McDonald’s began as a company that set the standards. Over time, though, tastes changed and expectations rose. McDonald’s didn’t do enough to keep pace, says the 54-year-old Ozan, who lives in Chicago and relishes the daily reverse commute as a rare chance to spend time alone with his thoughts.
Founded in 1955, McDonald’s was an industry juggernaut for decades, anchoring the fast-food category, establishing best practices in restaurant location and food service operations, and creating globally recognized brands and mascots. But sales first stalled, then slumped, in the early part of the current decade. Customers started driving by, rather than driving through, McDonald’s to other chains that offered a greater variety of food at attractive prices.
By 2015, the board had run out of patience and brought in a new CEO, Steve Easterbrook. At the same time, Ozan was elevated from the role of Senior Vice President – Corporate Controller to that of CFO. He now oversees accounting, internal audit and controls, treasury, tax, global business services, investor relations, global franchising, and workplace solutions.
“Nobody’s ever really ready for this job,” says Ozan, “but if you wait until you’re ready, you’ll never do it.” His immediate predecessor and former boss, who was still with the company through much of 2016, assisted with the transition and served as a shadow coach and mentor as Easterbrook, Ozan and the senior management team formulated their plan.
As they began guiding the turnaround three years ago, the leadership team focused on three pillars: return McDonald’s to operating growth, strengthen financial discipline and build brand excitement. Ozan formed and led several cross-functional teams to evaluate all financial aspects of the company with a “clean sheet of paper” approach and to challenge all legacy thinking – organizational structure and general and administrative costs, capital structure, real estate ownership and franchise ownership.
The 60-year-old company needed to operate with a faster pace and a greater sense of urgency, so the leadership team took out multiple layers of middle management to streamline and quicken the pace of decision-making and execution. They also grouped markets with similar characteristics into four operating segments, so that leaders facing a similar competitive landscape can more readily work through common challenges and rapidly spread the best ideas from one market to another.
This new structure also brought big changes to the McDonald’s corporate headquarters. It became a leaner but stronger organization focused on supporting the markets that are closest to the company’s customers.
The past three years have been an immersion in the challenge of realigning the organization to support the company’s new direction, and modeling culture change in the process. The company’s re-engineered functions, says Ozan, have reduced costs and created breathing room for mission-critical operational changes. For the 1,000 people who report to him from across the globe, that includes expanded time, energy and attention to cultivate careers that drive innovation.