In China, Burger U. tougher admission than Harvard U.

Books on inspirational leadership sit on a shelf at the McDonald's Hamburger University in Shanghai, China.

Zhou Xiaobu runs from one end of a table to another, grasping a piece of a puzzle she and her team are assembling as part of a leadership training exercise for McDonald’s managers.

“Go, go, go,” yells their Taiwanese teacher, exhorting them to work for the prize, a box of Danish butter cookies, for being the first to build the company’s trademark Golden Arches. Above their heads is a sign that reads: “Learning today, leading tomorrow.”

This is McDonald’s Hamburger University in China, and it can be harder to get into than Harvard.

The 16,846-square-foot facility doesn’t have a pool or gym, and its one-room library holds books with titles such as “Just Listen,” “Personal Accountability” and “None Of Us Is As Good As All Of Us: How McDonald’s Prospers By Embracing Inclusion and Diversity.”

McDonald’s Chief Executive Officer Jim Skinner, who was paid $17.6 million in 2009, started as a management trainee in 1971 after serving in the Navy, according to the company’s website.

The world’s biggest restaurant operator moved the training center from Hong Kong last year as it expands in mainland China, where its market share is less than half of KFC owner Yum! Brands. The Yum! market value surged 40 percent last year, compared with McDonald’s 23 percent gain.


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