Behind the Scenes of an Inspiring 30+ Year Leadership Career at McDonald’s

It seems to be as rare as a Michael Jordan rookie card.

Hardly anyone has worked in the same organization for over 30 years. From 16 years old? Who do this ? Who spends more than 30 years in a company in a multitude of roles – in different cities and countries – and is still young enough to easily work another 25 years?

Also, who spends a lot of time in the learning and development space and then leads a country? In fact, two countries?

Dan Camp is currently McDonald’s General Manager for the Czech Republic and Slovakia. He’s not even 50, but he’s had a lifetime of work experiences that many of us would be jealous of, all at one company: McDonald’s.

where it all started

It all started in 1988 when he and his mother were lining up at their local McDonald’s to buy dinner. When the meal was over, the restaurant manager offered them both jobs. Camp would spend his summer working with his mother – a remarkable experience, for sure.

“We were both hired that day,” he said, “with no intention of working there before coming in, and it turned into about three months of getting up every morning with my mother at 4:00 in the morning.”

I don’t think Camp cares about this summer with his mother. What has since happened is a career of enriched experiences, fulfilling career breaks, and professional growth in spades. (Or, maybe in potatoes.)

While in college, Camp debated whether he should become a journalist or a television reporter. During these years, he continued to work at McDonald’s and eventually decided to pursue a full-time position after graduation.

“I worked my way up,” Camp said. From assistant manager to general manager to supervising several restaurants, he finally came to an inflection point. Is he planning to own a franchise or does he work for the corporate side of McDonald’s?

University of Hamburg

He chose to work for the company.

Camp spent nearly five years in one of those corporate roles as the U.S. National Education Manager at the University of Hamburg. “Hamburger U or HU”, as it is affectionately known, is a venerable leadership and skills development institution.

But it has not always been so.

“When it opened decades ago,” Camp remarked, “it was more about hands-on training.” Hamburger University focused more on the tactile skills of assembling a milkshake machine, troubleshooting ovens, learning about food costs, product waste, and the meaning of profit and loss. losses.

“Hamburger U’s transition was toward those transferable leadership skills that really work in any situation,” Camp said.

Today, Hamburger University is brimming with facilitators and faculty, many of whom grew up in restaurants, now facilitating leaders at all levels from all walks of McDonald’s life in all facets of leadership development. .

Camp believes this hands-on experience — with facilitators experienced in McDonald’s restaurant culture — is key to teaching not only leadership and teamwork, but also the history of McDonald’s itself.

Participants take part in a one-year program including a major capstone project at the headquarters of the University of Hamburg. As a result, development becomes an immersive experience for all participants.

“Franchise owners and managers know that even though they’re operating a restaurant in the middle of Nebraska, they’re part of a global story and brand,” Camp said. Especially since the participants come from everywhere.

The impact

You could say that Hamburger University is part of a much larger culture at McDonald’s, a critical part of the company’s success.

“If you’re ever on LinkedIn, if you ever meet people who graduated from that capstone class at Hamburger University,” Camp said, “they’re really inspired and they just want to, you know, rule the world. “

“We really have decades and decades of people who – when I mention that I work at McDonald’s – have some kind of contact or know someone who went to Hamburger University, and their whole careers are changed by it. “

After spending nearly five years helping teach future and current McDonald’s leaders to be better leaders, Camp sat down and developed his four fundamental leadership principles as follows:

  • Innovation – Driving change to improve business results. I challenge others to question the best ways to plan and execute business initiatives. I simplify strategy and scale for results.
  • Inspiration – An inspiration to others through my words and actions. I will challenge others to do more than they thought possible.
  • Affecting – Positively influence members of the system, regardless of rank or position, as well as those in the industry and my community.
  • Inclusion – Work to promote a culture of diversity and inclusion in all teams I have an impact on.

Continued success

His experience at Hamburger University then propelled him into various leadership roles across the United States, including being responsible for 700 restaurants in the Southwest.

Dan Camp is now the managing director of two countries, in countries where he is learning the language, while using his four fundamental leadership principles – and everything he learned and developed at Hamburger University – to improve lives. others.

“One day when I leave the company,” he said, “if people say ‘the guy was a good mentor, a good leader, and constantly taught us what was important at home and in the world. ‘business’ is good enough for me.”

For anyone who needs to hear it, your life can be rewarding by sticking with an organization if you let it.

And for anyone in the learning and development space, let Dan Camp be a lesson: you, too, can earn an L&D degree and have a rewarding career, making a difference in people’s lives in a variety of ways.

Watch the interview in its entirety below. Check podcast version here.


Check out my bookLead. Care. To earn. How to become a leader who matters.” Thinkers50 #1 ranked thinker, Amy. C. Edmondson of Harvard Business School calls it “an invaluable roadmap.”

About Robert Moody

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