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Kelley School of Business

Last modified: Thursday, September 16, 2010

Cie Nicholson, Equinox's chief marketing officer, to join IU's Kelley School as Poling Chair

Sept. 16, 2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Cie Nicholson, an alumna of Indiana University's Kelley School of Business and executive vice president and chief marketing officer (CMO) at Equinox Fitness Clubs, is joining the school as a leader-in-residence.

Nicholson earned a master of business administration degree at the Kelley School in 1988 and was inducted into its Academy of Alumni Fellows in 2008. Earlier this week, she joined the top management at Equinox, which operates 48 upscale, full-service facilities in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Florida, Boston, San Francisco, Dallas and Washington, D.C.

The privately held company offers an integrated selection of Equinox-branded programs, services and products, including strength and cardio training, group fitness classes, personal training, spa services and products, apparel and food/juice bars.

Nicholson previously was senior vice president and chief marketing officer of Pepsi-Cola North America and left the company in 2008 after more than a decade with the beverage giant.

She also is involved in two start-up companies,, a socially responsible activity site that donates 70 percent of its ad revenues to the charity of the game player's choice; and, a company that produces front-hanging pouches similar to baby carriers, except that they're for small dogs.

As is customary, the Kelley Leader-in-Residence also carries the title of the Poling Chair of Business and Government, which was established in 1993 by Harold "Red" Poling, a Kelley School alumnus and Ford Motor Co. chairman and CEO from 1985 to 1994.

Nicholson will be the first woman to hold the Poling Chair. Its recipients are given the charge to stimulate discussion in the areas of leadership, the critical interactions between private business and government in matters of public policy, enterprise competitiveness and economic growth. She will interact with students and faculty at the Kelley School in Bloomington and Indianapolis through 2012.

"I hope that my professional experiences, with entrepreneurial start-up ventures as well as with an established industry leader, will allow me to shed light for students on the differences and unique opportunities each can offer," Nicholson said. "It seems like only yesterday that I was a student at Kelley, and I hope my insights as someone whose career path has taken me in both directions, helps them in charting their own futures."

Previous Poling Chairs have come from both the public and private sectors. They include Bob Eckert, chief executive officer of Mattel Inc.; Ronald Dollens, former president and CEO of Guidant Corp.; Samuel K. Skinner, former U.S. secretary of transportation and chief of staff to former President George H.W. Bush; Sen. Evan Bayh, who taught prior to his election to the U.S. Senate; Randall L. Tobias, chairman emeritus of Eli Lilly and Co. and former vice chairman of AT&T Corp.; Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Frank Popoff, former CEO and chairman of Dow Chemical Co.

"As one of the world's most important business schools, we strive to significantly affect the way our students approach complex decisions. One of the best ways to do this is to expose them to leaders who have faced extremely challenging business as well as personal career management decisions," said Dan Smith, dean of the IU Kelley School of Business.

"Cie's career to date is rich in the variety of her experiences ranging from senior level leadership at one of the largest and most visible companies on the planet to a social entrepreneurship start-up venture," Smith added. "She will connect with a variety of our students in ways that will not only affect their leadership acumen but also in how they think about managing their own careers. I truly believe that Cie will fundamentally expand what our students believe is possible in their lives. We are proud that she is a graduate of the School and honored to have her as our Poling Chair."

As CMO of Pepsi-Cola North America, Nicolson was responsible for the company's marketing strategies, overseeing brand and marketplace initiative development, advertising and media plus sports and grassroots marketing.

Before being named CMO in November 2005, she had served as vice president-non-carbonated beverages for PCNA. In this capacity, Nicholson raised the value of PCNA's entire non-carbonated beverage portfolio, including Aquafina, SoBe, Dole and the Tropicana juice drink line, as well as its joint ventures with Lipton and Starbucks.

She served previously as vice president-carbonated soft drink flavors, driving the expanded availability of Sierra Mist in the United States and continuing to innovate under the Mountain Dew trademark. Among her greatest contributions to the company's growth, Nicholson directed the 2001 launch of Mountain Dew Code Red, which quickly became the soft drink industry's most successful new product in 20 years.

In 2002, Nicholson was named Brandweek magazine's Marketer of the Year.

Nicholson joined PCNA in 1997 as director-fountain innovation. She then transitioned into director- and vice president-level Mountain Dew posts, setting marketing strategies for the entire Dew trademark. Prior to joining Pepsi, Nicholson spent nine years with R.J. Reynolds, where she last held the title of director-new brands. She also has a bachelor of science degree in bio-science from the University of Illinois.

She is a member of the board of directors for Selective Insurance Group and a former board member of the Association of National Advertisers.