Diversity Woman Magazine

FALL 2014

Leadership and Executive Development for women of all races, cultures and backgrounds

Issue link: https://diversitywoman.epubxp.com/i/385684

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64 D I V E R S I T Y W O M A N Fall 2014 d i v e r s i t y w o m a n . c o m Executive Spotlight G rowing up in Merrillville, Indiana, Gloria Santona dreamed of being a doctor. She pursued her dream, majoring in biochemistry at Michigan State University. Ten she applied to medical school— and didn't get in. It was time for Plan B. One problem: She didn't have a Plan B. But fortunately, she did have sup- portive parents—her father, who worked in a steel mill, was the child of immigrants from Spain; her mother, born in Cuba, was a cashier in a medical office. They had always encouraged their daughter to reach for the Ameri- can dream. Gloria Santona parlayed a supportive immigrant family, mentorship, and a ferce drive to become the leader of McDonald's legal team Santona also had a mentor. After graduating from college, as she searched for a career ft, Santona worked in a hu- man resources department where a labor lawyer took her under his wing. "He convinced me that I should give law a try," says Santona. "I had never thought of law as a career choice, and it was very fortu- nate that he pushed and prodded. He said, 'What are you doing here? You're talented and you can do more with your- self.' I knew I wanted to do something more—I just didn't know what. I was 23, and I had saved some money from working, so I said, 'Why not? I'll try law school for a year, and if I hate it, I can do something else.'" So she headed of to law school. And she loved it. Her frst job following law school was at McDonald's. Tirty-seven years later, Santona is the executive vice president, general counsel, and secretary of McDonald's Corporation, the world's leading global food service re- tailer with more than 35,000 restaurants in 120 countries. In this role, she leads McDonald's worldwide legal, compliance, regulatory, and corporate governance functions. As part of McDonald's senior leadership team, Santona is also actively involved in the company's strategic direc- tion and growth. Quite an accomplishment for some- one without a backup plan. Diversity Woman: How did your family background shape your values and career aspirations? Gloria Santona: My dad's parents went from Spain to Indiana, and my mom's parents emigrated from Spain to Cuba. My mom was born in Cuba and grew up there. When she was 18 and visiting relatives in Indiana, she met my father, and they ended up getting married. I have a younger brother, and we were the frst generation in our family to go to college. It was a really big deal for us. My parents, typical of many immigrant families, saved for a better life for their kids. My parents are very supportive of me. At the time, when I wanted to be a doctor, they thought, "Okay, you can do that." I was also encouraged to do anything my brother could do. I think it's just those values of people who have immigrated to have a better life and build that better life for that next generation. As a result, you don't want to let anybody down. DW: Did you have any role models? GS: Today, I really believe that it's important to be a role model for others, to let others see you. But I have to say Landmark Lawyer We Mean Business >

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