Catriona Noble – The lady at the top of The Golden Arches

First Published: APRIL 30,2013

It is not very often you meet a young female CEO running the Australian arm of a major global company. Even rarer still, a woman has worked at the company since she was 16 years old.

Catriona Noble is that lady. Not only does she run McDonald’s Australia with passion and intense focus, she is also a very proud mother and wife.

In talking with Catriona you get the sense that she does not for a second take for granted her position. She is well aware of the iconic brand she is responsible for, and is across everything from promotional campaigns for McDonald’s Happy Meals, to the quality of the beef in a Big Mac.

She has also driven global innovation for McDonald’s from Australia; the hugely successful McCafe initiative being a great example of one of them. The intense scrutiny around fast food and McDonald’s after the “Supersize Me” documentary by Morgan Spurlock meant that the business had to go through a total re-haul of the menu and offering – which Catriona played a key part in. This was a huge initiative for a company like McDonald’s and an opportunity for a leader like Catriona to change the status quo.

I often wonder as the CEO of an entrepreneurial media firm, what it is like to be a steward of a global brand. There certainly would be a level of prestige, as doors open because of the name. I imagine there would also be a level of restriction upon what you can do with that business – being one region out of many that represent the global giant.

I think it takes a certain kind of leader – one with patience, great stakeholder management skills, a genuine passion for the business and a respect for what the brand has already achieved. It also means keeping an eye on succession – who is the next person after you to take the brand into the future.

Catriona is an impressive CEO who has shown a huge amount of loyalty to the company she leads.

McDonald’s is extremely lucky to have one of their own at the top.