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CoE alum and Purdue trustee named CEO of McDonald's

CoE alum and Purdue trustee named CEO of McDonald's

Magazine Section: Always
College or School: CoE
Article Type: Article
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Donald Thompson (BSEE '84), a member of the Purdue University Board of Trustees, was named chief executive officer of McDonald's March 22 following the retirement announcement of former CEO Jim Skinner.
Donald Thompson

An Indianapolis native now based in the Chicago area, Thompson was appointed to the Purdue Board of Trustees in the summer of 2009 and is serving through June 2013. In 2006, he was awarded the Outstanding Electrical and Computer Engineering Award at Purdue, and was named a Purdue University Old Master. In marking the Outstanding ECE Award, Thompson said, "For me, the engineering experience is simply how to effectively capitalize on opportunities and navigate through barriers by critically thinking about alternatives. Critical thinking is a competency that is not only desirable, but absolutely necessary in today's business environment."

As president and chief operating officer of McDonald's, Thompson has directed global strategy and operations for the more than 33,000 McDonald’s restaurants in 119 countries. Previously, he was President of McDonald’s USA. In that role, he was responsible for the strategic direction and overall business results of the nearly 14,000 restaurants in the U.S. Thompson began at McDonald’s in 1990 as an electrical engineer, and has since held a variety of leadership positions including U.S. Chief Operating Officer, Executive Vice President and Division President.  

Thompson was named the 2007 Corporate Executive of the Year by Black Enterprise magazine and received the 2008 Corporate Executive Award from Trumpet Foundation. He also received an Outstanding Electrical and Computer Engineering Award from Purdue and served as a university Old Master fellow in 2006.

As a business leader, Thompson serves on the board of directors for the McDonald’s Corporation, the Exelon Corporation -- one of the nation’s largest electric utilities – and at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. 

Thompson has been recognized by many organizations for his leadership in business, the community and as a role model. Black Enterprise named Thompson Corporate Executive of the Year in 2007. In 2008, he received the Corporate Executive Award from the Trumpet foundation. Thompson also received the presidential inspiration award from Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity incorporated in 2009, and was recognized with the Executive Leadership Council’s Achievement Award in 2010. In 2008, he received an honorary doctorate degree from Excelsior College in Albany, New York. 

Thompson and his wife Liz have two children.