Enterprise Holdings Inc.'s Chief Executive Officer, Pamela Nicholson, will retire from the company at the end of this year. Her successor will be named after a meeting of the company’s board of directors in December.
Nicholson is only the third CEO in the privately held company’s more than 60-year history and the first to come from outside the Taylor family, which founded the company in St. Louis in 1957. She is not only the highest-ranking woman in the entire U.S. car rental industry, but also the highest-ranking woman among the world’s largest travel companies and, based on company revenue, among the top female CEOs across all industries.
For the past 13 years, Nicholson has been named to Fortune magazine’s annual list of the “Most Powerful Women in Business.” Enterprise employees have also voted her in as the highest-ranking woman among 100 chief executives who earned a Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Award, which recognizes the job and recruiting site’s highest-rated CEOs.
“Pam Nicholson is more than a dynamic and inspiring business leader. She is the quintessential Enterprise success story – the personification of our company’s promote-from-within culture,” said Enterprise Executive Chairman Andrew C. Taylor. “She joined our company fresh out of college and rose from a Management Trainee behind the rental counter to our top leadership team through a combination of great management skills, keen business instincts and just plain hard work. She has played a critical role in taking Enterprise from a regional car rental company to a global provider of total transportation solutions. In recent years, she was instrumental in driving an aggressive international expansion that has globalized our brands through a growing network of franchise partners.
Nicholson joined Enterprise in 1981 after graduating from the University of Missouri. The company had just topped 50 locations, operated a rental fleet of about 5,000 vehicles, and was generating some $80 million in revenue.
Today Enterprise Holdings operates – through an integrated global network of independent regional subsidiaries and franchises – the Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental, and Alamo Rent A Car brands, as well as more than 10,000 fully staffed neighborhood and airport locations in 100 countries and territories. It is the largest car rental company in the world, as measured by revenue and fleet, and – with its affiliate Enterprise Fleet Management – operates more than 2 million vehicles throughout the world. The company accounted for $25.9 billion in revenue in fiscal year 2019.
After rising through the ranks during her first 12 years at Enterprise, Nicholson was promoted to regional VP in the company’s Southern California regional subsidiary, which under her leadership grew from 1,000 to more than 27,000 cars in its fleet. Today it is the company’s largest regional subsidiary.
In 1994, Nicholson returned to her hometown of St. Louis to become a Corporate Vice President at Enterprise’s worldwide headquarters, overseeing 10 regional subsidiaries throughout the United States. She was instrumental in establishing the first national preferred provider rental agreements between the company and many of the top auto manufacturers. In 1997, Nicholson was promoted to the top job in New York, the company’s second-largest regional subsidiary. During her two years as General Manager, New York experienced excellent fleet growth and saw its profitability more than double.
Nicholson moved back to St. Louis after being promoted to Senior Vice President of North American Operations in 1999. She was named Chief Operating Officer in 2003, appointed President in 2008 and promoted to Chief Executive Officer in 2013.