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James Lochner

In November 2009, Lochner was appointed chief operating officer of Tyson Foods—and by August 2010, the meat processing giant was posting record third-quarter earnings and sales. He and CEO Donnie Smith, who came into the top leadership positions at the same time, are widely credited in the industry as a winning team. Lochner began his corporate career with Oscar Mayer Foods in 1976, but he kept a foot in academia with an appointment to the CALS faculty two years later. In 1983 he joined the meat processor IBP, Inc. and kept rising through the ranks after Tyson Foods acquired it in 2001, serving as senior group vice president of fresh meats and margin optimization prior to his latest appointment. As chief operating officer, he aims to increase efficiency in all aspects of operations, he says.