McDonald’s names Tabassum Zalotrawala SVP, chief development officer

Former Chipotle executive to head development, join McDonald’s US SLT

McDonald’s USA named Tabassum Zalotrawala SVP and chief development officer (CDO). The announcement from Joe Erlinger, McDonald’s US president, came in a message to staff of the quick-service chain’s US system. The former Chipotle Mexican Grill CDO will report to Erlinger.

According to Erlinger, the position was elevated to be part of the US Senior Leadership Team (SLT). The move is congruent with the QSR’s long-term growth strategy. Zalotrawala begins her new role, reporting to Erlinger, April 24.

Prior to joining McDonald’s, Tabassum oversaw key real estate development efforts for several restaurant brands on the global stage. Most recently, she served as Chipotle’s chief development officer. There, she led the fast casual’s worldwide initiatives in real estate. In fact, one of the projects she led was named one of “The Most Innovative Projects of 2020” by Fast Company.

Prior to that, Zalotrawala held several leadership positions at Panda Restaurant Group and Arby’s Restaurant Group. In these roles, she focused on real estate, design, and construction.


As a standout executive, she led Chipotle’s new restaurant growth of 750 restaurants since 2019, which is roughly 33% net new growth in North America. In addition, Zalotrawala implemented Panda’s real estate long-range planning process to develop 25 new domestic DMAs in four years.

Erlinger wrote, “Tabassum is a values-based leader and is committed to growing the [McDonald’s] business while providing opportunities for the betterment of people, customers, and communities. Her development experience is matched by her extensive education, with a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts and completion of the Harvard Business School Advanced Management Program.”


In advance of her position’s start date, Zalotrawala will relocate to Chicago with her family. Prior to this move, the development leadership team will continue to report to Mason Smoot.

He continued, “I’d like to thank John Wendel for his leadership during this interim period as we conducted our search. The progress the team has continued to make in the past few months has set us up for future success….On behalf of the entire US Senior Leadership Team, I am confident that Tabassum’s leadership will elevate our position as a leading brand and enable McDonald’s to serve more customers than ever before.”

For more about the publisher of this restaurant news site, navigate here.

Leave a Reply