Drue Hammond: Rising up the ranks at McDonald’s

Drue Hammond is a great example of McDonald’s belief in ‘home-grown talent’. She joined the restaurant chain at the age of 18 as a crew member and 26 years later she is still there – although she has now moved from Operations to Head Office, where she is now a senior HR consultant. Today, she talks to www.workingmums.co.uk about her rise up the McDonald’s ranks and how the business was right behind her when she started a family.

Drue Hammond is a great example of McDonald’s belief in ‘home-grown talent’. She joined the restaurant chain at the age of 18 as a crew member and 26 years later she is still there – although she has now moved from Operations to Head Office, where she is now a senior HR consultant. Today, she talks to www.workingmums.co.uk about her rise up the McDonald’s ranks and how the business was right behind her when she started a family.
 
“The thing about McDonald’s is that it’s not unusual to have notched up so many years,” says Drue, who estimates that the average crew member stays at McDonald’s for almost three years and the average manager, 15 years. In fact, 95% of our managers are recruited internally, providing ample opportunity for our employees to progress within the business.
 
Drue’s story is similar to many other staff: “I was at college when I joined as a crew member,’’ she explains. “Like many other students I was eager to earn extra money and eventually decided that I would leave college and work full-time at the restaurant.” Drue’s talent was quickly spotted by her managers and she soon became a shift manager and then quickly progressed to assistant manager.
 
“I was offered a secondment to the HR department when I was business manager and I worked as an operational consultant for one year, overseeing six to seven restaurants.’’ It was at this time that Drue started her family and her daughter, who is now nearly ten years old, was born.
 
“McDonald’s were very supportive and I got an enhanced maternity package and, after four months I decided to return to work full-time,” says Drue. True to McDonald’s commitment to see its employees develop, Drue returned from her maternity leave to start a new job as a franchisee consultant. “My regional manager was very supportive and asked me to let her know if was I having any difficulties, as it was a new and demanding role. She was there to help me if and when needed, fully respective to my commitments within and outside of the business. 
 
“Working at McDonald’s provided me with flexibility and I was able to largely manage my own schedule. When I worked in operations, I worked across seven days with each week being different depending on the work commitments during that particular week so for example, one week I might have Tuesday and Wednesday off as long as I ensured that I could attend any meetings that were necessary”. Drue acknowledges that she has been fortunate that her partner’s support as well as the additional help from the wider family have been paramount in ensuring that her daughter has been put first.
 
She said: “My little girl only attended nursery three days a week when she was younger because my partner and family helped out the rest of the time. I’m glad that this has also given her time with her grandparents. As a working parent it’s inevitable that sometimes you do feel guilty but I’ve tried to always look at the bigger picture.’’
When she decided to return to work, Drue visited several nurseries and chose one that was part of a national chain. “It just gave me the reassurance I needed that she would be looked after properly. When she started, I ‘weaned’ her so she just went for a few hours and then we built up the time,” says Drue.
 
In 2005, Drue had her second child, a little boy, but this time she took nine months off work. “I appreciated that extra time. The arrival of my son coincided with Hollie starting school so it was lovely to take her to school and get her settled.” She returned to her previous role as a franchisee consultant.
 
“I knew the role well and I’d been able to keep in touch with my colleagues whilst I’d been off – through social occasions as well as through the usual company communications channels.  The company also makes use of the Keeping In Touch days when you’re on maternity leave so that you can go back into work to undertake some formal training or learn about new initiatives for example,” says Drue.
 
Drue has now moved into a permanent office-based position as an HR consultant which utilises her Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) qualification. “You tend to deal with similar HR issues across the board. I took the opportunity to move into a more senior HR role and now I work Monday to Friday, nine to five. When I told my boss that I would have to drop the children off at 8am before I came into work they were very accommodating.”
 
The opportunity to move around the company, develop new skills and climb up the ladder has been a huge reason that many people stay with McDonald’s for so long. “It sounds like a cliché but I do love it,” says Drue. “The organisation is very progressive – it’s continually evolving and it’s very flexible in all areas of the business. People who work in the restaurants can work their job around their availability. There’s also so many opportunities to develop skills, for example McDonald’s is the largest apprenticeship provider in the UK – and we also offer all of our employees the opportunity to gain maths and English qualifications.’’
 
Having a favourable work/life balance has always been important to Drue, who says that her attitude from the start has been about fairness. “It’s a two-way relationship,’’ she emphasises. “My philosophy is to give it 100% at work and give it 100% at home. My manager is very understanding and from a personal point of view the company’s attitude to flexibility has helped. I’ve attended several development programmes, like the Women’s Leadership Development Programme, which have given me the confidence to do the job but have also helped me at home.’’
McDonald’s support for working parents has also helped Drue to return to work full-time. The company offers childcare vouchers through a salary sacrifice scheme so that employees don’t have to pay tax on a chunk of childcare provision.  For crew members, the ‘friends and family contracts’ allow staff members who are part of the same family to job-share to work the shift.
 
Around 45% of McDonald’s employees are women – and many of these women juggle high-profile careers and have families and Drue says that as many as a third of the executive team have families. “It’s great to see these women as role-models and it gives me the encouragement to progress even further. They send a positive message to women who want to get ahead,” says Drue. 





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