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February/March 2012

Diversity/Careers February/March 2012 Issue




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Managing

Jesse Mathews III is "lovin' it" at McDonald's, USA

He leads the back-office strategy shift from a legacy home-grown system to a next-gen cloud-based environment


Jesse Mathews III is a senior director in the IT department at McDonald's Corporation (Oak Brook, IL). He works with three internal customer groups: training, learning and development (TL&D), U.S. operations, and U.S. supply chain, and leads mission-critical development and support initiatives.

Each one, he says, "is focused on improving restaurant operations and the lives of our restaurant managers and franchisees every day. The systems have to be simple and easy to use so the managers have more time to focus on our crew and customers!"

Shifting to Web-based programs
The back-office strategy, Mathews explains, "will move us from a legacy, home-grown system to a commercial, cloud-based environment that will optimize and streamline operation and management of the restaurants.

"The learning management system supports an initiative that revolutionizes the restaurant management structure, training curriculum and technology tools at McDonald's. Targeted training for the restaurant managers will improve how they do their jobs, and let them spend more time with their staff. And a new supply-chain ordering system we recently deployed across the U.S. helps make sure the correct amount of burgers, fries and anything else they need are in every restaurant when they're needed."

Three direct reports and a team
Mathews has two directors and one senior manager reporting to him. They're responsible for a team of fifty people who handle testing, design and development of systems that support the U.S. "Plan To Win," the company's roadmap for everything it does. "My top priority is our people," Mathews says. "Without them, we can't accomplish our goals and remain the industry leader."

Growing up in Florida
Growing up in the small town of Mulberry, FL, Mathews was a starter in both sports and academics. He played baseball and football in high school and graduated with honors. He was also president of the school's and the district's National Honor Society.

"During my junior year I started taking computer classes," Mathews remembers. "I was fascinated. As kids we were more focused on computer games, but I also looked at the practical applications and became intrigued with the ability to see results in pretty short order.

"It was something that stretched me mentally and I thought it would be something I could do to earn a very good living!"

In 1988 Mathews graduated from Florida A&M University with honors and a BS in CIS with a minor in business admin. "I got a great education plus the opportunity to have a three-month internship with Amoco to exercise my skills and learn new ones," he says.

Starting off at Amoco
During his internship at Amoco Mathews created a reporting system using Focus, a fourth-gen language. "Everything I had done until that time was in third-gen languages like Cobol so it was a great experience. The customers were great and my boss was very cool, very supportive, and gave me lots of opportunities to stretch myself. That really confirmed that I made the right decision in my career choice. Amoco was a great company with a great reputation on campus."

After graduation he joined Amoco as a programmer. "I started working on a reporting and financial system using the Focus language I had picked up earlier, so that paid off handsomely."

After two years he started thinking about project management, and by 1991 he had become a project manager, supporting marketing retail systems and point-of-sale systems in gas stations. "I worked with our software vendors to design, test and deploy the software systems," he says.

He enjoyed project management so much that he went on to earn a 1999 graduate certificate in the discipline from DePaul University (Chicago, IL).

One of his proudest accomplishments at Amoco was helping his team create the Amoco retail systems network. "Instead of using a third-party system to perform the entire credit and debit card process, we built our own components that integrated with credit and debit card processors," Mathews explains with pride.

Branching out
Mathews left Amoco when it merged with BP in 1999. He spent almost two years with the Chicago office of Premier, Inc (Charlotte, NC), a group purchasing organization for the healthcare industry. "I was a program manager, responsible for development and implementation of a new contract management system. It was a small company and those eighteen months were invaluable in preparing me for McDonald's," Mathews says.

"When I got to McDonald's I was able to leverage pretty much everything I learned at Amoco and Premier. Those experiences definitely helped me by teaching me how to manage multiple initiatives and business users effectively. Sometimes we have to take a lateral move to develop our skills and Premier gave me that opportunity."

McDonald's at last
Mathews has been at McDonald's since 2001. He feels he's been recognized for his ability to drive collaboration, lead change and deliver results that positively impact the business.

In addition to his IT responsibilities he's also the Oak Brook chair for McDonald's African American Council (MA2C). "I've been a part of MA2C since 2004," he says. "We focus on ensuring that the value, efforts and results from African Americans are part of the McDonald's success story.

"McDonald's embraces diversity," he notes. "We want to make sure we respect people on both sides of the counter. We value diversity from the crew room to the board room." Mathews is also Corporate Advisory Council (CAC) co-chair for the Chicago chapter of Black Data Processing Associates (BDPA).

Looking forward
What comes next may already be in the works. Mathews explains that McDonald's talent management and succession planning program looks at employee potential for a move to that next level. His personal goal? He's hoping to make VP, hopefully within the next five to seven years.

D/C



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