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Chris Kempczinski Named McDonald's CEO in Leadership Shakeup


New McDonald's CEO Chris Kempczinski.

In a surprise announcement on Sunday night, McDonald’s said that Chris Kempczinski would take over as president and CEO of McDonald’s global operation immediately. 

Kempczinski served as president of McDonald’s USA since 2017 and was a corporate executive at the company overseeing strategy, business development and innovation. He has been instrumental in many of the recent brand update efforts including a major update in operational updates and the modernization efforts that brought kiosks, digital menu boards, delivery and mobile order and pay. 

Prior to his McDonald’s life, he worked at PepsiCo, Kraft and Proctor & Gamble and came up in the Boston Consulting Group. He holds a Harvard MBA and graduated from Duke University. According to a fact sheet from McDonald’s, he eats the company ice cream every day. 

"I'm thrilled to be leading this incredible company. Working alongside our talented team, our board, our franchisees and suppliers, I am committed to upholding our rich heritage of serving our customers and driving value for our shareholders and other stakeholders," Kempczinski said in a press release. 

According to the board, Steve Easterbrook "violated company policy and demonstrated poor judgment involving a recent consensual relationship with an employee." Easterbrook was the face of the company’s major recent transformations. Since Easterbrook took over as CEO in 2015, the company stock soared, growing by more than 120 percent. 

In an email to employees, he said that the relationship with an unnamed employee was a mistake. 

"As for my departure, I engaged in a recent consensual relationship with an employee, which violated McDonald’s policy. This was a mistake," wrote Easterbrook. The former CEO will keep his stock options, which amount to $37 million currently, and recieve a $675,000 severance. 

The stock slipped 4 percent Monday morning, but Kempczinski assured the company and investors that this wasn’t a big change in tactics, as he told the Wall Street Journal. 

"There isn’t going to be some radical, strategic shift. The plan is working," Kempczinski told the publication

Along with the CEO change, Kempczinski named Joe Erlinger to his former role as president of McDonald’s USA. 

"Our U.S. business is the heartbeat of McDonald's," wrote Erlinger in a press release. "I look forward to working with our franchisees to build upon the transformational progress in our largest market. With a talented team that is committed to running great restaurants, we have tremendous momentum to deliver on our brand promise to all of our customers."
In an email to employees, Kempczinski wrote that the company would hold a town hall this week to “start a conversation that will carry into 2020.” He wrote that this would be a place to share more about his perspective, his background and to have a dialogue with the global team he now leads. 

“I also want to thank Steve for his many contributions. Steve brought me into McDonald’s and he was a patient and helpful mentor. I wish him all the best in his future endeavors,” wrote Kempczinski. 

On Monday, a day after the CEO change, Kempczinski announced that chief people office David Fairhurst had also "departed," but the reason for the decision was unclear. 


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The latest news, opinions and commentary on what's happening in the franchise arena that could affect your business.

Laura MichaelsLaura Michaels is editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is senior editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3212, or send story ideas to bewen@franchisetimes.com.
Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is restaurants editor at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@franchisetimes.com.
Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at




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