Irvine, California - Taco Bell announced Monday that Melissa Lora, President, 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,” said Brian Niccol, CEO, Taco Bell Corp. “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 USC, Lora joined Taco Bell as an analyst in Development in 1987 and worked her way up within the Finance and Development departments. In 1998, Lora moved to the east coast and became Vice President General Manager Northeast, in charge of growing the brand in the region. After successfully growing Taco Bell, in 2001, she moved back to California. As Chief Financial and Development Officer for 12 years, Lora set the stage for Taco Bell’s record restaurant development and championed its industry-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 brand-building-focused strategy for global expansion. This year, Taco Bell International achieved record new restaurant openings, entering five new countries with growth-minded franchise partners.
Lora dedicated a lot of her time to growing others, helping countless mentees across the brand 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, Taco Bell International. Williams is currently Chief Financial Officer, and under her leadership, the company has been delivering 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 Chief Financial Officer, joining Taco Bell Corp. from KFC India. As General Manager, Shinde led the incredible transformation and turnaround of the KFC India Business. He defined a simple yet powerful business strategy, then built up a high-performing team focused on one-system culture. Under his leadership, the brand became distinctive, relevant, and profitable for the first time since its inception.