Photo by Scott Henrichsen; venue courtesy of Greg Castanias
Throughout his life, Marc Nichols (Wabash College, ’92) has broken barriers and seen his share of “firsts.” From serving as the first Black American Lambda Chi Alpha High Alpha at Wabash College to working as lead counsel for Rolls-Royce and an executive for Saab, Inc., he is the epitome of a modern trailblazer.
Nichols credits much of his early success to his experience with Lambda Chi Alpha. As High Alpha at Wabash College, he learned critical leadership skills such as empathy, active listening and problem solving, which were critical to successfully leading and managing members with varying viewpoints and backgrounds.
As the chapter’s first Black American leader and a member of the LGBTQ community, many of Nichols’ young fraternity brothers had never interacted with a leader like him before. As he listened, observed and balanced his Brothers’ perspectives, he developed the tangible leadership qualities that have led him to great success.
“I think the reason why I got here, in part, is because of my experience with Lambda Chi,” said Nichols “People are going to have different perspectives. I learned to meet people where they are,” stated Nichols.
Putting his interpersonal and bridge-building skills to work, Nichols first secured employment out of school as a legislative aide for a U.S. congressman and later as a market analyst for a major bank before enrolling in law school. Post law school graduation, Nichols has served as a U.S. Inspector General and as a senior attorney at Rolls-Royce.
Today at Saab, a former automaker and now a leading aerospace and defense company, Nichols not only manages his own team, but he also acts as counsel to other senior executives with the company.
In the wake of the social and racial justice revolution that unfolded in 2020, Nichols is now broadening his leadership skillset to improve Saab’s diversity and staffing decisions. While Nichols believes that his company is off to a great start, he also believes that the task is far from done. To Nichols, it is now more important than ever to listen, observe and provide balance.
In a recent interview with a legal trade publication, he said, “I’ve always questioned everything, and I’ve always had interest in how institutions work—or don’t work. I’m forever grateful for the support I had growing up, and for the openness I’ve received pretty much everywhere—and Saab especially. I see it as my responsibility to mentor in this regard, to show people that their orientation or identity shouldn’t be an inhibitor.”
Nichols is excited to be part of the change and conversation at Saab, but will always remember his first role and the lessons he learned as a High Alpha at Wabash College.
His commitment to his principles and his life of leadership have recently led to another trailblazing moment for him at his alma mater; in 2019, Nichols became the 75th person, second African American and LGBT member to serve as president of the Wabash College Alumni Association.
Through his tenure, Nichols has expanded the diversity and scope of talent to bring in fresh voices.
Nichols has certainly made a name for himself in the business world and hopes to never forget those values that he learned from an early age from Lambda Chi.
“I think the reason why I got here, in part, a substantial part, is because of my experience with Lambda Chi and to remember who I am and the values I stand for and to represent those values,” said Nichols. “When you start living those values, really start living them and what they truly mean, people start to take notice.”
Nichols will continue to strive to not only better himself personally but work to add positive change to the world around him.