Wayne Krawchuk, CGA He’s lovin’ It
“I spent years helping define the corporate agenda. Now, as an entrepreneur, there’s the freedom to set my own agenda and make the choices that I think are going to add value to each location.”
Owner and Operator of Nine McDonald's Franchises on Vancouver Island
You’d be hard pressed to find someone with greater insight into McDonald’s than Wayne Krawchuk. Starting out as a 17-year-old slinging fries at his local Richmond restaurant in 1979, he rose quickly through the ranks, eventually becoming Senior Director at corporate headquarters in Chicago and later Vice President of Strategic Planning in the United Kingdom. Three years ago he shifted gears, leaving the corporate side of the company to become an owner and operator of nine McDonald’s franchises on Vancouver Island.
Krawchuk’s success is largely based on his willingness to look beyond the status quo and pursue opportunities to stretch himself professionally. As an accounting manager for the Western Canada division in the 1990s, his goal was to ensure every department head had access to the financial information that would help them do their job better – a new concept at the time. By emphasizing process and technology improvements, he was able to reduce the ratio of accountants to restaurants from 1:8 to 1:24. The cost savings were invested back into people and technology. “We developed a financial model to instantly analyze whether a potential site location was economic, a process that previously took up to a week.”
Krawchuk’s cost-benefit evaluations of various marketing initiatives caught the eye of McDonald’s Canadian head office, and he was promoted to national Director of Strategic Planning. This was followed by four years in Chicago at global headquarters as Head of the Marketing Science Centre of Excellence. For Krawchuk, this was a particularly stimulating time professionally. “There was just incredible access to new and exciting ways of thinking,” he says. He particularly valued being mentored by Larry Light, the Global Chief Marketing Officer and the person who introduced the popular “I’m lovin’ it” brand campaign.
Success in Chicago led to a stint in the UK as Vice President of Strategic Planning, where he helped transform the struggling division into a high-performing operation.
While Krawchuk, his wife Brenda and their two children embraced the adventure of living abroad, after two years in London they were ready to move back home. And after nearly three decades on the corporate side, Krawchuk decided to see what life was like as an owner and operator of a McDonald’s franchise. “I spent years helping define the corporate agenda,” he says. “Now, as an entrepreneur, there’s the freedom to set my own agenda and make the choices that I think are going to add value to each location.”
Krawchuk currently owns nine McDonald’s franchises on Vancouver Island, and he’s renovated the restaurants to include upscale features like fireplaces, leather seating and free Wi-Fi. In 2009, he received the Ronald Award, given to the top one per cent of McDonald’s owners across Canada for outstanding service to the McDonald’s brand.
Whether in his early days as an accounting supervisor, later on as a leader overseeing large global teams or in his current position where he manages all aspects of operations, Krawchuk has always thrived on building highly effective teams.
The hiring process is critical, he says. “You can hire the right person, and even with a bad manager they will succeed. You hire the wrong person, and they’ll struggle even if they have an exceptional manager.”
Determining who to hire is as much an art as it is a science. For Krawchuk, an individual’s character and soft skills are generally more important than a list of accomplishments. “The successful people aren’t just the lucky ones. They’re the ones who have figured out how to get things done. When confronted with a crisis, they’ll choose the fight over the flight response, and they are able to find the inner strength to get through the tough times.”
A high-performing team requires a leader who clearly values all members and is able to motivate everyone to work together for a common goal. Krawchuk admits that when he was working for the corporate side of McDonald’s, his colleagues were ambitious and self-motivated, and that creating an environment for success was simply a matter of keeping people aligned and focused. Now, as an operator of restaurants, he recognizes that there are “many different character sets I need to motivate.”
Krawchuk credits the CGA program, which he pursued early on in his career, as fundamental to his professional success. “I wouldn’t be anywhere without the CGA program,” he states. “More than 15 years after receiving my designation I did my MBA at the University of Chicago, one of the world’s top business schools. The rigorous and outstanding courses of the CGA program prepared me well.”
He’s equally enthusiastic about accounting, which he considers a great career for those who like to be creative, despite popular stereotypes to the contrary. “Accounting develops a skill set that allows you to use math to predict the future or truthfully explain the past. By being creative you can develop a predictive or explanatory model for almost anything.” One book of interest to Krawchuk is Freakonomics by Steven Levitt, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago, for the way Levitt explores many everyday issues using models and explains them in an interesting way. “I believe the combination of intuitiveness grounded in quantitative analysis has helped me in all my positions, and it’s what I like best about being an entrepreneur. I think of it as ‘freedom within a framework.’”