David currently holds the position of Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer, McDonald's Corporation. 

In a company powered by its people, David is strengthening McDonald’s position as a modern, progressive employer. Known for implementing innovative people practices, he places a high priority on training, education and leadership development. David leads global human resources, training, diversity and inclusion and Ronald McDonald House Charities which make up McDonald’s People function. 

David joined McDonald’s in 2005 and has held a number of HR leadership positions, including Senior Vice President of International Human Resources and Strategy and Chief People Officer of Europe where he spearheaded HR strategy and design across 38 countries.
Prior to joining McDonald’s, David joined Lucas Industries as a Graduate Trainee. He then went on to hold senior roles leading talent functions at H J Heinz, SmithKline Beecham and Tesco. He is a former Commissioner for the UK Commission for Employment and Skills and for four consecutive years (2008-2011) was voted the UK's ‘Most Influential HR Practitioner’ by readers of HR Magazine. In 2012, he was awarded the magazine’s first ever Lifetime Achievement Award for an HR Practitioner. 

David is a Chartered Companion of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. He is a Fellow of the RSA; a Fellow of Lancaster University Business School, and a Fellow of the Sunningdale Institute – a virtual academy of leading academics and thought leaders created to advise and advance public service.

Fairhurst earned a bachelor’s degree from Lancaster University and a master’s degree in Strategic Human Resources Management from Manchester Metropolitan University. He has honorary doctorate degrees from Middlesex University and from Manchester Metropolitan University, where he is a visiting professor at the business school.

David’s book ‘Words from the Whys’ has been published in the UK with all proceeds going to Ronald McDonald House Charities.