First Union National Bank executive Judge W. Fowler 4th is moving to First Data Corp. to head systems and programming operations for its card services group.

Mr. Fowler, 48, becomes the Omaha-based company's first president of professional services. He will report to Walter Hoff, First Data's executive vice president.

First Data described the new position as a big step toward creating a central point of management for system architecture, strategy, development, and support of hardware and software applications.

"The chemistry between First Data's leadership team and myself is very much in sync. They clearly have their act together," said Mr. Fowler, a 25- year veteran of information systems and the financial services industry.

As a leading priority, Mr. Fowler spoke of inspiring a "transition of culture from a mainframe bias to a multi-tiered architectural bias."

"First Data recognized that they needed to focus additional energies on customer service. Hiring a customer to come and run those units is evidence of that," said Mr. Fowler, pointing out that First Union has been a First Data business partner for the last five years and still receives royalty payments for Recovery 1, a loan recovery system.

Mr. Fowler had been with First Union National Bank since 1984, serving as senior vice president for systems architecture development and implementation. He worked previously as a vice president at Zions National Bank and a programming manager for First Tennessee Bank. Mr. Fowler got his start as a programmer and consultant with the Dynex Association in New York.

Mr. Hoff said that Mr. Fowler's record indicates he will be "instrumental in driving First Data's system and programming initiatives and in delivering superior client service."

Mr. Fowler received a bachelor's degree in economics from Mississippi College and a master's degree in business administration from Pacific Western University.

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