Switch to corporate job ‘energized’ him
When Glenn Nunziata left Ernst & Young to join Smithfield Foods Inc. in 2015, the $15 billion global food company was in the early stages of a massive operational and cultural shift.
Called One Smithfield, the changeover was designed to better position the company to serve its customers.
“In one fell swoop, they integrated years of acquisitions and centralized the business,” Nunziata says.
During the past three years, he has helped Smithfield identify opportunities for improvement, maximize efficiencies, reduce redundancies and create action plans to reach its goals.
Ken Sullivan, Smithfield’s president and CEO, “told me what attracted him was my ability to put my business head on when thinking through accounting situations and not just anchor myself in rules and regulations,” Nunziata says.
At Smithfield, he leads the company’s finance, accounting, treasury, tax, risk management, human resources and IT functions. Nunziata also is a board member of the Smithfield Foundation, which provides scholarships to the children and grandchildren of company employees.
Nunziata say he knew he wanted a career in accounting when he applied for college at James Madison University where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees. “I have always enjoyed solving problems,” he says. “Growing up, I was attracted to the type of work that needed an answer.”
In 2015, Nunziata was driving his family to Walt Disney World when he got a call asking him to join Smithfield.
“Most people don’t voluntarily leave a Big Four accounting firm,” he says. Nonetheless, “I was excited that I would be able to exit that and jump into the role of CFO of a company.”
Professionally, “this energized me,” he says. “If there was ever a time to capitalize on a decision, this was the time.”
At Smithfield, Nunziata has championed a cultural shift that focuses on continuous internal measurement and assessment. His work has helped the company achieve three consecutive years of record growth.
During his 19 years with Ernst & Young, Nunziata “played a leading role in several strategic initiatives in the areas of human resources, quality and operational improvements,” says Blake Manners, an audit partner with the accounting firm. “He received multiple accolades during his tenure with the firm.”
Nunziata exemplifies what it means to be a servant leader, Manners adds. “He is the first one to raise his hand to help a colleague or tackle a challenge facing an organization. He fosters this leadership style in others, and, by doing so, he helps an organization reach its goals while supporting individuals as they pursue their own professional development objectives.”
Smithfield is a subsidiary of Hong-Kong based WH Group Ltd., which operates in six countries. Because of its foreign ownership, maintaining an identity as a U.S. company can be challenging. The company’s headquarters remain in Smithfield, where it was founded in 1936.
“One of the toughest parts of the job is serving global stakeholders,” Nunziata says. “This is a big job. One of the things I spend a lot of time doing is trying to balance and maintain the pride of being a Virginia company with [being part of] a global entity in Hong Kong.”