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Leadership

Get to know: Steve Easterbrook

CEO, McDonald’s

Why Easterbrook? When he assumed the top post at McDonald’s Corp. on March 1, he brought to the job considerable experience in turnarounds and international market dynamics—two areas where his predecessor, Don Thompson, was spotty at best, critics say. While McDonald’s declined a request for an interview, the former prep-school lad’s past may reveal why he was chosen to lead the brand’s revival. steve easterbrook

Easterbrook, most recently chief brand officer, has the advantage over his outgoing boss of having worked for other restaurant companies, a quality suddenly prized by McDonald’s board. The United Kingdom native had brief stints as CEO of two brands with considerable U.K. presence, Pizza Express and Wagamama. 

Before and after, Easterbrook, age 47, was a McDonald’s man. He joined the chain’s U.K. operations in 1993 as financial reporting manager, and rose through a variety of jobs to head of McDonald’s U.K. in 2006, with responsibility for 1,200 restaurants.

He distinguished himself by leading a turnaround of that market, a sucking chest wound at the time for McDonald’s. Some of what’s being tried by McD’s today in the U.S. originated in Britain, including opening the concept’s kitchens to reassure consumers of the food’s wholesomeness, an outreach to mothers and participation in a sustainability project.

Since returning to the company in 2013, Easterbrook’s been credited with a global ad campaign, experimentation with upmarket stores in Australia and revamping parts of the U.S. menu. While the chain has been tight-lipped, chances are that more changes will come down the pipeline. 

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