How McDonald’s Helps its People Bring Out Their Best

July 23, 2021

Joy Lin is on her way at McDonald’s. After just a few years with the company, she’s making noticeable gains in her field – Technology – and earning recognition for her work above and beyond her job. In her short time here, she’s won two awards, launched two software education projects and created a department team devoted to acting on the company’s Core Values.

As Joy puts it, “I take initiative, I reach out and I get stuff done.”

We sat down with Joy to learn about her enthusiasm for growing and improving professionally every day, and how McDonald’s career resources have supported her journey.

It seems like you have a natural affinity for networking and enjoy being a “connector.” How have networks at McDonald’s helped you grow your career?

I do enjoy being a “connector,” and never used to consider it a strength. When I joined McDonald’s about two and a half years ago, I was nervous because McDonald’s was the largest company I had ever worked for, and I had only recently transitioned from my accounting career into the male-dominated field of technology. I was still relatively green to this new role and didn’t see very many people like myself among my immediate coworkers. I sometimes felt alone, despite working with great people every single day.

Eventually, I felt the urge to expand my connections beyond this small circle and explore what McDonald’s had to offer. Soon, I joined Employee Business Networks, and started meeting people with very different roles within the company. Through their personal and professional stories, I learned more about McDonald’s history, its operations, and other business insights.

Honestly, joining a McDonald’s employee business network (EBN) helped me tremendously.  By joining an EBN, I was able to plug into an existing network with a shared identity and purpose, and build relationships with people who were like me in some ways, but had unique experiences and perspectives. For me, it was the Global Women’s Leadership Network (GWLN) that originally piqued my interest. Notably, my first GWLN event celebrated women in technology and featured guest speakers from technology companies in the Chicagoland area. To hear from women leaders in technology gave me a positive outlook for my budding career.  

By staying engaged in GWLN, I was also able to participate in their Mentorship Circles, which helped me grow both professionally and personally. It was comforting to know I wasn't alone when I heard another person’s experience transitioning careers.  

After sharing my own stories with GWLN members, they helped me discover one of my strengths: the ability to connect with others. While I generally considered myself an extrovert, I didn’t think that much more of it. But when I was told I was a “connector” - spoken as if it was my superpower - I was able to look back in my life and find confirmation of my natural ability to build relationships.  The Mentorship Circles helped me shed light into my blind spots, discover further insight about myself and highlight avenues for potential growth. Ever since, I have leaned into this strength in my work, as well as in my volunteer activities and other pursuits.  I have been able to do so with greater confidence having heard the stories of other circle members and received their understanding, encouragement and advice.  I am very grateful for those experiences.

Congratulations on all your awards! Your managers clearly take notice of how you handle challenges and recognize opportunities. How is McDonald’s supporting your development as a leader?

Thank you!  I think one of the most important things McDonald’s has done in this regard is provide a good and healthy work environment that fosters leadership qualities in all its people. Leadership qualities can be exhibited by anyone, not just those who are direct managers.

McDonald’s has created a foundation of core company values that allow its people to internalize, align and take pride in themselves and their work. McDonald’s is a supportive environment where I can take initiative and volunteer in leadership roles outside of my day-to-day responsibilities, which has enabled me to hone my leadership skills. For instance, I recently had the opportunity to moderate virtual career panels for high school kids throughout the country.

With my technology career, I want to learn as much as I can about my field. I’m thankful McDonald’s has learning and development platforms, such as McDonald’s Campus, where employees can take online trainings at their own time and pace. I take advantage of any technology training that is offered by my department.

I’m also grateful for my department leadership’s support. As my interests in different areas grew, my leadership was understanding, and provided the support and encouragement in developing skills that I wanted to work on. They advised me to “stick my neck out” and “take smart risks.”  And when I came up short, they comforted me and helped reframe my challenges and mistakes as valuable nuggets of wisdom. This process has given me more confidence in myself to keep moving forward.

As a coach and mentor yourself, what is your advice for others starting (or hoping to start) a career at McDonald’s?

First, be yourself, but continue working towards becoming your “best self.”

Second, there is more than one path to success.  Leverage your strengths to find your way.

Lastly, try to maintain a growth mindset where you push yourself beyond your comfort zone and continue to learn and adapt to changes. With the right knowledge and support it might not be as scary, and you will find the courage to venture forward into the unknown.  If you’re not sure where to start, volunteer in new activities and build relationships with people different from yourself.

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