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FM Profile: Sabrina Capannola

FM Profile: Sabrina Capannola

President, 2013-14 Society for Hospitality and Foodservice Management

When I complete my term in office, I’ll feel I’ve been successful if SHFM has expanded its reach to corporate hospitality management professionals and provided even more value for them.

Our members would like to see SHFM recognized as the industry’s expert association for those managing the full spectrum of Workplace Hospitality Services, not just for those with our historical core focus on Corporate Foodservice.

When I ran for president, I promised I would lead SHFM into a new era and broader focus while still retaining all the foodservice expertise that is our legacy.

My strongest professional role model has been Carl Wessmann. He was a brilliant, confident, yet quietly self-assured man who, at different times, was a teacher, a role model and a friend. His special brand of leadership is inspiring, and in difficult times I ask myself, ‘How would Carl handle this situation?’ He balances the ambitious with the practical and has a knack for tackling the right project at the right time.

My first job in foodservice was when I was five years old and would stand on a milk crate at the end of the produce aisle in my grandfather’s grocery, grinding Eight O’Clock coffee. I always made sure to inhale the fresh ground aroma before sealing the bag for a customer.

The most important career decision I ever made was to join NationsBank in 1994. That choice introduced me to workplace hospitality. I was fortunate to work for Ashley Balman, who mentored me and put me on the path to the career I’ve enjoyed thus far.

I think my strongest personality trait is optimism. I love working with and motivating teams.

The best way to improve the image of foodservice in a corporate setting is to be imaginative in your menu development and presentations and to embrace consumer demands in a very nimble and responsive way.

The most challenging aspect of my job is having patience. Balancing the drive to get things done in a large organization can be difficult for a Type A personality.

Beatles or Stones? Neither—I’d have to go with Springsteen, an Italian-American who has provided the soundtrack to some great personal memories.

The best professional advice anyone ever gave me was to recognize that your network is your net worth. All the positions I’ve had in the last 20 years have developed through personal connections.
If I could change one thing about the foodservice industry it would be the fact that so many people underestimate the impact hospitality has on an organization’s brand. Foodservice is the heart of hospitality, and hospitality is the heart of the brand.

The favorite dish I cook myself is  Lobster Risotto.

If I could offer a single piece of advice to my earlier self in college it would be to ‘Enjoy the journey.’  Don’t be so focused on where you are going that you don’t appreciate where you are today.

At a Glance

Society for Hospitality and Foodservice Management  (SHFM)
No. of Members: 600
HQ Address:
455 S. 4th Street,
Louisville, KY 40202
Executive Director: Tony Butler

Phone: (502) 574-9931

SHFM is a community of professionals that enhance hospitality services in the workplace through education, networking and innovation.
Job: Senior Project Manager, Food and Conference Services
The World Bank
Niagara University, BS Hotel and Restaurant Management;  George Washington University, Master’s Certificate, Project Management; Schiller International University, Switzerland, International Hotel and Restaurant Management

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