New In The Job - Managing Director, McDonalds NZ

McDonalds New Zealand has taken on 'fast-food veteran' Patrick Wilson as their new Managing Director.

Patrick Wilson - Managing Director of McDonalds NZ

What’s the appointment? Patrick Wilson has been appointed as Managing Director for McDonalds New Zealand.

What kind of work does the role require? Patrick will be working among New Zealand’s senior management team at McDonalds, which is partnering with its 53 franchisees in the country. “I have a very talented team that make me look good so I’m definitely blessed in that regard,” laughed Patrick. “We work with local Kiwi business owners. They pay their taxes here, they have family here, and our suppliers are also New Zealand based.” Patrick says he’ll be overlooking various different aspects of the business in order to promote the brand even further.

So what got him interested in the role? “I’ve been in the business for over 27 years now, starting as a crew person,” says Patrick. “It’s a great business because every day is different, engaging, and its one of those businesses that lets you stretch yourself out and get in touch with different areas of the business.” Patrick has always had a keen interest in the retail industry and says the appeal of making it to the top has always motivated him to push for gold. “I guess its one of those stories where you work your way through the ranks, starting off small and coming out with something much bigger.” Patrick says although he could have followed the franchisee road, but the appeal of making the calls and holding a top position pushed him in the direction to do otherwise.

What’s the job he is leaving? Previous to this role, Patrick was the director of operations. “Whilst I had that title, I actually did more than just operations reporting,” he says. “I also had the responsibility of managing finance, HR and talent, right through to the supply chain and IT. So in a sens you could describe that as a chief operating officer type role, whilst reporting to the managing director.”

Where else has he worked previously? “I haven’t actually had any other jobs out of McDonalds,” says Patrick. “I was coming out of school, going into university where I enrolled in a Bachelor of Science Degree, specialising in computer science.” The job was spotted by one of Patrick’s friends, where he applied for a position at a new McDonalds restaurant in Auckland, resulting in his first job. But after working full time at university and night shifts at McDonalds, there was a change in direction. “I just woke up one day thinking, ‘computer science isn’t exactly what I want to do’. I was enjoying retail; interacting with customers and being in that high paced environment really changed things for me. I had a fantastic boss who showed me around the various opportunities that were available and that just lured me in.”

What qualifications has he attained? “I completed what they call a ‘Bachelor in Burgerology’ at Hamburger University both in Sydney and then in Chicago in the US. It’s a complete university campus that managers, franchisees and corporate staff go to for various training courses and different levels of qualification.” Patrick completed a Diploma in Business a few years earlier at Auckland University whilst working full time in middle management in McDonalds. “It just goes to show the level of dedication McDonalds has standing behind its employees.”

What will be some of the challenges he will face in the new role? Patrick touches on the challenges of a tough business environment both for McDonalds and for businesses in general. “It’s typical across the retail market and various business sectors. People just don’t have the disposable income that they used to have. There’s not as much money being spent by customers in this current economic climate, plus the increasing costs of inflation. So building our customer base and customer relations will be the biggest challenge for us.”

What advice would you give to someone entering the management industry? “I would look at every opportunity put in front of me, and I guess my story is a perfect example of starting at an entry wage and working your way up.” Patrick says working hard, showing leadership and taking chances is key to successfully managing a business in any market and that people generally do have a whole range of opportunities, “they just need to find the courage to take them.”

Where do you see New Zealand’s fast food industry going? “We are in a price war and I think that if you look beyond the quick-service restaurant category there’s a lot of categories that are into competing on price.” Patrick says the McDonalds brand is currently focused on providing superior value for customers across the country. “We back ourselves to win, not just the battle, but the war when it comes to customer service.”