Given to the Fraternity in 1980 by Brothers James J. Nance, Ohio Wesleyan 1923, and Dr. John D. Millett, DePauw ’33, the Nance-Millett Free Enterprise Award recognizes a Phi who has made an outstanding contribution to the free enterprise system. This year, Phi Delta Theta recognized Brother Brian Niccol, Miami ’93, as the 2023 recipient of the Nance-Millett Award.
Brian R. Niccol is the chairman and chief executive officer of Chipotle Mexican Grill. Since assuming his position in March 2018, Chipotle has seen accelerated business growth. He has focused on delivering operational excellence, increasing brand equity, expanding restaurants, growing digital access, fostering innovation, and encouraging engagement with employees and consumers. Over the last five years under his leadership, Chipotle has grown revenue by 97 percent, expanded average unit volumes from $1.9 million to $2.9 million, expanded restaurant level margin by 770 basis points, grew earnings per share by 475 percent, added over 35,000 jobs with 750 new restaurants including more than 600 Chipotlanes and drove a 600 percent return in the Company’s share price. Today, Chipotle is the third most valuable restaurant company on the New York Stock Exchange, employing over 100,000 purpose-driven individuals working to cultivate a better world daily.
Chipotle has received multiple awards, with Niccol as CEO. This includes being named one of Fortune’s Most Admired Companies, Forbes’ Best Employer for Diversity, Fast Company ‘The World’s Most Innovative Companies,’ as well as Newsweek ‘America’s Most Loved Companies’ and ‘America’s Most Responsible Companies.’
Brian Niccol is a well-known name in the business and leadership world, as he has received recognition from various institutions, and has been placed on the notable CEO lists of Fortune, Bloomberg, and Barron’s. He was also named ‘Leader of the Year’ by Nation’s Restaurant News, and a ‘Distinguished Alumni’ by the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
Prior to his position at Chipotle, Brother Niccol was appointed as chief marketing and innovation officer at Taco Bell in 2011 before he took up the role of president in 2013. While working with this organization, he successfully helped double system sales, opened 2,000 new restaurants, and transformed Taco Bell into a worldwide chain. Niccol managed the brand of Pizza Hut from 2007 to 2011, introducing online ordering and mobile access. He managed to make $5 billion in sales across 6,000 restaurants during his time at Pizza Hut. Niccol began his career at Procter & Gamble, where he spent ten years serving in various brand management positions.
Brian Niccol not only has a mind for business, but a heart and passion for people. He serves on the board of the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation, Chipotle’s nonprofit organization, and continuously drives the brand’s purpose of cultivating a better world. Brian also serves on the board of KB Home, one of the largest homebuilders in the US.
Niccol was initiated into Phi Delta Theta on April 26, 1993, by the Ohio Alpha Chapter at Miami University. He holds an undergraduate degree from Miami University and obtained his MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. He and his wife, Jennifer, a Miami merger couple collectively, out of their love and appreciation to their alma mater, Miami University, also generously founded the Niccol Family Scholarship. This scholarship provides full tuition, room, and board to at least one student in both the Farmer School of Business and the College of Creative Arts which helped cultivate their interests into dreams while both studying at Miami.
Brother Niccol is a dynamic leader who offers new and innovative ideas to produce extraordinary results while cultivating a better world and delivering unique experiences to consumers worldwide.
For his long and continued support of the Free Enterprise system, Phi Delta Theta International Fraternity is proud to honor Brian Niccol with the Nance-Millett “Free Enterprise” Award.