“Who we are is a lot more important than what we do. Integrity, innovation, interpersonal skills, resilience and servant leadership are some of the important things that are necessary to be a good leader and are integral to success in business,” stated Donnie Smith, president and CEO, Tyson Foods, and keynote speaker at the 2013 IPPE College Student Career Program. Smith provided personal insight to more than 400 students from 25 universities about Transitioning from Academics to Industry. The annual program, held in conjunction with the International Poultry Expo, is sponsored by the USPOULTRY Foundation.
An alumnus of the College Student Career Program over 25 years ago, Smith is well versed in providing advice to students interviewing for jobs. He instructed them to, “Enjoy the process. Even if you don’t get your first job through this program, enjoy the process. Don’t worry about making mistakes along the way. Don’t agonize.”
“CEO’s are not born with silver spoons in their mouth. I went to the University of Tennessee as a pre-vet major; however, that field was not for me. That’s okay. A lot of things I’ve learned in leading this company, I learned through my work career. It is important to build relationships within your company and through clients,” said Smith. “Tyson currently has 115,000 team members; therefore trust and integrity in leadership is important,” he stressed.
He also provided some astounding statistics about the booming global population and the impending need for innovative agri-business professionals. “By the year 2050, the world’s population will increase by two to three billion. In the next 40 years, we will have to produce as much food as has been produced in the last 8,000 years with limited resources. Feeding the ever-growing world is a daunting task. Your generation is going to have to be the people that help grow twice as much food in that short amount of time. It is important to note the significant difference agriculture makes in the world and the difference that each of you can make in agriculture,” Smith concluded.
The College Student Career Program provides undergraduate and graduate students from colleges and universities across the nation and internationally, in multiple disciplines, with the opportunity to interview for jobs and internships with industry and allied companies. These students can also visit the exhibit floor to complement their studies, by seeing the latest technology and newest innovations in today's poultry and egg production and processing operations.
The program also includes student competitions for College Student Career Program Frank Perdue Scholarship Student of the Year, Club of the Year, and Scrapbook of the Year. Smith presented the annual Frank Perdue Scholarship Student of the Year Award to Ann Margaret Dietrich, North Carolina State University. The scholarship is named for Frank Perdue, noted for his dedication to aspiring young people studying for careers in the poultry industry. Auburn University took home Club of the Year, and Scrapbook of the Year was awarded to Penn State University.