J.C. Gonzalez-Mendez: McDonald’s Supply-Chain Specialist

A senior manager with McDonald’s, the clear leader in the quick-service restaurant category, Gonzalez-Mendez’ thumbprint identifies him as a mover and a shaker with a supporting track record. He is credited with introducing McDonald’s to Mexico (his native country) in 1984, when he served as the restaurant chain’s Country Purchasing Manager. He was responsible for the overall development of sources of supply for the Mexico market. In 1987, he received McDonald’s President’s Award bestowed upon only 1 percent of its entire workforce. Currently, Gonzalez-Mendez coordinates food, paper and toy purchases for more than 15,000 McDonald’s restaurants in the United States and Canada.
Q: How do you define business and personal success?
A: Success in business is in the “doing” as much as it is in the “achieving.” It’s about executing to the best of your ability, doing the work and doing it right. Winning is important but so too is knowing that you have fought hard and done your job well. There’s a tremendous satisfaction that comes from this—and it often leads to the attainment of your goals.
On the personal side, success is having a healthy and happy family and watching your children become great citizens and attain their dreams in life.
Q: What leadership traits keep you on your game in your profession?
A: Integrity, above all else. If you demonstrate that you are honest, fair and true to your beliefs and those of the company for which you work, you will earn the respect that is so crucial to being an effective leader. I also believe one of the greatest traits of a leader is the capacity to never be satisfied, to always challenge the status quo and strive for continuous improvement. In our business and many others, if you’re not moving forward, you’re falling backward. And so a great leader needs to always stay hungry and never settle.
Q: Of all careers available to you, how did you land in your current career?
A: Through a combination of luck and determination. I joined McDonald’s in 1984 because I was interested in the food profession and excited at the opportunity to work for a global, iconic company. After working on quality and supply-chain issues, I became passionate about this area of the business. So I took advantage of the opportunities to become more experienced and adept in this field.
Q: What would you like your professional and personal legacy to be?
A: I would like to be remembered as a leader who cared for his people and their development. I want to be known as someone who has instilled great values and principles in those around me   not because I talk about those values, but because I live them every day.
As for my family, I would like to be remembered as a great example for my wife and children and someone that they would aspire to emulate. I want to be remembered as a loving father and husband who lived his life to its fullest and always cared about people, especially those less fortunate.
Q: What are your greatest sources of professional and personal joy?
A: Watching my people grow professionally gives me the greatest satisfaction in the workplace. Seeing them accomplish their dreams is priceless. At McDonald’s, we like to say that our people are our competitive advantage   and from what I see everyday, it really is true.
My greatest personal joy comes from spending time with my family and watching my children grow up. Every stage of their lives is different, and every one is better than the one before.
Q: What advice do you have for neophytes who may wish to emulate your career path?
A: Work hard and stay true to your values and principles every day. Be honest and sincere and show people that you truly care about them. That’s what makes a great colleague and a great leader. In addition, always strive to be prepared academically and professionally. Opportunities present themselves not to those at the right place at the right time; but to those who are ready at the right place, at the right time.
Q: Define power as it appears in your "personal" dictionary and how you use it to make a difference in your world.
A: To me, true power comes not from any one person but from an entire team working together to achieve a common vision. My power comes from the ability to bring our team members together and help them turn their energy and passion into results. That’s the true power of a leader. Our founder Ray Kroc once said, “None of us is as good as all of us.” This is perhaps the most quoted phrase at McDonald’s, because we truly believe it.