Monica Gileta always knew she’d have a desk in a Tyson Foods office one day.
“When I was in high school,” she said, “I got an after-school job cleaning the corporate offices in Dakota Dunes. It was the perfect job because of the hours, and I could still work on homework in the cafeteria on breaks. I’d be walking around the desks at night and see there’s all these things being worked on – it was just exciting to me.”
The excitement stayed with her. After high school she went to college for her Associate’s in applied science – “Because people say, ‘There is job security in medical for sure.” – but after seven years in the medical field, she felt she’d hit her ceiling. She wanted more.
“I never forgot about Tyson and the feeling I had when I was here.”
She decided it was time to get her foot in the door and took a job in documentation for Tyson Foods’ Hides and Tanneries. Six months later she moved to accounting and went back to school to study for her Bachelor’s in business management, always keeping an eye out for management positions within Tyson. “That was my goal.”
A position in sales opened up, and Monica got her desk.
“I’d only ever seen these customer names on paper. But now I get to talk to them, to see what they’re involved in, and how we work with them.”
As a sales account manager, “Monica is fearless in taking on a new challenge,” said Vice President of Hides and Tanneries Mike Larson. “One of the most critical areas she has taken on for us is the sustainability demands of our business. Our customers have come on very strong with traceability, sustainability, land management, and carbon sequestration. She has excelled in the challenge to meet the customers’ needs and guide us in these areas not only as our customers dictate, but what we need to do to advance in these areas.”
She’s taken on projects like piloting a biodegradable packaging initiative for product exports and working with customers on leather traceability efforts. The biodegradable packaging is sourced from a U.S.-based company and is currently in trials. Since Tyson’s hides are exported all over the world to be turned into shoes, furniture, and other leather goods, the packaging must withstand time and travel.
“I brought the information to the customers, and they were interested. Then we were off and running,” Monica said.
For traceability, she’s spearheaded a project providing customers with data to pinpoint source locations of hides used in leather goods for companies like Timberland. The research includes documenting a variety of location certifications, such as sustainable material and environmental and chemical management, and environmental and community programming.
“We are the beginning of the leather industry,” Mike said. “The finest leathers in the world all start with the hide.”
Tyson Foods is one of the largest hides providers in the world. We are members of the Leather Working Group (LWG), which works to advance traceability and implements an environmental compliance and performance capabilities assessment of leather manufacturers. Each of our tanneries is audited by LWG, and we have received numerous awards for our performance. Recently, all our tanneries received the Leather Working Group Gold Rating, meaning they’ve met the highest environmental standards and performance set by the LWG.
“It’s timeless,” Monica said of the leather industry. “Centuries ago, people were making leather and using leather. We’re keeping that tradition alive.”