Tyson CTO departs company, responsibilities left to IT team

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Dive Brief:

  • Scott Spradley, EVP and chief technology and automation officer of Tyson Foods, has left the company, the company said in an SEC filing Monday.
  • At Tyson, Spradley, who joined the company in 2017, was responsible for establishing and driving strategies across the company’s technology platforms. Members of the IT team will take over Spradley’s responsibility, the company said. Tyson did not respond to requests for comment before publication.
  • If he signs the separation and release agreement, Spradley is expected to receive $1.4 million of severance pay — two times his annual base salary —  paid out over the next two years, according to the statement. Spradley will also receive more than $1.9 million in stock options, stock awards and a lump-sum payment related to the senior executive annual incentive compensation plan.  

Dive Insight:

The executive change comes two months after unexpected C-suite news at Tyson. In November, John Tyson, newly-named CFO of Tyson Foods, was arrested on charges of public intoxication and criminal trespassing, according to the Washington County, Arkansas Sheriff Department. 

After two separate reviews of Tyson’s arrest, board members backed him in December.

“The company and a committee of independent directors of the Tyson Board have separately reviewed the recent incident involving our chief financial officer, John R. Tyson,” according to a statement provided to CFO Dive by a company spokesperson. “The Board supports Mr. Tyson and has continued confidence in his ability to lead Tyson Foods as CFO.”

Corporate governance experts criticized the board for not taking a more aggressive stance and quicker action to address its CFO arrest. Now, the board will be tasked with either finding a tech exec to fill Spradley’s shoes or supporting IT staff as they assume new responsibilities.

Tyson invested $500 million in tech and automation from 2017-2020, in a push to add robots to factories. In a $90 million expansion project in Forest, Mississippi, the company invested in automation, designed to process more product for food service and retailers.

In its effort to reach sustainability goals, the venture capital arm of the company launched an initiative in March to focus on reaching sustainability efforts through technology.  

In November, Donnie King, president and CEO, announced that it had saved over $700 million across business units due to the company’s focus on digitalizing the supply chain and increasing automation, according to a SeekingAlpha transcript.

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