Amy Tu knows exactly what it means to operate at a world-class level. Currently an executive vice president and the general counsel for Tyson Foods, a leading producer of chicken and one of the largest food companies in the world, Tu has spent her entire legal career coordinating with multinational business leaders, operations, and corporations and pinpointing precisely what they needed (and expected) from their business partners. At Tyson Foods, Tu continually inspires and guides her team members to ensure that both they and the company meet the highest standards possible.
An Arkansas native, Tu has long been inspired by the remarkable individuals around her. In fact, Tu’s decision to complete her undergraduate studies at Wellesley College was influenced by one of the most prominent figures in the state.
“I remember receiving a phone call from Hillary Clinton,” Tu told the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette (at the time, Clinton was the first lady of Arkansas). “I thought, ‘Wow, what is this?’ As I recall, she said that she hoped that I would consider Wellesley—a fantastic school, fabulous education, and lifelong friends. And after a visit to the college, I thought, ‘Absolutely.’”
Upon her graduation from Wellesley in 1989, Tu began working as a financial analyst in the prestigious investment banking program at Merrill Lynch. But just a few years later, she chose to leave both Merrill Lynch and the world of economics behind. That decision was spurred partly by an interest in volunteering for the presidential campaign of a candidate from her home state of Arkansas—one Bill Clinton.
In 1993, Tu enrolled in the JD program at the University of Arkansas School of Law, Fayetteville. She would go on to serve as international counsel at both Walmart and Gap Inc. before climbing the ranks to chief counsel of anticorruption and global law affairs at Boeing. Throughout her career, Tu cultivated an in-depth understanding of complex and cross-border transactions.
Indeed, as former Tyson CEO Tom Hayes commented to Food Business News in 2017, “Her breadth of global experience supporting business leaders and functions across a multinational corporation will be a tremendous asset as we continue to execute our growth strategy.”
Today, as executive vice president and general counsel at Tyson, Tu leads all of the company’s legal affairs as well as the compliance, audit, government affairs, and corporate communication functions. She also manages Tyson’s venture capital fund, which invests in companies dedicated to developing cutting-edge businesses, products, and technologies designed to help sustainably feed the world’s increasing population.
As the leader of the legal department, Tu constantly looks for ways to make sure that her team is working to the very best of their abilities. She holds regular talks with each member of her team, including her outside counsel partners. As she puts it, outside counsel are still very much part of the team and are key advocates for the company, which means that her legal team as a whole cannot reach a world-class level without the trust, support, and input from those attorneys.
“I love working with my colleagues. I love what we’re trying to do,” Tu said in an interview with the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette. “You’re working with a group of people…who are communicating, all the time, and who are working in a common direction with one strategy and one purpose. We all have different opinions about things, but the environment that has been created is one that is collaborative and communicative.”
Going forward, Tu is determined to maintain—and exceed—the quality of counsel she has provided since joining Tyson in December 2017. “I’m going to do my best for the company and for the legacy of the company,” she told the NWAD.
Growing up in Arkansas, Amy Tu was known for her kindness and compassion: she participated in various fundraisers her younger brother, who was born with cerebral palsy, and even went with him to participate in the Special Olympics. Since then, Tu has also served as a committee member for the Special Olympics.