Two questions in a Facebook ad less than five years ago were all it took for Louise Gentles to leave her life in the suburbs of London for a Yukon adventure: “Do you have McDonald’s experience, do you want to live in Canada?”
“I said yes,” says Gentles.
“Six months later I was in the Yukon, it was –29, and I was in some really cute flip flops, in November, it was great.”
That move paid off this month when McDonald’s named her outstanding restaurant manager of the year.
Gentles says the award actually recognizes the team at the Whitehorse McDonald’s for being in the top 10 per cent in Canada.
She says specifically it’s for an increase in sales, success in selling new products, and a smooth transition in how customers are served in Whitehorse.
Gentles says her transition to life in a remote part of Canada, after living in one of the world’s biggest cities, is also a success.
“I’m extremely pleasantly shocked at how well it’s gone,” she says, with no regrets.
“There are times, you know, when you want to go shopping for clothes and you know Joe Fresh isn’t always the first choice, but that’s about it,” she says.
But in return, she gave up a stressful life, saying the work-life balance in Canada is much better.
“I was commuting three hours every day and I came to the Yukon where my commute was 20 minutes,” says Gentles.
She says McDonald’s provides rapid advancement for people who do well. Gentles began as the human resources manager.
“Those who work here understand, there’s a lot of preconceived notions about McDonald’s and not always are they well founded.”
Best part is the people
The best part of the job is the people, Gentles says, adding that this time of year is the hardest because valued employees are leaving to return to school.
The next award up the ladder, named after the company’s founder, Ray Kroc, goes to the top one per cent of McDonald’s employees worldwide.
“I’m not gunning for it yet.”
Gentles says for now she’ll concentrate on keeping up the momentum in the Whitehorse restaurant.
And, she says, –29 temperatures don’t seem like such a big deal anymore.