Columbia Banking System in Tacoma, Wash., acted quickly to find a temporary leader.

The $9.6 billion-asset company said in a press release late Wednesday that Hadley Robbins, its chief operating officer, had become interim CEO. Robbins succeeded Melanie Dressel, who died unexpectedly on Sunday.

Columbia said its board will consider internal and external candidates as it searches for a permanent CEO.

Robbins joined Columbia as Oregon group manager in April 2013 after the company bought West Coast Bancorp, where he was chief credit officer. He became chief operating officer in March 2014, where he was responsible for Columbia’s operations and customer-facing business lines such as commercial and retail banking and wealth management.

Hadley Robbins, Columbia Banking's chief operating officer, was named interim CEO, succeeding Melanie Dressel, who died unexpectedly.

His career also includes positions at Wells Fargo Bank, Pacific Northwest Bank and First Interstate Bank.

Under Dressel’s leadership, Columbia grew from a relatively small bank to a regional power that is poised to exceed $10 billion of assets with its deal to acquire Pacific Continental. Dressel had been CEO since 2003.

William Weyerhaeuser, Columbia’s chairman, said earlier this week that it would be difficult to find a replacement for Dressel.

“Those are big shoes to fill,” Weyerhaeuser said. “It will be a challenge.”

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.