The Legal Compass

Gloria Santona, executive VP, general counsel, and secretary, McDonald's Corporation

With 34 years at McDonald’s, the global corporation’s top legal officer, Gloria Santona, has plenty to be proud of.

What makes you a líder in your professional and personal life?
I run a legal organization that includes 200 attorneys and spans the globe since McDonald’s is in 119 countries. I also serve as a member of the board of directors of Aon Corporation, the Board of the Constitutional Rights Foundation of Chicago, as a trustee of Rush University Medical Center, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. I’m also a proud mom to a teenage boy.

Describe the most pivotal moment in your career and why.
I wanted to be a physician and was not accepted to medical school, so I decided to go law school at University of Michigan and have never looked back.

What key trends define the industry you work in now?
There is enormous change resulting from globalization and advances in technology.

What single thing are you most proud of in both your personal and professional life?
The wonderful career that I’ve had at McDonald’s spanning 34 years and having the top legal job at McDonald’s Corporation.

Looking back, is there any advice you wish you had received when you were first starting out in your career?
Be yourself; don’t try and mold yourself to what others expect from you.

What are you most passionate about in life?
My family (my husband of 32 years and my 16-year-old son)

What key influences allowed you to reach this level of success?
My parents always instilled confidence in me to do what I wanted to do.

Favorite and least favorite aspect of your current job:
I love that every day is different and brings with it new opportunities. My least favorite thing to do is approve expense reports.

What is the biggest challenge or obstacle facing Latinos hoping to succeed in the business world?
The biggest obstacle can sometimes be yourself. You need to find what you excel in and do your best so you can shine.