Former Chief Executive Officer, Tyson Foods, Inc.
Donnie Smith’s passion for leadership has been the hallmark of his 36-year career in the food business. As president and CEO of Tyson Foods from 2009 to 2016, he led the company to focus on feeding the world great, affordable food, while also making a positive difference in people’s lives. Under his leadership, Tyson Foods achieved four straight years of record profits, multiplying stock value six times in seven years.
Throughout his career, Donnie worked to learn every angle of Tyson Foods’ business. He joined the company in 1980, working in poultry operations for seven years in Tennessee before moving to the company’s headquarters in Springdale, Arkansas, where he started as a commodity buyer. He was named director of commodity purchasing in 1991 and during the next several years added complementary responsibilities to his management portfolio: logistics, purchasing and information systems in 2006; and engineering, food safety and quality assurance, and environmental health and safety in 2007. He moved into the company’s consumer products division in 2008 and was named senior group vice president of poultry and prepared foods in early 2009, the same year he was appointed as president and CEO.
He now serves as a consultant for Tyson Foods, while also focusing on his continued work to feed the world. He and his wife Terry are native Tennesseans and have three children and one grandchild.
Donnie earned his bachelor’s degree in animal science from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and continues to be involved in his alma mater.