Tuesday, March 31, 2009

* Who is Raul Alvarez and Why Should We Listen to Him?

Raul Alvarez was born in Havana Cuba in 1955 into a very successful family. Before fleeing to the U.S. during Castro's takeover, Raul's mother worked as a marine biologist and his father was the President of Cuban Airways. Raul recalls, "As an immigrant, and losing everything they lost, [my parents] were so determined to ensure that their kids wouldn't have to go through that and that they were absolutely self-sustaining."

Like most immigrants, the Alvarez family didn't believe in debt. When it was time for college, Raul chose a route that would minimize the financial burden on his family. For his undergraduate degree, Raul attended the University of Miami where he was entitled to free tuition because his mother taught in the graduate school. He graduated cum laude and was hired by an accounting firm.

He was asked to do some financials for one of his clients, and it wasn't long before he accepted a position as a director of finance with the company. This was the first of many moves in his career. Raul quickly ascend through the ranks and was always looking for the next strategic jump. To gain experience and move ahead, he leveraged his Hispanic background by took an operations job in Spain.

In 1987, looking to make another large career leap, he contacted the biggest player in the industry, but the door wasn't open - yet. Another competitor had started rebuilding itself and gave him an opportunity in 1989 where he served as a corporate vice president that oversaw acquisitions. Then in 1994, seven years after his initial contact, the industry leader came knocking. A friend had tipped the company off to Raul's quality of work.

"They approached me through a headhunter and I said I'm not gonna call you back! You didn't call me before, I'm not calling you!" His friend encouraged him to pursue this opportunity. It was something Raul had always talked about. Eventually, he decided to join the industry giant. As before, Raul quickly rose through the company's ranks.

So who is Raul Alvarez?

If you are a dividend investor you probably own shares in Raul's company and you have been lovin' it during this economic downturn. Raul Alvarez now goes by the name Ralph and is the President and Chief Operating Officer of one of the most successful companies in the word, McDonald's Corp. (MCD). He has helped MCD extend a six-year success streak with his focus on improving restaurant operations, adjusting prices and keeping down costs and is in line to take the reins when 64-year-old Chief Executive Jim Skinner retires.

Full Disclosue: Long MCD
- McDonald's Seeks Way to Keep Sizzling
- He's lovin' it; the Ralph Alvarez story

Tags: [MCD]