What economic downturn? McDonald’s is tearing it up financially—and this low-key CEO is responsible. Since taking the helm in 2004, he has led one of the great corporate turnarounds of our time, checking out-of-control growth and adopting a back-to-basics approach that has delivered enviable profit margins (20 percent in 2011) and a $100 billion market cap. His jobs program teaches 1.7 million workers precision and discipline, not just how to crank the fryer. What’s more, few people wield more influence over the average American’s diet (“Over 99 Billion Served!”).
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Photograph: Bonnie Trafelet/Chicago Tribune