JOHN S. LEWIS Executive vice president First Interstate Bancorp., Phoenix

John S. Lewis possesses a highly desirable skill in this age of merger mania: the ability to consolidate operations with minimum upheaval.

As executive vice president of First Interstate Bancorp's southwest region in Phoenix, he has helped meld seven bank entities into one unit.

"John has been the glue holding all this together," said William Randall, chief executive for the region and Mr. Lewis' boss. "It takes a person with an intense understanding of the human resources aspects to make this consolidation happen."

Among other challenges, Mr. Lewis had to convert seven groups of directors into "advisory" boards without alienating anyone.

Such people skills were honed over many years at First Interstte. Except for a one-year stint with a Nevada competitor, the 38-year-old banker has always worked for the Los Angeles-based company. He relocated for the company several times within Nevada., spent three years in Portland, Ore., and handled such diverse areas as operations, human resources, and retail banking before taking the Phoenix post.

Now responsible for administration of the six-state southwestern region, which has $13.5 billion in assets, he oversees human resources, marketing, legal, bank properties, and other support services.

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