Beginning May 1, Kenneth Stevens, who made a name for himself as president of Taco Bell Corp., will get the opportunity to apply what he learned in the fast-food business to banking.
"What (chief executive) John McCoy is thinking is Banc One should be a consumer-oriented purveyor of financial services," said Mr. Stevens, the newly named chairman and chief executive of Banc One Corp.'s retail group.
Mr. Stevens has substantial experience working with consumer retailing businesses. As a consultant with McKinsey & Co., he helped develop "value" items for Taco Bell - a concept McDonald's was quick to borrow, creating "value meals."
For Banc One, there couldn't be a better time to be getting someone with Mr. Stevens' set of skills. Sales, marketing, and distribution at the branches are crucial to revamping retail banking on a national level, Banc One officials have said. Mr. Stevens will be one of the top executives in the company reporting to Richard Lehmann, Banc One president and chief operating officer.
At Taco Bell, Mr. Stevens was in charge of all facets of the operation, including new business development, marketing, and strategy for the food chain's 6,500 restaurants. As head of retail for the $90 billion-asset Banc One, he will oversee 56 banks with 1,500 offices.
Mr. Lehmann said Banc One was looking for candidates with "first and foremost, consumer marketing experience." The company also wanted someone with sales management experience, people skills, and a background in product distribution. Three of the 10 serious candidates for the job were nonbankers.
"When we went outside and looked," Mr. Lehmann said, "we talked to good people, but it didn't seem to me they brought anything to the table that we didn't already have here."
Though he has no banking experience, Mr. Stevens says he can apply basic sales tenets to bank branches.
At least one banking analyst that follows the company seemed pleased with the new hire. "It shows they're pretty committed to a strategy of developing a more sophisticated consumer franchise," said Michael Mayo, of Lehman Brothers.