David Fairhurst

Founder, OrgShakers

David Fairhurst is widely considered to be one of the world’s leading HR practitioners and is a respected thought leader, business communicator, and government advisor. 

In early 2020, David founded OrgShakers - a global team of seasoned HR practitioners with extensive experience working in, and consulting with, leading organizations across multiple sectors. Combining a curiosity with novel AI- driven insights.

Relentlessly curious, OrgShakers seeks ways to combine their proven expertise with novel AI-driven insights to create innovative solutions to fuel sustained performance through the one asset that will always matter – People.

David's most recent role – Executive Vice President, Chief People Officer at McDonald’s Corporation – is one of the world’s largest HR and Training positions with oversight of almost 2-million employees in over 120 countries.

David is credited as one of the key leaders in delivering the company’s historic business turnaround, which saw the firm’s market capitalization rise from $93bn to$147bn in just 4 years. In doing so, he is one of very few HR leaders to have had the opportunity to deliver a truly global Cultural Transformation program at pace and at scale. A proven
‘Disrupter’, David combines hard data and personal intuition to challenge established thinking and ways of working.

For example, in 2014 the Financial Times reported his prediction that, within a decade, major global economies would be facing labor shortages on a scale which would impact business growth – a “workforce cliff”. This disruptive insight allowed McDonald’s and others to prepare for the challenges this presented - and it will be back.

Prior to joining McDonald’s, David was Group Manager for Organisation Development at H J Heinz; European Director of Recruitment and Leadership Planning at SmithKline Beecham (where he was part of the team which supported the merger to form GlaxoSmithKline); and Corporate HR Director at Tesco’s UK and International businesses where he also led the Global Talent function.

For four consecutive years David was voted ‘Most Influential Practitioner’ by HR Magazine, receiving their lifetime achievement award in 2012. He was also the first HR professional to be named ‘Business Communicator of the Year’ by the Institute of Internal Communications – a title previously awarded to leading business figures such as Body Shop founder Anita Roddick, and Virgin founder Richard Branson.

David earned his Bachelor’s Degree at Lancaster University and his Master’s Degree at Manchester Metropolitan University Business School which has recognised his ongoing contribution as a Visiting Professor with an honorary Doctorate in Business Administration. He also holds an honorary Doctorate in Business Administration from Middlesex University.

In 2011, David was appointed by the UK government to act as a Commissioner for the Commission for Employment and Skills – a role he held until the change of government in May 2015. Previously he had served as a Fellow of the Sunningdale Institute; a virtual academy of leading academics and thought leaders created to advise and advance public service. He has also advised officials and politicians at both the European Commission and the European Parliament.

David is a Chartered Companion of the UK’s Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development where he served for four years as its Vice President of Learning, Training and Development. He is also a Fellow of the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) whose mission t “create the conditions for the enlightened thinking and collaborative action needed to address today’s most pressing social challenges”. In the USA he graduated as a Fellow of the CEO perspectives program.

Born in 1968 in Wigan – an industrial town in the Northwest of England – David grew up as part of a family of retailers, and amongst his earliest memories are “helping out” in his grandfather’s grocery store.

He is married to Kara and the couple have two young sons, Emre and Ozan. David also has two grown up children – Thomas and Rebecca.