When most people take their first job as a teenager slinging burgers and serving fries, they rarely envision spending their careers that way. Teresa McGeehan was no different when she started working at McDonald’s at 16 years old, but after 33 years with the organization, she is an owner/operator of 12 locations along with her husband, Chip, and is now one of the region’s top female executives.
As she climbs the ladder, McGeehan doesn’t let her employees forget the potential their positions hold. “When people say McDonald’s is a dead-end job, I say it can be if that’s what you want it to be,” she says. “Any job can be. Where do you want to take yourself?”
Through the years, McGeehan’s supervisors recognized leadership traits in her and continued to promote her, despite her struggles with self-confidence. “I never really thought I had the potential to do it, but I tried,” she says. “That’s probably my one regret, that I wasn’t more of a maverick and more of a risk-taker. I waited for people to come to me instead of saying, ‘I can do this.’”
One of those supervisors was Chip McGeehan, who is now her husband. In 1994, he purchased the Lebanon McDonald’s and immediately saw McGeehan’s potential and ambition as he guided her through higher levels of management. “I knew I had a diamond in the making with this ball of energy,” he says.
Because of mentors like Chip, McGeehan makes an effort to be a mentor to others. “I see so many little Teresas coming up the ranks,” she says. “How do I help them? How do I encourage them to reach for the stars?”
Everything from her mentoring to her attitude has rubbed off on her team. “Her drive and motivation has inspired many of our employees to reach high in life and accomplish all they can with what they have,” Chip says.