McDon­ald’s de­liv­ers op­por­tu­ni­ties on a plate

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Scholarships - Derek Parker

McDON­ALD’S might be known for its burg­ers and fries but it has emerged as a gen­er­ous provider of schol­ar­ships to young peo­ple. Last year, it es­tab­lished the Char­lie Bell Schol­ar­ship for Fu­ture Lead­ers, in hon­our of a for­mer McDon­ald’s chief ex­ec­u­tive who died of can­cer in 2005.

Two Char­lie Bell schol­ar­ships are given each year to peo­ple who have shown out­stand­ing lead­er­ship qual­i­ties, one of which is re­served for a McDon­ald’s em­ployee. The schol­ar­ships are worth $ 20,000 each. Sig­nif­i­cantly, the awards are not tied to study or re­search con­nected to the fast food busi­ness. For ex­am­ple, the schol­ar­ship for the em­ployee was awarded to Ash­lea White, from the Queens­land re­gional cen­tre of Ca­bool­ture. The schol­ar­ship has given her the op­por­tu­nity to fo­cus on her third- year stud­ies in med­i­cal imag­ing at the Univer­sity of Queens­land, in­clud­ing prac­ti­cal work at the Princess Alexandra Hospi­tal in Bris­bane.

Start­ing at the age of 15, she worked part- time as a crew mem­ber and trainer at the Bri­bie In­ter­change McDon­ald’s. How­ever, a cri­te­rion for the award of the schol­ar­ship — in ad­di­tion to aca­demic achieve­ment and fu­ture as­pi­ra­tions — is in­volve­ment in com­mu­nity ac­tiv­i­ties. White had also worked as a Queens­land youth coun­cil­lor rep­re­sent­ing the Sun­shine Coast and was a mem­ber of the Ca­bool­ture Shire Coun­cil’s youth ad­vi­sory group, act­ing as an ad­viser on youth is­sues such as drugs and home­less­ness.

‘‘ Win­ning the Char­lie Bell schol­ar­ship was a huge hon­our and a great thrill,’’ White says.

‘‘ With­out it, I would have still done my stud­ies but it would have been very dif­fi­cult, with four hours of travel ev­ery day and other work to sup­port my­self.

‘‘ The sup­port from McDon­ald’s meant that I could pay the HECS and move to Bris­bane. It means I can pro­duce qual­ity work rather be­ing an ex­hausted zom­bie.’’

White also re­ceived a $ 2500 McDon­ald’s Crew Schol­ar­ship, part of a pro­gram aimed at recog­nis­ing and as­sist­ing em­ploy­ees who have achieved a bal­ance be­tween work, stud­ies and com­mu­nity ac­tiv­i­ties. She notes her younger brother, who also works at McDon­ald’s, has also re­ceived a crew schol­ar­ship.

Six­teen crew schol­ar­ships are avail­able to young McDon­ald’s em­ploy­ees in each state ev­ery year.

‘‘ McDon­ald’s is crit­i­cised by some peo­ple, but as an em­ployer they are ex­tremely sup­port­ive, not just in schol­ar­ships but in things like giv­ing

than time off for White says.

‘‘ And they do not use fi­nan­cial sup­port to tie you to the com­pany in any way. They’re will­ing to pro­vide as­sis­tance to help you reach your best per­sonal po­ten­tial.’’

McDon­ald’s peo­ple re­sources di­rec­tor Frank McManus refers to the char­ac­ter of Char­lie Bell, who worked his way up from a part- time counter worker to head of the global or­gan­i­sa­tion, as the key to the com­pany’s approach to­wards schol­ar­ships.

‘‘ He firmly be­lieved in giv­ing back to our em­ploy­ees and in­vest­ing in their fu­ture through train­ing and de­vel­op­ment,’’ McManus says. ‘‘ We



ex­ams,’’ are for­tu­nate enough to be able to pro­vide in­vest­ment in an in­di­vid­ual’s per­sonal growth away from the work­place, whether through the pro­vi­sion of the Char­lie Bell Schol­ar­ship for Fu­ture Lead­ers, our em­ployee ed­u­ca­tion schol­ar­ships, or our sports grants.’’

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