Tyson Foods recently announced current President Dean Banks will succeed Noel White as our next CEO, effective October 3, 2020. Noel, who has served as CEO for two years, will assume a new role as executive vice chairman of the board of directors.

The following Q &A with Noel and Dean provides more information on this announcement, Dean’s path to leadership at Tyson Foods and what lies ahead for the company.

1. How did Tyson Foods come to this decision?

Noel: This announcement is part of a long, deliberate and thoughtful process our board initiated quite some time ago. There’s never a perfect time for transition. But Dean has been actively involved the entire time we’ve been dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. He and I have worked through this together, and I have complete confidence in how Dean has dealt with this crisis.

2. What makes Dean the right person to lead Tyson Foods into the future?

Noel: He has a strong background in entrepreneurship, technology and health that will serve him well in this role. This includes leadership experience at X (formerly Google [x]), SEED Ventures, IntraCelluar Technologies (now Vergent Bioscience), Cleveland Clinic Innovations, the Ohio Orthopedic Commercialization Center and more.

While our industry is very labor intensive, we do believe there are improved processes that can be put in place using automation and technology. Dean’s background in this area makes him an ideal fit for addressing our company’s evolving needs. 

Given the time he has already spent in a leadership role at Tyson Foods, he’s familiar with the company and understands culturally who we are as a group.

Dean: I’ve spent quite a bit of time with Noel, engaging with him and gaining a deep understanding of the dynamics and the history of the industry. I’ve learned what really drives this business.

In my previous experience with life sciences and biotechnology, I learned that the intersection between food and health are inextricably linked, and I was exposed to the food safety and quality assurance areas of the food supply industry.

I’m excited to see what the future holds for Tyson Foods with technology and automation. The COVID-19 pandemic really brought to the forefront the drivers and the mechanisms inside the industry and it’s given me an opportunity to really accelerate that process.

3. Will team member safety continue to be a top priority?

Dean: We are a company squarely focused on team member safety as our top priority and we’re willing to do things differently in order to show leadership in this area.

Noel: Our team members have taken seriously the precautions that are necessary not only at work but at home as well. We’re not through the pandemic, but I’m confident we are in a strong place as a company.

4. Dean, what inspires you about those you work alongside at Tyson Foods?

Dean: I’ve been able to spend a lot of time in the field with our plant managers and frontline workers at Tyson Foods facilities across the country. It’s been quite comforting to meet the people who are doing such hard and important work. Tyson Foods is a large company, but it feels like a small family everywhere you go. I’ve found some phenomenal people that wake up every single day and think about doing the right thing and feeding America and taking care of each other. It’s been a heartwarming experience.

5. Noel, how would you reflect on your time as CEO of Tyson Foods?

Noel: I’m proud of the more than 37 years that I’ve been part of Tyson Foods and IBP and especially honored to have led this company as CEO over the last two years. Together, we’ve helped grow the business here in the United States and internationally. We’ve adapted to change and worked hard to make sure that we continue to meet the needs of our customers and team members.

6. Dean, what does the future hold for Tyson Foods?

Dean: I do believe Tyson Foods may very well be the largest family in the world. Under Noel’s leadership, we’ve worked hard to lay a strong foundation for this company. Now, we have the opportunity to lead the way in feeding the world. We’ll do so with technology and innovation to deliver sustainable growth and provide an exceptional work environment.

I am confident that we will continue to thrive together as a company for decades to come.

Dean Banks