Tarv Nijjar’s Career Success Story | Within the Arches
May 19, 2022
Tarv Nijjar has been many things: entrepreneur, DJ, business leader, dad.
Most recently, he’s become the Senior Director, Global Strategic Insights CX & AI at McDonald’s, where he oversees how McDonald’s influences the customer experience. It’s fair to say Tarv’s career has taken several turns – and we're thrilled he’s landed under the Golden Arches.
A Versatile Skillset and Diverse Career
Born in the UK, Tarv grew up working in his parents’ independent shop in Scotland. At 18, he moved to Edinburgh to study computer science at university – but he also took up a new hobby.
“I started DJing part-time,” he says. DJing, and music production, allowed him to use both the creative and analytic sides of his brain. And he wasn’t bad at it, either. “I eventually had five #1s in the BBC Asian World Charts,” Tarv says.
After university, Tarv took a job with a large, multinational corporation doing field sales. Part of his job involved selling chocolate to mom-and-pop shops, like his parents’. He eventually worked his way up to roles in global finance transformation and global digital transformation, before being named Artificial Intelligence lead for the entire corporation.
“I got to partner with some of the biggest names in AI,” he says.
In 2015, Tarv and his wife welcomed their first son. Around that time, Tarv’s friend asked why he hadn’t become an entrepreneur, like his father.
“He convinced me to follow in my father’s footsteps,” Tarv says. His venture of choice? A fish and chip shop just outside London called Oh My Cod!
“I ran that shop for four and a half years, until my second son was born,” Tarv says. “It was a very demanding job that kept me out of the house, and my family needed Dad at home.”
When it came time to evaluate his next steps, he considered whether to stay on with his current corporation or join McDonald’s. This time, he turned to his family for advice.
“I asked my sons whether they wanted me to work in candy or work in Happy Meals,” he says. “They chose Happy Meals.”
There were other factors that led him to McDonald’s, as well – such as the massive scale of the brand and its influence in communities worldwide.
“Every single person has a McDonald’s story,” Tarv says. “When I tell people I work for McDonald’s, they’re so excited to share what McDonald’s means to them.”
Tarv’s Time With McDonald’s
Nowadays, Tarv's days involve analyzing and transforming the McDonald’s customer experience – and he’s doing so while bringing his whole self to work.
Tarv was raised Sikh and has worn his hair in a turban for most of his life. This means that over the years, he’s had to explain his headwear to curious colleagues – and even defend his decision to keep his turban to well-meaning friends.
“Some of my friends feared for my safety,” he says. “They didn’t want me to face any discrimination. But I wanted to be my authentic self, including at work.”
This mindset has been one he’s maintained for years, and it will continue to influence how he shows up professionally. Tarv’s DJing career does look a bit different these days, though.
“The only DJing I’m doing now is playing Baby Shark for my boys,” he says.