Speaker: Ms. Michelle Ho ’05, President & Chief Executive Officer
Golden Burger Food Co. LTD
Michelle Ho is Chief Executive Officer and Developmental Licensee of McDonald’s for Macau, Zhuhai and Zhongshan, China. She speaks English, Cantonese and Mandarin. Michelle is the second of four sisters and was born in Hong Kong on 25 March. She grew up in Macau and at the age of 16, she moved to the US for high school. She went to Blair Academy, a college-prep boarding school in New Jersey, from 1999 to 2001.
When the time came to apply for universities, she applied to 10 of them; and the only one she didn’t get accepted into was Cornell University, her top choice. She decided to go to Purdue University in Indiana in the meantime and one year later, she persevered, reapplied and got accepted to Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration in Ithaca, New York.
During summers while a student at Cornell, Michelle worked at various hotels and hospitality companies to learn more about the industry and hone her skills. From working at the front desk and wedding department at The Venetian Las Vegas, to the Golden Door destination spa in Escondido, CA and finally with Coyle Hospitality Group, a mystery shopping, quality assurance and marketing research company. Ho ended up focusing on spa development at school because she was inspired by her mentor professor Mary Tabacchi. While at Cornell, Michelle was an active member of HEC (Guest Services Director at HEC 78 and Marketing Director at HEC 79), CUSPA and a TA of the Spa class for 2 years.
Upon graduating from Cornell in 2005, Michelle took on the role of Spa Analyst for the Mandarin Orient Hotel Group, which brought her back to Asia, based in Hong Kong. In 2008, she became the Director, Market Planning and Consumer Relationship Management for Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts in Singapore. By that time, Ho was in her mid-20s and the youngest director in the company. Her career was going really well and she enjoyed living in Singapore. Her father was already thinking about retirement then and asked if Michelle was interested in coming back to Macau to take over the family business.
For many years, Michelle gave her father a hard ‘no’. Eventually she softened to the idea and she did feel that, given her experience and career path, it was natural for her to take over her father’s role as CEO of Golden Burger – the master franchise company responsible for McDonald’s in Macau, Zhuhai and, recently, Zhongshan.
In 2012, Michelle fast-tracked her McDonald’s corporate training in Singapore. The training she received was like getting another college degree. She spent nine months in the restaurants learning everything about the McDonald’s system. From taking out the trash and cleaning the toilets, to cooking every product on the menu and working every station in the kitchen, to managing a team at the restaurant and market level. The training system at McDonald’s is unparalleled and Michelle thoroughly enjoyed the many workshops, exams and training courses she was exposed to as well. She was armed and ready to hit the ground running upon her return to Macau.
When Michelle started with the company in March 2013, the restaurant portfolio consisted of 39 restaurants in Macau and Zhuhai. Now there are 85 in three cities. The Macau business celebrated its 30th anniversary in April 2017.
Michelle is a member of the Young Presidents Organization—a global platform for chief executives around the world—as well as a member of the Cornell Hotel Society. She is a member of the American Chamber of Commerce in Macau and an active board member of the Ronald McDonald House Charity in Hong Kong. In her free time, Michelle likes to visit her niece and nephews, practice yoga and cook for her friends.