An interview with Pamela A. Eaton, FCSI, LEED AP, senior associate, Cini•Little International, Inc.

For a complete list of FE&S's Future Foodservice Leaders see The Future Is Now.

Pamela EatonName: Pamela A. Eaton, FCSI, LEED AP
Company: Cini•Little International, Inc.
Title: Senior Associate
Age: 43
Industry involvement: FCSI
Years in foodservice: 27. I started my first paid job at 14, but helped my mom bus tables at 5...
Educational background: Bachelor of Science, School of Hotel Administration, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

What's the best career advice you have been given?
Get operational experience before you join the consulting industry. Understanding how kitchens work from actually living and breathing the day to day challenges brings a knowledge that instruction cannot.

What makes you want to stay in the industry?
Similar answer to what I find most exciting — the potential for positive impact on sustainability through appropriately designed facilities and use of energy-efficient equipment, operational plans that take a holistic approach to the restaurant business and the ways we can tie foodservice by-products to other sustainable practices — biodiesel from cooking oil and food waste, methane from food waste, and composting to name a few.

What attracted you to the industry?
My father is in the industry, so I grew up watching him. At five, I watched him design "The Greatest Restaurant in the World" — Windows on the World. His descriptions of that restaurant made a lasting impression.

What has been your proudest accomplishment?
I have had the honor of working on a couple of culinary schools at community colleges, and the passion shown by the executive chefs that headed the projects was inspirational. Being able to be part of the team that brings together an avenue for people to pursue good careers really does make you feel like you have made a positive contribution to the world.

What excites you most about the foodservice industry?
How much the foodservice industry could affect the world for the better in the realm of true sustainability; foodservices have been such a "hog" in the past, particularly in the areas of energy usage and food waste; the food industry could really be a leader in how to run a truly sustainable business — a whole business, not just sticks and bricks. Providing healthy, good tasting meals that are created from sustainable sources (local farms, sustainable business models, good practices for raising of animals and fish), sold in sustainable operations with waste disposed of in ways that complete the circle — cradle to cradle, everything gets reused. Some businesses have found ways to meet sustainable goals in mind-blowing ways. As consultants, it's our responsibility to learn about all of these things and disseminate the knowledge to our clients.