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Who is McDonald’s new British CEO?

Don Thompson, left, and Steve Easterbrook
Source: McDonald's

Watford, an unprepossessing commuter town outside London, doesn't seem like the most natural birthplace for the new head of McDonald's, that quintessentially American company.

Yet Steve Easterbrook, the company's current senior executive vice president and chief brand officer, has come a long way from his British roots. He's also not, of course, the first McDonald's CEO to be born outside the U.S. - Australian Charlie Bell claimed that title back in 2004.

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Easterbrook studied at Watford Grammar School for Boys, a partially academically selective government-run high school, which he followed with a degree in natural sciences at Durham University, U.K., and a stint as an accountant at PricewaterhouseCoopers (now PwC).

As the former head of McDonald's U.K. business, Easterbrook surprised many when he left to run U.K.-chain Pizza Express in 2011. After less than a year there, he moved on to Japanese noodle chain Wagamama, before returning to the bosom of the McFamily in June 2013.

An appearance on BBC's "Newsnight" opposite Eric Schlosser, the author of anti-fast food polemic "Fast Food Nation", just after he started as McDonalds' U.K. CEO, showed a willingness to engage with critics of the chain.

During his nearly two decades at the U.K. business, he was credited with reinvigorating the McDonald's brand in the U.K., introducing healthier menus and making sure staff were better-trained via new apprenticeship schemes. McDonald's investors will be hoping he can wave the same magic wand over plummeting U.S. sales.

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