Meet the Chairman’s Circle: Matt Dunbar

Matt Dunbar didn’t know much about Memphis when he moved his family here in 2023 so he could work with Cargill’s cotton group. But the city quickly grew on him. “There is something to be said for Southern hospitality, and my entire family is settling in very nicely,” he said. “For me, what is exciting about Memphis is the community. You can see how passionate people are about their city, and they want to see it thrive. You don’t find this passion in other large cities. That sense of shared purpose is contagious.”

Matt is managing director at Cargill Cotton. He has worked at Cargill for more than 15 years, spending 14 years in risk management before moving to the company’s cotton group last year. He grew up in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area and has spent time working there and in Boston, Miami/Ft. Lauderdale and Guatemala.

He earned his bachelor’s in marketing from Boston College, then moved to Guatemala to learn Spanish and work for the nonprofit Common Hope, which helps children, families and communities improve lives through education, healthcare, housing and family development. He planned to spend six months in the Central American country, but then he met Sara, who became his wife. Four years later the couple moved to Spain, where Sara finished her graduate degree and Matt started his MBA, which he later finished at the Opus College of Business at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis after joining Cargill’s risk management business.

Cargill has more than 100 employees in Memphis, more than 50,000 in the U.S. and more than 160,000 working in 70 countries. The 159-year-old company – that’s right, 159! – provides food, ingredients, agricultural solutions and industrial products with innovations and insights in a safe, responsible and sustainable way.

Cargill makes an outsized contribution to the Memphis community. In 2023 the company contributed $100,000 to organizations like Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, Feed the Need and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Memphis.

Matt is also personally generous giving his time to community efforts, serving on boards for New Memphis, Cotton Council International and The Seam, a software company founded by four cotton companies in Memphis, including Cargill, that provides trading and technology solutions enabling food and agribusiness companies to operate profitably and efficiently throughout a sustainable global supply chain.

Matt and Sara have three children: Sofia, 12, Oliver, 10, and Santiago, 6. “They keep us running,” said Matt. He embraces two pieces of advice: “Good decisions come from wisdom and wisdom comes from mistakes” and “The height of ignorance is thinking you know everything.” He plays ice hockey with a team in Olive Branch for “old guys like me, which has been amazing,” according to Matt. His favorite book is “Salt: A World History” by Mark Kurlansky. “Working in commodities, I have always been fascinated by world history. I am a bit of a history nerd.” And it probably comes as no surprise that his favorite vacation spot is Antigua, Guatemala, where his wife is from.

When asked if there was anything else he’d like to add for this article, he said, “I’d just like to say thank you to the community that has been so welcoming in our first year in Memphis.”