Studying the liberal arts empowers former Nike marketing executive to ‘just do it‘ 

Author: Jon Hendricks

Ken Dice ’87 credits his success to his curiosity. And, as a College of Arts & Letters student, Dice found plenty to discover.

The former vice president of global marketing for Nike Women majored in economics and computer applications at Notre Dame, but it was the variety of courses within the college — including art history, music, and German — that satisfied his always active mind.

“To this day, I believe the fact that I am a curious person, I want to understand how things work, and I'm willing to go deep enough — that has contributed to a lot of the success I have,” he said.

The diversity of his interests and studies helped Dice land his first job at advertising agency Leo Burnett in Chicago. From there, his career catapulted and he credits his broad Notre Dame liberal arts education for his success.

“I realized that a lot of the skills I got in the College of Arts and Letters helped me better accelerate through the (Leo Burnett training) program because it was like learning a whole new area of study,” he said. “And I was able to take the broad skills I had and go deeper into a subject.”

Dice continued to glean expertise and rose to executive marketing positions with McDonald's, Sony Electronics, the Discovery Channel, and Nike.

At Nike, Dice drove cultural change for the brand, such as reimagining what it meant to be a female athlete.

Leadership skills are critical for success, he said, and include actively listening, synthesizing information, and effectively relaying objectives.

“The ability to let people see their role in a bigger play, their position on a bigger team, their brick in a bigger wall, all that became really important to being a senior leader at a place like Nike,” he said.