New president at Tyson ready for spot on team


A former Hillshire Brands Co. executive has made his way to Tyson Foods’ top ranks more than a year after Tyson’s $7.7 billion acquisition of the company.

Tom Hayes, former chief supply chain officer for Hillshire, soon will make the trek from Tyson’s Chicago office to Springdale and move into Tyson’s executive offices to help steer the company as its new president.

Hayes is now one of the top-ranking executives at Tyson, filling the position that can be a steppingstone to chief executive officer at many companies. He was named president last week. Donnie Smith, Tyson’s CEO, formerly held the title of president. Smith remains the company’s CEO and is on the board of directors.

“Few people enjoy being told what to do, almost everyone enjoys being part of a high-performance team,” Hayes said. “When I think about leading, I am constantly thinking about how I like to be led.”

After the purchase of Chicago-based Hillshire, Hayes was at the center of combining the two companies. He said his first role as a Tyson employee was to organize the people who would work on turning two distinct companies into one.

“Knitting the businesses together without damaging our unique advantages was no small task,” Hayes said. “Each company, though different, had equal amounts of pride.”

Hillshire is playing a major role in Tyson’s efforts to refocus the company around branded products instead of commodities, which are volatile and can change the company’s bottom line quarter to quarter.

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