One month after graduating from the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith, Allyson Peek was faced with a critical decision about her future.
Banking, or chicken?
Peek spent the last semester of college as new accounts supervisor for one of the city’s largest banks. She said she could see herself working there “forever,” but through other professional contacts, she was recruited to OK Foods in January 2016.
High-level executives at both organizations were giving her the big sell, and Peek said she relied a lot on guidance from the Mentors Connection program at UAFS, one of several groups she formed a close bond with while in college.
“It was stressful,” Peek recalled. “But that was a great connection to help me. They helped me through that period to determine exactly what I want for my future.”
At OK Foods, Peek, who is from the small town of Avery in northeast Texas, is one of two employees responsible for managing U.S. retail sales for one of the world’s largest fully integrated poultry companies. She manages sales of approximately 30 million pounds annually across multiple retailers and retail chains. Without any previous experience in the poultry industry, Peek says she’s had to be a fast learner. That’s pushed her to become a better employee, and it’s not going unnoticed.
“Allyson has shown great communication skills and work ethic in learning our industry and meeting with buyers from all over the country,” said OK Foods CEO Trent Goins. “She’s taken on many new responsibilities and shown great leadership ability.”
If Peek’s professional resume can one day match her accomplishments at UAFS, she will be on the right path. She earned a finance degree in just three-and-a-half years, and during senior year, her peers chose her homecoming queen, Panhellenic president and Greek Woman of the Year.
She’s already beginning her civic involvement. Peek will graduate this month from Leadership Fort Smith, where she is thought to be the youngest participant in the program’s three decades.
Peek, recently engaged to be married next spring, said being a strong advocate for the Fort Smith region is a personal goal.
“I chose to put roots down here after I graduated, so I want to do all that I can for our community,” she said. “I chose to stay in Fort Smith, so I want to grow Fort Smith.”