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Flying High
Erick Dickens
Evening MBA ’10
Brand Director, LifeLock

By Liz Warren-Pederson

Evening MBA student Erick Dickens entered the Eller program with significant experience. Not only was he moving up in Henkel as a brand manager — even leading seven product integrations with the NBC series Apprentice and Celebrity Apprentice — he also served in the U.S. Army for eight years, most recently as company commander of the Aerial Reconnaissance Support Company.

“My experience as a military officer is what got me into brand management,” he said. “It’s typically a role that requires an MBA. But my experience as a pilot and officer in the U.S. Army was my equivalent.”

Dickens went through the ROTC program, and graduated from Western Carolina University as a commissioned second lieutenant with an undergraduate degree in business management. From there, he completed flight school and was deployed to Bosnia, where he served as a platoon leader in support of the Kosovo Air Campaign in 1999.

“After serving four years flying UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters, I earned the opportunity to transfer to fixed-wing aircraft,” he said. Because the Army maintains such a limited fleet of fixed-wing airplanes, it’s an honor afforded to just one percent of the Army’s aviator population.

In that role, Dickens served as a company commander and flew aerial reconnaissance missions and global intelligence collection missions. “I was deployed to Columbia for four years,” he said, “and I also led the aerial reconnaissance support to the Federal Bureau of Investigations in the hunt for the Washington, D.C. sniper in October 2002.”

It was exciting work, he said, but dangerous — so when he and his wife decided to start a family, he changed career paths, transitioning to civilian life. “Leaving the military, I felt that my leadership training and experience were the most transferable skills,” he explains. “Brand management appealed to me because it’s a good starting point for a general management career.”

In 2006, he began his career in marketing consumer packaged goods as an associate brand manager with Kraft Foods, where he worked on Post Cereals brand. He then joined the Dial Corporation — now Henkel — in Scottsdale, where he most recently developed and commercialized new products for the Right Guard, Dry Idea, and Soft & Dri brands.

It was also at Henkel that he developed expertise in branded entertainment. In addition to leading the development of seven different product integrations for the Mark Burnett-produced Apprentice andCelebrity Apprentice programs, he also worked with Gene Simmons’ Jingles and Home & Garden Television’s Sell This House

Most of his work on these programs happened behind the scenes, but in integration from the most recent season of the Celebrity Apprentice, Dickens appeared onscreen to brief the contestants on the product line. “It was fun,” he said. “Even though I’d worked with the show several times, it was my first time on camera.” His prior experience with the show eased the intimidation factor: “It made me a little more comfortable than most!” he said.

While he was with Henkel, he entered the Eller Evening MBA program so that he could earn the graduate degree he needed to continue to advance without putting the brakes on his career. “Between my undergraduate degree and my work experience, I was a little skeptical about the increased education I would gain from an MBA program,” he said. “But I’ve been impressed and surprised at how much I’ve learned — Eller does a very good job of teaching the latest and greatest in business practice.”

In April, Dickens joined LifeLock as brand director, where he leads a team responsible for general management, advertising, promotion, member retentio,n and competitive response. “LifeLock is a very dynamic and fast-growing company,” Dickens said. “My new role provides a unique set of business and leadership challenges that require me to use all of my experience, training, and education to date. The Eller MBA certainly helped me secure this key position with one of the nation’s fastest-growing brands.”