Tyson Foods Announces New Leadership Team

Tyson Foods Announces New Leadership Team
From left, Tyson CEO Tom Hayes; Sally Grimes, president of North American retail; and Andy Callahan, president of North American food service and international. (Composite photo)

Tyson Foods Inc. of Springdale on Tuesday announced an overhaul of its leadership team, a change under new CEO Tom Hayes, who took over the meat processor on Dec. 31.

As part of the reorganization, three long-time executives are leaving the company: Donnie King, president of Tyson's North American operations, who has been with the company since 1984; Sara Lilygren, executive vice president of corporate affairs, who had been with the company since 2002; and Gary Cooper, chief information officer, who has been with the company since 1985.

The company said the departures will take place "over a period of months" to allow time for a "seamless transition."

"These important changes better align our management structure to our purpose and strategy," Hayes said in a news release. "This new structure and will facilitate efficiency and growth, as well as lay the foundation for strong leadership and management continuity. I'm deeply proud that we were able to fill most of these roles from within, tapping the abundance of talent and dedication we have here at Tyson Foods."

Bob Williams, senior vice president and managing director of Simmons First Investment Group in Little Rock, said the reorganization of Tyson's leadership team doesn't come as a surprise. He said the company has been steadily transitioning from a commodity-based business model to one that relies more on value-added products — such as the brands it acquired along with The Hillshire Brands Co. in 2014.

"It's not unusual after a big merger to have a shakeup," Williams said. "It's not terribly unusual. It's not surprising to me they're bringing in more Hillshire people to go in that direction."

Three of the promoted members of the leadership team joined Tyson from Hillshire, which Tyson acquired for $8.55 billion in 2014. Hayes was chief supply chain officer at Hillshire at the time of the acquisition and, after joining Tyson, served as president of food service, chief commercial officer and then president of the company before replacing Donnie Smith as CEO.

Former Hillshire executives named to the new leadership team are Sally Grimes, Andy Callahan and Mary Oleksiuk.

Here's a look at the complete team, which will report directly to Hayes:

  • Andy Callahan, president of North American food service and international. Callahan also joined Tyson in the merger with Hillshire, where he was president of Hillshire's retail business. At Tyson, he has been managing retail consumer brands, including the legacy Hillshire consumer brands, Tyson's consumer brands and Hillshire's Gourmet Food Group.
  • Mary Oleksiuk, chief human resources officer. Oleksiuk, former chief human resources officer for Hillshire Brands, joined Tyson in 2014 as chief human resources officer, replacing Ken Kimbro, who retired.
  • Monica McGurk, chief growth officer. McGurk joined the company in April as president of food service and executive vice president of strategy and new ventures. She previously worked as senior vice president of strategy, decision support and e-commerce for the Coca-Cola Co.'s North American Group.
  • Dennis Leatherby, chief financial officer. Leatherby joined Tyson in 1999 and has been CFO since 2008.
  • Scott Rouse, chief customer officer. He's held the position since last year and has been with Tyson since 2005.
  • Devin Graham, interim chief technology officer. Graham has been chief technology officer since 2005.

Another C-level post, chief sustainability officer, is open, the company said.

"Tyson Foods' new senior leadership team will increase focus on consumers, customers, technology and sustainability," the company said in a news release. "Clear priority and accountability in these four areas, coupled with a structure designed for collaboration and agile decision-making, position the company for continued success in a changing market."

The changes come one week after the publicly traded company (NYSE: TSN) reported what it called its most successful quarter ever, with net income attributable to Tyson at $593 million, or $1.59 per share, up from $461 million, or $1.15 per share, a year earlier. Quarterly sales were $9.18 billion, up from $9.15 billion.

Both earnings per share and revenue beat analyst expectations, and earnings per share and operating margins for the company's pork and beef units reached record highs in the quarter.

But the same day it announced earnings, it also disclosed that it received a subpoena from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, likely related to allegations that it conspired with rivals to fix chicken prices. Tyson has denied the accusations.

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