Taco Bell announced today that Melissa Lora, president of Taco Bell International, will be retiring in the summer of 2018 after 31 years with the company.
“Everyone at Taco Bell has been positively impacted by the contributions of Melissa Lora over the last 30 years. I have had the privilege of working with many talented people, and Melissa is one of the brightest and most thoughtful leaders in the business,” says Brian Niccol, CEO of Taco Bell. “Her accomplishments have made an enduring impact on our people, culture, and business, and have paved the path for us to continue opening new restaurants around the world, pursuing our path to more than 9,000 restaurants by 2022.”
After receiving her MBA from the University of Southern California, Lora joined Taco Bell as an analyst in 1987. In 1998, Lora moved to the East Coast and became vice president general manager Northeast, and was tasked with growing the brand in the region. After years of success, in 2001, she moved back to California. As CFO and chief of development for 12 years, Lora set the stage for Taco Bell’s record restaurant development and championed its leading economic model.
In 2013, Lora was named president of international, a role that was created after Taco Bell took over international expansion from Yum! Brands. Her combined experience in general management, finance, development, and franchise management created a strategy for global expansion focused on building brand. This year, Taco Bell International achieved record new restaurant openings, entering five new countries with growth-minded franchise partners.
Lora dedicated much of her time to growing others, helping countless mentees build their leadership capability, resulting in her industry-wide recognition as an influential female leader.
Following Lora’s retirement, Liz Williams will step into the role of president of Taco Bell International. Williams is vacating the post of CFO. Under her leadership, the company has delivered strong returns, best-in-class margins, and financial performance that has taken Taco Bell’s restaurant growth to a 20-year high.
Rahul Shinde has been named division CFO, joining Taco Bell from KFC India. As general manager, Shinde led the transformation and turnaround of KFC India. He defined a simple yet powerful business strategy, then built a team focused on culture. Under his leadership, the brand became distinctive, relevant, and profitable for the first time since its inception.