Ketchup in his veins

ANY parent who’s said “you won’t get anywhere in life flipping burgers” could be completely wrong.

Aged 30, Bruce Davis is one of the youngest State managers in the history of McDonald’s Australian operations. The only other member of senior management to have achieved this is the current CEO.

Mr Davis started his career at McDonald’s Australia aged 16, working on the ground level at the East Victoria Park outlet. He said McDonald’s was a very grassroots-orientated organisation, with 50 per cent of senior management starting as crew.

“I was flipping patties, running drive-through, cleaning the dining room and doing lot and lobby,” Mr Davis said.

“McDonald’s put me through a scholarship program and helped fund me through university. I did a double degree in commerce law for a four-year period. During that time, I did shifts as a relief manager around the metropolitan area.

“At the conclusion of my studies the company offered me an opportunity to work at our head office in Sydney. But because I’d known McDonald’s since the age of 16, I decided to look for other opportunities and joined the chartered accounting practice Ernst & Young.

“I did my professional year studies – a post-graduate qualification for the Australian Chartered Accountants Institute – and by that time, I was looking to travel. The person from McDonald’s who was my mentor during the scholarship called me out of the blue and offered me a newly created position in Melbourne. That was nine years ago.”

During that time, Mr Davis had stints in the US and Asia, working in the accounts- finance area, then as general manager. He moved to Perth 18 months ago.

“Moving into general management involved going back to the stores, becoming assistant manager, then store manager, then operations supervisor – supervising four company-run stores – then I had to become a franchise consultant because two thirds of our business is franchise,” he said.

“Becoming general manager gave me exposure to all aspects of the business including public relations, state marketing, national marketing, store development, real estate, distribution and purchasing. This is stimulating because no two days are the same.”

Mr Davis said McDonald’s was not about selling hamburgers – it’s about people.

“Hamburgers are the medium but the business is the people because we’re a franchising business first and foremost,” he said.

“We only select business people who have been successful independent operators in their own right, and combined with a winning formula, they can’t fail.”

Some of McDonald’s most successful product development has been undertaken by franchisees. Chicken McNuggets and the Fillet ‘o’ Fish are examples.

McDonald’s has been in Australia for 29 years. Per head, Australia has more outlets than the US. Australian store operations have set the benchmark for McDonald’s outlets worldwide.

WA is the most competitive market in Australia. The corporation has one QSR (quick service restaurant) for every 4,500 people in WA. As a rule, Western Australians spend more money eating out per head of population than the rest of the country – by almost 250 per cent.

“This is great State for growth because our client base is used to eating out,” he said.

And the next step for Mr Davis? Becoming CEO could be a possibility given his rapid rise up the ranks.

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