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From Merrimon Avenue to the French Rivera: Career with McDonald’s takes alumna around the world

Jennie Scroggs Ienzer

Alumna Jennie Scroggs Ienzer held a long and productive career with McDonald’s in France and Portugal. She now owns four franchises on the French Riveria.

Jennie Scroggs Ienzer ’83 started classes at UNC Asheville with her sights set on a major in psychology. But a professor’s suggestion that she study French, instead, changed the course of the Waynesville native’s life.

While taking French classes during the day, Ienzer worked nights at the Merrimon Avenue McDonald’s near campus. She’d worked at McDonald’s since high school and quickly rose through the ranks to store manager.

“I can remember explaining to newly recruited employees what a milkshake was or how to use a mop.”

Shortly after graduation from UNC Asheville, McDonald’s headquarters offered Ienzer a chance to go to France for six months to help open the first restaurants in that country.

Ienzer recalls facing surprising challenges when she arrived. “I can remember explaining to newly recruited employees what a milkshake was or how to use a mop,” Ienzer laughed.

Ienzer never looked back to the Merrimon Avenue restaurant. Instead, she set up an office in Paris and became manager of Field Services, which recruited successful French business people to become McDonald’s licensees. She also oversaw the opening of new restaurants, staff training and maintenance of corporate standards.

Eventually, Ienzer was named the managing director of McDonald’s Portugal. She was the first woman in the history of the multi-national McDonald’s corporation to serve as managing director of a country.

“With my Portuguese team, we built the McDonald’s brand and opened over 100 restaurants in seven years,” she said. Ienzer has slowed down a bit since then. After she married and became a mother, Ienzer stepped down as managing director of Portugal and moved back to France. In 2002, she and her husband bought four McDonald’s restaurants in Nice along the French Rivera. Now she balances home life with managing the four franchises.

Despite an exciting international career, Ienzer has continued to stay grounded and is quick to give some credit for her achievements to her alma mater.

“My French major turned me into a very successful businesswoman,” Ienzer said. “Merci beaucoups, UNC Asheville!”

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