Donnie Smith, on the cover of Retail Leader.
If you want to learn a little more about Tyson Foods Inc. CEO Donnie Smith, you might check out this interview in Retail Leader magazine, where Smith talks about his goals for the world's largest meat processor -- and even a little bit about himself.
Smith, who's been CEO of the Springdale-based publicly traded company since 2009, talks about early aspirations to be a veterinarian, his path to Tyson Foods and the leadership traits he calls a formula for success.
He also recounts an early lesson in doing business:
"When I came out here [to headquarters] and was buying grain, I had a wonderful grain broker who taught me the lesson: Not every hill is worth dying on. Not every battle needs to be won. You need to win the war, not the battle," Smith says. He learned how to treat feedmill vendors after he turned off some of them. "I was ripping their heads off.... People didn't want to trade with us because I was being too tough on them," he recalls.
Smith also talks about Tyson's Discovery Center, a $45 million innovations lab the company set up in 2007. And he's cast as someone with very definite ideas about the messages Tyson Foods sends to its customers and business partners:
Throughout Tyson, employees understand Smith's desire to broaden the company's focus to keep up with consumers' changing tastes, says Chief Information Officer Gary Cooper. "Donnie understands how to make a message. He's pretty good at crafting a little slogan or message that communicates, 'Here's what we're trying to do,'" Cooper says.
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