When Don Thompson, President and COO of McDonald’s USA, received his achievement award from the Executive Leadership Council last night, the pre-eminent organization of the nation’s most powerful black executives, he asserted that the reason he got his post wasn’t “because I’m African American. I am the best person for the job.” He wasn’t being cocky. The 2007 BLACK ENTERPRISE Corporate Executive of the Year was sending young black professionals and corporate America a powerful message: “You’re prepared, you’re capable, and you’re ready to lead.”
In an exclusive interview with BlackEnterprise.com, Thompson discussed–among a range of issues–the value of diverse talent. He should know: 5o% of the McDonald’s management team is comprised of women and minorities. For young professionals, he shared the “sweet spots” to explore and “land mines” to avoid as they navigate today’s corporate environment.