John Betts, president and CEO of McDonald’s Restaurants Canada, came to Sauder this week to share his experience transforming the company's brand, and to connect with students and answer their questions.
He talked about his career path, which began when he was a university student working part-time at McDonald’s; he said half of McDonald’s owner-operators also started out as crew people.
Betts became president and CEO of the Canadian business in 2008, as the company was lagging behind its competitors in terms of growth. He told the audience at Sauder that a big part of speeding up growth was the introduction of McCafé, which they marketed by giving away coffee for free – a move that was featured on CBC’s The National at the time. “It re-connected us with Canadians,” Betts said.
Betts only spoke for about 20 minutes before opening the floor to questions for the rest of the hour-long session, as he responded to queries about key business strategies, challenges he faces in his job, and how he got to where he is today.
“One of the greatest things I’ve learned is the importance of listening,” he said. “And what do you do when you really listen? You take action.”
Ian Christie & John Betts
Ian Christie, director of graduate career services at Sauder’s Hari B. Varshney Business Career Centre, says that hearing from high-profile speakers is an important part of the education of Sauder students, and can be very helpful as they choose a career path.
“Seeing how a role model like Betts thinks, and responds to their questions, can be inspirational,” Christie says. “For many of our students, advice they get from top business leaders will stick with them for many years to come.”