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“My first and only job has been with McDonald’s” began David Balducci, a 32-year-old, 2010 recipient of the Worcester Business Journal’s Forty under 40 Award as he addressed junior and senior Entrepreneurial Management students at his alma mater, Nichols College.
Balducci began his career in 1994 as a member of a crew mopping floors, then in 1995 as a shift manager, and eventually, as an assistant manager in 1996. While earning his business degree with a concentration in Management Information Systems, he worked 40-50 hours a week as a restaurant manager and after graduation, became an operations director. Today, as a proud owner/operator, he says: “I’m lovin’ it!”
In fact, 10 percent of McDonald’s owner/operators in the United States start on the lower supervisory rungs of the quick service restaurant giant. As president of McDonald’s Sellia Corp. based in Spencer, Mass., Balducci notes: “It’s a family business. My wife and I own two McDonald’s restaurants, my father-in-law owns eight, and my brother-in-law owns two. And I’m in charge of the daily operations of all 12.”
Balducci, who believes strongly in personal branding, told Nichols business students to prepare an “elevator speech,” a prepared pitch about their aspirations…something to grab the attention of a captive audience. “There are odd times when you will meet important people. Don’t let an opportunity pass to present your brand.” He told students not to worry about the present economy, but instead: “Focus your attention on a career. The more effort you put into your search, the more you’ll get out of it.”
Unfazed by the umpteen questions asked at the end of his presentation, Balducci provided insight into McDonald’s as a corporation and the challenge of managing 700 employees. As a manager, “you have to be approachable and open,” he said. He acknowledged Dunkin Donuts as a tough competitor, stressed the importance of connecting with the local community, and reflected on the benefits of co-branding with Paul Newman products.
Most importantly, Balducci left Nichols students with an understanding that there was nothing beneath him as an owner. “If I need to pick up trash from the floor of one of the restaurants, that’s what I do.”
“If you clap at the end of my presentation and tell me that you had a good time, I’ll give you free food and a gift,” he said tongue-in-cheek. A man of his word, each Nichols student received a McDonald’s "I'm lovin' it" coffee mug and a gift card for a frappe, cinnamon melt, and sandwich of choice.