to the field in higher level positions throughout the company.

Q Who has influenced you most in your career?

A From an early age, my dad gave me the confidence to believe I could do anything I wanted to do, as long as I was willing to work hard and stay committed. He has always been one of my biggest supporters.

I work in a company where people are very willing to share their knowledge with others. Some of the best advice I received was prior to moving out of a restaurant role when my operations manager told me: "Don't ever forget what it takes to make a hamburger and what the restaurant employees do and need. …

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