Does new Qwest chief have the chops?

Will three years of hawking over-priced cutlery and gourmet pancake mix give Edward Mueller the edge he needs to keep Qwest Communications International on a comeback course? Mueller is Richard Notebaert's successor as CEO of Qwest, but most recently had been CEO of haute cooking retailer Williams-Sonoma.

Luckily. Mueller does have a telecom background, having been chief of former Baby Bell Ameritech (where he also succeeded Notebaert) earlier this decade. That makes his hiring entirely fitting and not very surprising, but is it an obvious win for Qwest investors, employees and customers?

If I was any of the latter, what I'd want in a new CEO is an emphasis on how to run services business (Ed's got that), a fresh perspective on running a telecom company (Ameritech experience is great, but a 60-year-old Bellhead replacing a 59-year-old Bellhead doesn't suggest a leap in imagination lies ahead), financial trustworthiness (this is easy-just be better than Joe Nacchio) and someone decisive enough to determine what Qwest should do about wireless and TV strategies as competition encroaches (experience with kitchen gadgets may not translate).

This isn't a bad move. Now, let's find out if it's a good one.

For more:
- Read this story in today's issue of The Wall Street Journal