Sharon Ramalho, former Senior Vice President and Chief People Officer at McDonald’s Canada, offered lessons learned during her time at one of the largest global brands during her keynote presentation to Argyle’s CHRO membership at the 2017 Human Capital Leadership Forum in Toronto on October 17. In her presentation, “Lessons Learned Along the Way,” Ramalho shared the traits necessary for HR leaders to succeed in a highly competitive global business landscape, as well as tips to help create a culture for inspirational leadership.
According to Ramalho, it takes a team effort to succeed in the global business landscape. Although many HR professionals try to operate independently, a team-centric approach may prove to be crucial.
Ultimately, HR professionals must be ready to embrace collaboration and camaraderie. If HR professionals work together and communicate with one another consistently, they may be better equipped than ever before to help their respective organizations achieve the best-possible results.
“You can’t achieve the goals that you have in life without others around you to help you,” Ramalho said.
Meanwhile, during her 35 years at McDonald’s Canada, Ramalho explored many career development opportunities.
“It is not work-life balance, because work does not come first.”
Ramalho spent 10 years in Russia to help McDonald’s expand its global presence. Plus, she contributed at the corporate level to help McDonald’s engage, attract and retain top talent.
“I was part of a system that nurtured the growth of talent,” Ramalho stated. “I was part of a system that valued growth and diversity … and I understood the role modeling that went along with that.”
At McDonald’s, Ramalho was more than just an “HR person,” she indicated. Conversely, Ramalho understood how to function as a team player and contribute in any way possible.
“I’m not an HR person; I’m a people person,” Ramalho noted. “I have the ability to connect with people and build strategic plans. Because that’s what we do in HR.”
Furthermore, Ramalho provided four lessons learned that HR professionals can apply to their everyday lives:
1. Life Comes First
It is easy for HR professionals to prioritize career growth and development. Yet enjoying life should always be their top priority, Ramalho said.
“It is not work-life balance, because work does not come first,” she stated. “It is life-work management. Your life is first, work is part of your life and you’re managing it.”
Ramalho recommended that HR professionals create a “life list” that includes things that people want to accomplish during a lifetime. This list can include minor and major milestones and may help individuals prioritize life – not work – day after day.
2. Believe in Yourself
Confidence can play a key part in an individual’s success in any job, at any time. If an individual possesses the skills and knowledge to perform assorted tasks, this person likely will feel confident in his or her ability to complete these tasks successfully. On the other hand, an individual who lacks confidence may falter quickly, and this person is unlikely to inspire leadership in others as well.
“You have full control of the journey that you’re on. Don’t let someone else control that journey for you.”
HR professionals can help employees become confident in their day-to-day activities. If HR professionals allocate the necessary time and resources to train and educate workers, they can help these employees build confidence faster than ever before.
Moreover, Ramalho stated self-confidence is important, regardless of an individual and his or her job. If a person feels confident, this individual can identify the best opportunities to succeed time and time again.
“If you don’t believe in yourself, why should someone else believe in you? Know who you are, know what your strengths are and know what opportunities are available to you,” Ramalho recommended.
3. Embrace Mentoring
Mentors are available who can help individuals build successful career paths. Identifying and partnering with mentors often gives people the opportunity to improve in a number of areas.
“Find mentors and coaches who are going to help you ultimately be your better self and achieve the goals that you want to achieve,” Ramalho said.
4. Take Smart Risks
There is no need to back down from challenges. Ramalho suggested individuals look for “smart risks” to build their confidence, knowledgebase and skill sets over time.
“Take challenges … you’ll know it’s a hard challenge when your belly burns, and that usually means it’s a good thing,” she noted.
Lastly, how a person approaches his or her everyday activities is essential. If an individual is open to new opportunities, this person can live life to the fullest. Perhaps most important, this individual will have control of his or her life and relish new learning opportunities.
“You have to be in the today to achieve the tomorrow,” Ramalho pointed out. “You have full control of the journey that you’re on. Don’t let someone else control that journey for you.”
Sharon is an experienced Senior Vice President and Chief People Oﬃcer, with a demonstrated history of working in the restaurant industry, both in Canada and Europe. She is skilled in People Leadership, Customer Service, Talent Development, Change Management, Mentoring and Coaching. Strong business and human resources professional who is currently taking a hiatus, after achieving a lifelong goal of retirement at 50. Sharon enjoyed a long and award winning career with McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada Ltd.
Sharon Ramalho joined McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada Ltd in 1983, as a Crew person in Brampton, Ontario, working part time, while attending high school. After making the decision to accept a Management Trainee position, she rose through the restaurant ranks holding various positions, including Assistant Manager, Restaurant Manager, Training Consultant and Operations Consultant.
Sharon moved to Russia in 1991 for a couple of years, as part of the Canadian team that developed the McDonald’s business there. She returned to Russia in 1996 to support restaurant operations and expansion into 40 cities. Sharon remained with McDonald’s in Europe until the end of 2005. During her time away from Canada, she worked in Russia, Hungary and Scandinavian markets.
Upon returning to Canada, Sharon held several roles, including Director of Menu Management, Director of Operations and Director of Field Service. From 2009 through 2014, she held the position of Vice President – Ontario Region, closely working with the 90 Franchisees and 450 Restaurants in the province. During her ﬁve years as the Regional Vice-President, the Ontario Region was the top performing region in North America for sales and guest count growth. Her ability to build strong relationships with the franchises, together with using business insights and data contributed to the regions’ success.
In her most recent role of Senior Vice President and Chief People Oﬃcer, Sharon worked hard to ensure the McDonald’s People Promise, to value each and every employee, was in place for over 90,000 employees, within franchised restaurants, company operated restaurants and corporate oﬃces across Canada. This is a role that she embraced with her own special brand of enthusiasm and her contagious passion for our business and our people. In her two and a half years as the CPO, Sharon and her team created a new People Vision and entrenched a 3-year People Strategy. All of this helped accelerate the People programs and practices across Canada and built on the strong foundation as an employer of choice.
Sharon has been recognized throughout her career by McDonald’s. She received the Golden Maple Leaf Award in 1998, the President’s Award in 2001 and 2008, and the Global Women’s Leadership Award in 2009 and 2012, in addition to a number of team awards.