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INNOVATE | Interview

Leading by
EXAMPLE
Amin Lakhani is the CEO of McDonald’s Pakistan
(Siza Foods), but that doesn’t stop him from helping
his staff on the restaurant floor. IN SPIRING T HE BU SIN E S S W O RL D

WORDS SHARON MASIGE • IMAGES MCDONALD’S PAKISTAN (SIZA FOODS) As featured in


IN SPIRING T HE BU SIN E S S W O RL D

LEADING
ACROSS
CULTURES

The CEO Magazine


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M
cDonald’s is the air-conditioning, for example, because
undoubtedly one of the kitchen gets very hot.You know that you
the largest and most have to wear gloves and a cap and have to
recognised fast-food be careful not to shake hands with people
chains, with more when handling food.You have to make sure
than 36,500 you use hand sanitiser every 30 minutes and
restaurants worldwide. CEO of McDonald’s not touch your hair or your face. And if you
Pakistan (Siza Foods) Amin Lakhani has do, you have to go and wash your hands. These
worked at the company for more than 20 years may be small things, but they are critical and
and is proud of the fact that he worked his way you can only appreciate them if you have
up from the restaurant floor. “I learned the done them yourself.”
business from the bottom up: from mopping Despite his role as CEO, Amin is not
floors and cleaning the lobby to cooking above doing the same tasks he expects his
French fries, dressing burgers and serving staff to do. “If I walk around outside the
customers,” Amin tells The CEO Magazine.
He says having done those jobs gives those in
restaurant and see rubbish lying on the floor,
I pick it up and throw it in the trash can.
“Once you actually work
senior positions a better understanding of the
business. “At McDonald’s, you can’t suddenly
It’s not like I wait for the janitor to come,”
he says. “I've worked with a lot of my team
from that start – mopping
say, ‘I’m the boss’ one day because you cleaning floors, getting the bags, getting the the floors, cleaning tables,
wouldn’t know how the restaurants are run,”
he explains. “Once you actually work from
boxes from the freezer, and putting things
back. There’s nothing that you do that’s making the French fries
that start – mopping the floors, cleaning tables,
making the French fries – you know exactly
below anybody’s dignity. This is the dignity
of labour. Everybody can do everything. If
– you know exactly how
how things are done.You know how to set I can go and clean a toilet, I expect » things are done.”
66 | theceomagazine.com
Interview | INNOVATE

were no women working in


the restaurant, shoulder to IS MCDONALD’S DIFFERENT IN PAKISTAN?
shoulder with everybody else,”
he says. “We changed that CEO Amin Lakhani explains that food in McDonald’s Pakistan
completely. We have women is comparable to other McDonald’s around the globe.
in all sorts of jobs – as “People come to McDonald’s because they want to eat
restaurant managers or
working in HR or training McDonald’s food. They’re not coming there to eat karahi
roles. This is one of the things [curry],” he says. “It’s not like we have to introduce something
that is extremely important in new or something customers might not want. I mean,
says. “Some of my colleagues in the restaurant Pakistan and also one of the
we have a range that is slightly spicier because people
called me up and said, ‘Your daughter’s here. things I am proud of.”
anybody else to be able to do it too.” Amin Should we give her table service?’ And she Back in 2011, McDonald’s want spicy food, but in Pakistan we eat chicken, beef, fish,
adds that setting this example builds loyalty said, ‘No, thank you. Dad, I want to stand in Pakistan received the Golden beefburgers, cheeseburgers, everything.”
and camaraderie between him and his team. line with everybody else.’ And I think that is Arch Award, which is given
Amin believes in equality among his the most wonderful thing. It gives the right on the basis of outstanding
workers, saying that there are “no VIPs” in message to everybody in the system – that quality, hygiene and cleanliness, a strong focus strengths is our people and how we all love
the company. “When I go to the restaurant, everybody’s equal, everybody works hard, on customer service, and a positive the brand, which is why we all work
I stand in line. I’m not going to cut in, go and you get treated properly as a result.” contribution to the brand’s success. Amin so hard.”
up to the front and say, ‘I’m so-and-so.’ ” Moreover, Amin believes in gender equality attributes the win to his employees. “They “Big Bird Foods (Private) Limited commenced its successful
Amin recalls how this behaviour influenced and has brought that to his business. “Before are great people and they work really hard,” business relationship with McDonald’s Pakistan in 2014.
McDonald’s team has worked with us sincerely exhibiting
his daughter. “When my daughter was eight McDonald’s came to Pakistan, young women he says. “The most important thing for us is true professionalism and efficiency. We are proud to be a
or nine years old, she wanted to stand in line would work in restaurants but they worked that our people are well trained by the time partner in McDonald’s recent successes in Pakistan.”
– Dr Muhammad Mustafa Kamal, Managing Director,
and buy the food like everybody else,” he mostly as the maître d’ or hostess – there the restaurants open. I think one of our Big Bird Foods (Pvt.) Limited

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