From sales to CEO, Hormel Foods leader values NMSU education

Jim Snee is the CEO, president and chairman of the board at Hormel Foods, where he leads 20,000 employees across more than 40 brands that generate more than $9 billion in annual revenue worldwide.

Jim Snee ’89 was in his final semester at NMSU, preparing to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in marketing, when he was offered a job to work in retail sales for Hormel Foods in San Francisco. His first day on the job was June 5, 1989.

More than three decades later, Snee still works for the global food company, based in Austin, Minnesota. But he’s no longer in retail sales. In the years that followed his arrival at Hormel Foods, he worked his way up, and now serves as the company’s chairman of the board, president and chief executive officer, leading 20,000 employees across more than 40 brands that generate more than $9 billion in annual revenue worldwide. 

Hormel Foods is one of the most admired global-branded food companies in the world and is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange. 

“If I had to sit down and write the script for my professional career the day I graduated from New Mexico State,” Snee says, “I would’ve never been so bold to think this was in the realm of possibility.

“The education that I received from NMSU, the success of the company, and my ability to deliver results all came together in unison and allowed me to continue to advance and achieve what I’ve been able to achieve,” he says. 

Snee, who’s originally from Albuquerque, came to NMSU in 1985 to study business computer systems in the College of Business. However, he realized he was better suited for marketing and switched majors. As a student, Snee played intramural sports and joined the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity. He also met Tammy Atwater ’90, whom he later married, and who also graduated from NMSU with a political science degree.

“I always felt at home at NMSU,” he says, “and I think that speaks volumes about the culture of our amazing educational institution.”

After NMSU, Snee furthered his education while working for Hormel Foods. He earned a master’s degree in business administration from the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota and participated in Harvard Business School’s executive leadership and management programs.

Over the next decade, Snee advanced within the company’s leadership team, starting in 2008, when he was named vice president of affiliated business units. In 2011, he became the leader of Hormel Foods International, overseeing the company’s global portfolio. Between October 2015 and October 2016, he was named president, chief operating officer and then CEO. In 2017, he was elected to serve as chairman of the board of directors.  

Snee is the 10th president and CEO in Hormel’s 128-year history.

“There’s a multitude of things this job touches,” he says, “but more than anything, I’m the cheerleader, the champion and the spokesperson for not only how successful the business is, but all of the good things that the organization is doing that perhaps people don’t realize.”

Carlos Andres López ’10