McDonald’s chief people officer gives his wisdom freely, says Michael Moran

Voted by HR magazine the UK’s most influential practitioner in 2008 and 2009, David Fairhurst, the UK and Northern Europe chief people officer for McDonald’s, has not produced just any old book but a perfect coffee table read for leaders of people.

My only complaint is that he didn’t do it sooner.

Fairhurst introduces as his main theme the “whys”, which have been the focus of his monthly column in HR magazine over the past few years.

He explores the major issues facing the 21st century workplace: why we must demolish silos within the organisation; why we must focus on the positive as well as the negative; and my personal favourite, why we must truly value our values.

In summarising the importance of values Fairhurst quotes Elvis Presley: “Values are like fingerprints. Nobody’s are the same, but you leave them over everything you do.”

The book is full of surprising nuggets and commonsense gems.

The basic premise is “it’s people that make the difference” - they create the edge that matters to your customers.

Those who are serious about leadership will find themselves nodding in agreement with Fairhurst. His book is essential reading for those with responsibility for the management of people.

An excellent gift for any leader, the book is published and sold in a good cause: all profits from the sale of Words from the ‘Whys’ will be donated to the Ronald McDonald House Charities.

Michael Moran is chief executive of Fairplace.


Are you up to speed with the latest management thinking? If you would like to review management journals or books for HSJ, email your suggestions to