Shafali Shown-keen: An Epitome of a Pragmatic and Poised Woman Entrepreneur in the Franchising Industry

Shafali Shown-keen: An Epitome of a Pragmatic Woman Entrepreneur | The Enterprise World

Over the past few years, the franchising industry has offered countless opportunities for women to learn, grow, and lead. Today, women are breaking barriers and spearheading this traditionally male-dominated space by increasingly undertaking multiple leadership roles. As more women climb the franchising ladder, their influence will likely reshape the sector, redefining collaboration, adaptability, and customer-centric approaches. 

One such influential leader who has been the cornerstone of inspiration for women aspiring to make a mark in the franchising industry is Shafali Shown-keen. A proud Franchisee of one of the global food retail giants, Shafali has successfully scaled growth for McDonald’s UK . Today, she is a full-time McDonald’s Franchisee who owns and operates three restaurants in West London, and is an emerging role model for female leadership in the franchising industry. 

Pragmatic Entrepreneurial Journey

Shafali Shown-keen, inspired by her parents’ success in running a snooker and pool club, aspired to be an entrepreneur. Despite an accomplished 11-year corporate career in Mergers and Acquisitions, she sought fulfillment and decided to enter franchising, choosing McDonald’s due to its iconic status, her childhood connection, and its established UK presence.

Motivated by her parents’ legacy, Shafali Shown-keen valued McDonald’s proven business framework and robust support for franchisees. Her decision to delegate non-core functions to a centralized team aligned with her goal of focusing on core operations. Following her parents’ advice, she applied for a McDonald’s franchise, facing a nine-month rigorous selection process, which she successfully navigated.

Taking ownership of her first restaurant on April 21, Shafali faced the challenge of leading a 100-person staff. Despite initial hurdles, her adept management led to the success of the store, prompting her to expand her McDonald’s portfolio with two more restaurants in Uxbridge and Heathrow. Presently, she oversees three McDonald’s establishments in West London, managing a team of 300. Shafali’s journey reflects her determination to build a thriving business and continue her family’s entrepreneurial legacy.

A Journey of Rewards and Rejoices

Shafali Shown-keen, a mathematics graduate, leveraged her numerical acumen in a diverse career. After five years in an investment bank, she spent over a decade at Costain, rising to head Mergers and Acquisitions. Despite challenges, she found joy in her team’s growth. Her McDonald’s franchise venture reflects a family-supported journey, with her husband taking on home responsibilities. Parents and sister Anisha, a fellow McDonald’s Franchisee, also played crucial roles. Shafali emphasizes the importance of seeking help, citing early business growth support from loved ones. Balancing family and business, she finds fulfillment in aiding others’ professional development.

Excelling the Shift from Corporate to Entrepreneurship

In her transition from corporate to entrepreneurship, Shafali Shown-keen leveraged her transferable skills acquired in business. Having grasped fundamental business elements, such as operations, finance, structure, and interpersonal dynamics, Shafali’s early exposure to business provided a strategic advantage.

As a business leader, Shafali Shown-keen extends her focus beyond conventional metrics, emphasizing the pivotal role of people within the organization. She contends that employee satisfaction directly correlates with customer happiness and sees her responsibility as optimizing staff performance and fostering a fulfilling work environment.

As a franchise leader, Shafali leads a team overseeing multiple restaurants, collaborating closely with managers and HR support. Her daily responsibilities, ranging from assisting new franchisees to addressing HR issues and financial reviews, showcase the dynamic nature of her role. Currently overseeing the redesign of the Brentford Red Lion restaurant for a ‘Convenience of the Future’ experience, Shafali anticipates its reopening on October 10.

Beyond operational duties, Shafali Shown-keen is committed to mentoring women in the workplace, advocating for gender diversity and creating platforms for women to voice their opinions. She attributes positive changes in her restaurants to regular speak-up sessions, providing a supportive environment for her female employees.

Shafali Shown-keen firmly believes that prioritizing team well-being not only enhances employee satisfaction but also positively impacts sales and public perception. Nurturing a thriving workplace, she asserts, forms the bedrock of a successful business strategy, reinforcing the brand’s positive image and fostering sustained success.

Commitment to Delivering High Standards and Community Contributions

Shafali Shown-keen, a dedicated business leader, prioritizes high operational standards at McDonald’s. Actively involved in monitoring customer satisfaction during lunch and evening operations, she ensures an exceptional customer experience. Beyond McDonald’s, Shafali contributes to finance committee meetings and holds various board roles. Passionate about women in leadership, she engages with MPs and sponsors local initiatives, showcasing a commitment to community service. 

Shafali Shown-keen spearheads litter patrols, aligning with McDonald’s 35-year tradition of cleaning up communities, covering 5,000 miles weekly. Actively fundraising for Ronald McDonald House Charities UK, McDonald’s largest supporter, Shafali aids families near hospitals, exemplifying a commitment to social responsibility. Focused on stewardship, she continually enhances operational aspects for her team, fostering a positive work environment for both customers and employees.

Laying a Robust Foundation with a Deep Understanding

Shafali Shown-keen prioritizes understanding her team’s motivations and preferences. When overseeing a new restaurant, she adopts a hands-on approach, immersing herself for months to grasp daily operations and identify areas for improvement. Collaborating closely with her team, especially business managers, is crucial. Establishing rapport and mutual understanding takes time, creating a symbiotic relationship where team members contribute to success, and Shafali strives to fulfill their needs and aspirations within the established framework, fostering mutual benefit.

Communicative, Visionary, and Poised

Shafali’s management style is intriguing; she prioritizes regular communication and engages her team in yearly strategy sessions to align individual business plans with the overall vision. As a keen listener, she tailors her approach to motivate each team member based on their unique inspirations, whether it be money or power. Shafali embraces a leadership style centered on continuous learning, acknowledging potential errors. She fosters an environment emphasizing fairness, respect, and well-being, treating her team as an extended family. Devoting significant time to them, she recognizes her responsibility for their happiness, believing it’s key to ensuring they, in turn, care for their subordinates.

Changing the Narrative for Women’s Empowerment

Growing up, Shafali Shown-keen has felt the lack of role models for women who they can look up to and is determined to change the narrative with her leadership and vision. She aspires to inspire women, especially in the Asian communities, to pursue their dreams. Her successful entrepreneurship has already motivated several female members in the family and workplace. 

Over half of Shafali’s team comprises female employees and about 40% of her management team. She considers them an untapped resource as a mum and consistently tries to increase their team numbers. Moreover, she believes in empowering employees, especially women, to reach their full potential. While she understands the challenges of balancing work with family responsibilities, she is dedicated to helping the team achieve their dreams. 

Being an established franchise owner and a recognised leader in a traditionally male-dominated industry, Shafali has had several encounters with gender bias. To tackle issues like this, Shafali Shown-keen and her sister Anisha has helped specifically set up a ‘Women’s Franchising Forum’, a platform to promote women and encourage them in workspace and franchising. Her message is clear: be brave, bold, and courageous without the pressure of perfection. McDonald’s flexibility principle allows franchise leaders to employ many women and accommodate their varying commitments. This flexibility creates opportunities for women to succeed in both their professional and personal lives.

Token of Wisdom for Aspirants

While previously ‘work-life’ balance was non-existent in her leadership career, Shafali Shown-keen made adjustments over time and incorporated the concept strictly into her everyday routine. She manages a 24-hour business and tries not to look at her phone in the evenings, prioritizing family time. She drops her kids at school and spends evenings with them.

While weekends are busy for her business, she likes to be in the restaurants and spend quality time with her children. She wants her kids to see her working hard, especially her daughter, who wants independence. Her son will learn to respect and understand women’s work by witnessing his mom’s efforts. Despite challenges, her family supports her, and her children are proud of her role as a McDonald’s franchise owner.

As a seasoned leader, Shafali advises to be bold, brave, and chase your dreams because “you never know what you can achieve if you just take the first step,” and do what you enjoy as success will follow. She personally finds fulfillment in her work, attributing her sense of success to her enjoyment. There will be good days and bad days, but one should celebrate successes and view failures as opportunities for growth and learning. Her lasting piece of advice is not to limit yourself. Anything is possible with imagination, self-belief and courage.      

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