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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

Head of international restaurant chain offers URI students tips about business

KINGSTON, R.I., -- April 29, 1999 -- Pete Bassi, the Providence native who now runs the international business that oversees Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and KFC, told University of Rhode Island students he likes employees with backbone.

"I like people who can walk into my office and tell me I am wrong, said Bassi, the president of Tricon Restaurants International Inc., who spoke recently before business and liberal arts students at URI as a visiting executive in residence.

Bassi, who majored in mathematics while earning his bachelor of arts from URI in 1970 and his master of business administration in 1973, said the company of the future will allow even greater independence for its workers. "There will be even less command and control, he said.

Responding to a question from a student about how he balances his work and personal lives, Bassi said, "The day the company is the most important thing in your life, then you are working for the wrong company.

"If you,re in love with someone who wants you home at 6:30 for dinner, then you need to make it happen. Don,t be working the night shift.

Bassi said until his senior year at URI, he did not know what he wanted to do with his life. While teaching science at an East Providence junior high school, he started his MBA at URI and focused on finance.

While an MBA student, he landed his first job with PepsiCo., and worked his way up the organization in various executive capacities.

Bassi spent 25 years with PepsiCo. Inc. and took over the international operations for Tricon when it was spun off from PepsiCo. in the fall of 1997.

The restaurant company has more than 29,000 owned and franchised restaurants in 95 countries. Its brands are the global leaders of the pizza, chicken and Mexican food lines. Asia is the dominant player in those figures, and on that continent, KFC is the dominant brand.

Bassi said Tricon Restaurants International experienced unrestrained growth in the early 1990s, but since 1995, the watchword has been discipline. "Discipline is the hallmark of success, Bassi said.

Bassi created a franchise support organization. "The most important people in our company are the restaurant general managers. We implemented a reward and recognition programs.

Managers who excel now receive the Globe Award, which consists of a softball painted to depict the globe, and $100 cash. The softball is meant to show the company can have fun in this competitive world, Bassi said. "People get choked up when you say I appreciate what you,ve done,, Bassi said.

The company seeks direction from its employees when new ideas are proposed.

He told the students that today leadership is about engagement. "Leadership today is listening to people and putting ideas into action, he said.

In offering one final bit of advice to the students, Bassi said: "If you have a really difficult decision to make, I would suggest you make it with your gut, not your head.

For Further Information: Dave Lavallee 401-874-2116

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