McDonald's opens new Hamburger University in China

McDonald's and Hamburger UniversityChina's newest university isn't going to be churning out engineers, scientists and doctors. Instead it aims at producing the next generation of managers -- for McDonald's

The Hamburger University, a venture of fast food giant McDonald's, opened its doors yesterday in Shanghai. The 250 million-yuan school ($36.6 million) will train current employees on how to be leaders in the restaurant and business world, said Rebecca Hary, spokeswoman for McDonald's in a phone interview. This will be the seventh Hamburger University. The school already has locations in the United States (Illinois), Japan, U.K., Germany, Brazil and Australia.

So, why Shanghai? Because of their population size and rising disposable income, China and India have been the largest destinations for foreign companies. There's no dearth of employees, but companies often struggle to retain trained manpower. McDonald's is not alone in its endeavor to grow and keep Chinese talents. Other foreign companies and universities are also deploying similar strategies.

For McDonald's, China is one of the most important and fastest growing markets. The company plans to open 150 to 175 stores this year, Hary said. Currently there are about 1,100 McDonald's there employing 60,000 people. That number is expected to double by 2013.

"That means a lot of news jobs in the marketplace, so obviously we need a lot of recruiting and training there," she said. "So, the location seems like a great opportunity to invest in developing local talent."

The Shanghai University has two classrooms, a library wired for the Internets, five full-time certified professors and translators who can speak three different languages at the same time. The curriculum encompasses topics such as restaurant leadership practices, business leadership practices and operation consultant course. It also gives students a feel for real-life situations such as how to manage a drive-thru at a busy hour.

A lot of the top bosses at McDonald's have trained at the Hamburger University, including CEO Jim Skinner and Tim Fenton, the company's president of Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa operations.

"The classes shaped them to become leaders," Hary said.
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