simon_langford_ge_05-09-111This week, to celebrate McDonald's renewing its worldwide sponsorship of the Olympics until 2020, we turn the focus on Don Thompson, the company's President and chief operating officer, for our 123 feature.

What is your role in McDonald's involvement of the Games?

As President and chief operating officer at McDonald's, I really oversee our whole partnership with the Games. The partnership is one of the most important things we do at McDonald's because even though we are a global corporation, we have local roots in the 119 countries where we have restaurants and our customers in all 119 of those countries expect us to be part of their lives. With the Olympics, we feel like we have such a wonderful opportunity to bring athletic experiences and nationality into the homes of all of our customers around the world. During the Olympics, families get together to watch and cheer for their country and for us to be a part of that is really important. It is a pleasure to be involved in that from a personal point for view and as a company.

Why does your organisation support the Games?

It really goes far beyond the pure sales building aspect because we have committed sales growth, but to give some back to our customers and communities is what we are all about. As Ray Kroc (the Founder of the McDonald's Corporation) said: "We have an obligation to give back to the communities that give us so much." So we are there to support the Games and to help ensure a smooth running Games. Our hopes for the Games are that the athletes get to compete in a way that is wholesome and enjoyable to everyone. We also hope that all the fans enjoy watching the Games and we are happy to do everything we can to make that possible for them.

What is your favourite Games' memory?

I've been blessed to have attended several Olympic Games and I would say that the excitement and the energy at an Opening Ceremony, when you see all the countries around the world participating in the Games, is very special. I'm not sure what my favourite Ceremony is though. When I was at the Salt Lake City Games in 2002, I thought that nobody could do any better. But then we went to Beijing in 2008 and that was amazing and just two years later in Vancouver in 2010, they did a spectacular job. So my favourite memories are from all those Ceremonies combined.

My other favourite thing is to see the athletes come into the McDonald's at the Olympic Village. The athletes absolutely love it and when they come through, to see them smiling and laughing after competing is special. You see them say: "I have been waiting all day to get a Big Mac." That is a lot of fun to see.