paul brown arbys
Just ask. Arby’s CEO Paul Brown, pictured, said that being an industry outsider allowed him to question long-held assumptions.

Paul Brown was hired as Arby’s CEO in 2013 and given the mission of revitalizing a tired, 50-year-old brand.

In 2011, the Wendy’s/Arby’s group split Arby’s off and sold a majority stake (while retaining 18.5% of its shares) to the private equity firm Roark Capital Group in 2011, after the sandwich chain posted a year with a $350 million loss.

Under the direction of CEO Hala Moddelmog, Arby’s closed underperforming stores around the world, began developing new menu items, and got onto a path of recovery. But Roark needed to see more.

Brown told Business Insider that although he had prepared extensively for his first day on the job, in May 2013, he was reticent about joining as an outsider. He was not only from outside of Arby’s, he was from outside the fast food industry — Roark hired him from the hotel group Hilton Worldwide. And on top of that, instability in the C-suite lowered employee morale and confused the brand’s direction — from 2006 to 2013, there were two CEOs, three CMOs, and three COOs.

Brown had predicted that it would be difficult to win the trust of…