Oak Brook, Ill. — April 6
The Golden Arches celebrated a golden anniversary Tuesday.
McDonald’s Hamburger University (HU) turned 50 years old. Tuesday kicked-off a year-long celebration for the company.
What started out in a basement in Elk Grove Village, Ill., with 15 graduates has stretched across the globe with seven campuses in five continents with more than 275,000 graduates.
President and Chief Operating Officer Don Thompson said he can’t think of another college or university that reaches as far and as wide as HU does.
“As much as HU focuses on helping students understand operations, helping them learn how to recruit and retain employees and figure out what it takes to successfully manage a multi-million dollar business, there is a lot more that happens when students are here,” Thompson said. “Somewhere along the way, people begin to feel that they are truly a part of the McDonald’s culture and that’s part of something that’s so much bigger than they are alone. That’s the power of HU.”
Globally, HU has 64 full-time professors. In some countries, college credit can be given for courses taken at HU.
Thirty-eight years ago, Jeff Stratton, executive vice president and chief restaurant officer, started off as a crew member in his hometown in Detroit, Mich., and said HU was the “inspired answer” to how to unite thousands of entrepreneurs under one roof, how to operate thousands of restaurants with one system and how to deliver a consistent experience to every customer.
“Our Hamburger Universities are all about the system,” Stratton said emphasizing the “three-legged stool” of franchisees, suppliers and employees – the McDonald’s operating system.
“Skeptics laughed at first,” Stratton said. “But we made them believers because we believed in the system far more than they did.”
That system helped spawn more than 32,000 locations with more than 64 million customers being served every day. But in addition to customer service and thousands of locations, HU launched in Hamburger University Shanghai in February 2010, with a goal of expanding in China.
With all the different campuses, across different cultures and geographical locations, McDonald’s decided to “unify and contemporize the HU brand,” as Chris Lyons, vice president for worldwide training, learning and development said.
“[The logo is] something simple, bold and powerful,” Lyons said. “It happens to represent the learning around the world, a new unifying HU brand.”
Natalie Morera is an associate editor of Chief Learning Officer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org