McClendon is the billion dollar company’s Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO), a role he convinced YUM’s CEO, David Novak to create in 2010. As an engineer who had worked in multiple functions of the company, he saw an opportunity for the company to utilize and leverage sustainability as a strategic framework for their ongoing business success.
“Sustainability is not just a word to me, it’s a core value. I encourage customers and leaders alike to look holistically at the industry to make the largest impact—ensuring that each year you are doing more for people and the planet than the last,” says McClendon.
And a large impact is certainly what McClendon has had during his tenure with YUM! Brands.
Charged with ensuring that all brand restaurants are operating efficiently while minimizing environmental impact through innovation, he continues to make the company a leader in environmental and social responsibility. Under his guidance, YUM! has eliminated the release of almost 1.2 million metric tons of CO2—that’s the equivalent of removing 225K cars off the road!
McClendon and his team created a streamlined path to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, LEED, for his design and construction teams called the Blueline—a sustainable restaurant design, build, operate, and maintain standard. It uses key restaurant relevant aspects of LEED paired with the proven, actionable solutions in areas such as lighting and optimized hood exhaust. With the Blueline standard approach, he’s overseen the construction of over 30 LEED certified restaurants across nine countries and has reduced YUM!’s energy consumption by a staggering 30% in Shanghai and Beijing. The Blueline technologies have been scaled and implemented in over 5,000 Yum restaurants around the globe to date and continues to expand.
To further promote energy efficiency and find more routes to reduce YUM!’s carbon footprint, McClendon has garnered the support of the United States Green Building Council as well as the US Department of Energy’s Better Building Alliance and the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers.
McClendon has 30+ years of manufacturing plant operations and restaurant experience paired with expertise in engineering, new product development and quality assurance.
He asserts, “My UC CEAS engineering education was paramount in developing my professional skills and applying the academic theory to the real-world. These life-long lessons and skills coupled with my technical skills became a competitive advantage along my career journey including the position I hold in my company today.”
Prior to his current role, McClendon served as Senior Director of Yum! Brands Global Engineering and Facilities with a focus on energy and water conservation. He previously served as Senior Project Engineering Manager for Yum! Restaurants International (YRI), where he supervised KFC Global Engineering initiatives in Australia, the Americas, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. McClendon was also the Director of Global Engineering for Long John Silver’s and A&W Multi-branding.
Outside of the office, McClendon devotes his time and energy to giving back to the community that presented him with limitless opportunities throughout the years. He states his world revolves around Faith, Family, Community, and Career, in that order of priority as he calls it: F-squared, C-squared.