Cynthia S. Nicholson (MBA '88)
Academy of Alumni Fellows 2008
Nicholson, who earned an MBA from IU in 1988, is senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Pepsi-Cola North America (PCNA), the refreshment beverage division of PepsiCo. She is responsible for the company's traditional marketing practices, overseeing brand and marketplace initiative development, advertising and media plus sports and grassroots marketing.
Earlier this year, she took on expanded accountability for innovation as well as strategy and insights.
Before being named CMO in November 2005, she had served since January 2004 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.
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.