Mr. Nichols graduated from Yale University with a degree in economics and attended UCLA for graduate studies. He is an honorary alumnus of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).
After experience in the aircraft industry and then in the mass media field, he joined the Caltech Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and served in positions related to the planning and management of pioneering space flight missions. Other assignments at JPL included Manager of Planning and Business Operations for Energy and Technology Applications, Manager of External Affairs, and Special Assistant to the Director. During this period, he also was a consultant to the UCLA School of Business Administration and conducted research on R&D management.
For three years, Mr. Nichols was resident Visiting Professor of Business Management assisting the Government of India in establishing and administering the Indian Institute of Technology, now a leading center for research and education at the undergraduate levels.
In 1983, he was appointed Director of the Caltech Industrial Relations Center. In this capacity Mr. Nichols directed an extensive executive education program encompassing the management of technology and innovation, leadership development, strategy and global operations, and new venture formation. In 1993, the Center was rated third in executive education worldwide by the Wall Street Journal, and its programs have reached thousands of executives and managers each year from technology based organizations.
He is founder of the Enterprise Forum in Pasadena and is co-author of Raising Money: Venture Funding and How to Get It, published in the United States and Japan. He was appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to the Board of Overseers of the Baldridge National Quality Award program. He also served on the advisory board of the Irish National Institute of Technology Management.