MICHELLE Orton-Dessaix was a single mother with three children when she bought her first McDonald's franchise.
Today she owns four stores across the Gold Coast and Tweed and still works in each one of them.
International Women's Day is a wonderful opportunity to highlight the successes of everyday women living and working in and around us and Ms Orton-Dessaix is the perfect example of an empow- ered woman.
At the age of 15 she started working at the first Gold Coast McDonald's at Mermaid Beach and within a year she was in management.
She became the young- est store manager at the age of 18 when she was hired to manage the sec- ond Surfers Paradise franchise.
After taking a few years off to raise her children she decided to go back to the golden arches and build an empire.
"Eventually I missed it so much I had to come back," Ms Orton-Dessaix said.
"They call it having ketchup in your blood.
"It had a hold on me."
And while it hasn't always been easy, she's known from the beginning that the only way was up.
"My goal was always to be a franchisee," Ms Orton-Dessaix said.
"I bought my first McDonalds at Marina Mirage and it's grown from there.
"I always wanted it to grow and give potential for my kids to grow into it.
"The more franchises you have the more opportunities you have for your team. But having support was so critical, I'm always glad I stayed on the Gold Coast to have the support of my family."
According to Ms Orton-Dessaix, McDonald's is at the forefront of equal opportunity and she's never felt an obstacle being a woman.
"I still work in the stores and I know all my staff by name and I'm really involved," she said. "The opportunity is there.
"There's a lot of females in top management and owning stores; McDonalds is very fair.
"I say go for it and follow your dream."