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Tribute to innovation

In 2017, EMBAC debuted a new award to recognize innovation in the EMBA industry.

The Tami Fassinger Spirit of Innovation Award acknowledges practical, impactful, and cutting-edge contributions that change the EMBA experience and understanding of the EMBA world. These advances may happen in areas such as admissions, curriculum, format, operations, recruiting, alumni relations, or corporate outreach, as well as other aspects of program delivery.

EMBAC named the award after its first recipient: Tami Fassinger from Vanderbilt University.

Based on merit, the award may or may not be given annually. A selection committee with two current board members and three members at large will decide on recipients based on nominations from members.

Pioneer and first recipient: Tami Fassinger
Tami Fassinger

At its 2017 EMBAC Conference, EMBAC announced the Spirit of Innovation Award’s first recipient: Tami Fassinger, chief recruiting and admissions officer at Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management.

Fassinger has spent much of her career helping MBA students with their careers. As the first associate director of career planning at Owen, she worked with her team to promote national visibility among recruiters for MBA students and developed a suite of career services. Her efforts led to record placement of classes and a TOP 5 ranking of career services offices in Business Week. She also co-authored a popular career business book, Adams Job Interview Almanac.

As associate dean, Executive Programs, for Owen from 2004 to 2011, Fassinger launched the master of management in health care, increased the class size of the EMBA Program, helped improve student satisfaction with the program, and grew revenues for non-degree programming.

A long-time contributor to EMBAC, Fassinger was elected to its Board of Trustees in 2016 and helps in shaping EMBAC’s research initiatives. 

In creating this award, EMBAC wanted to acknowledge such innovative and pioneering efforts to change the industry, says Michael Desiderio, EMBAC executive director. “Tami embodies the spirit of pursuing novel ideas that help advance the industry.”

EMBAC also decided to re-name the award after Fassinger. It is now known as the Tami Fassinger Spirit of Innovation Award.

“I can’t think of anyone more worthy to bear this honor,” says Elmer Almachar, 2016-2017 EMBAC board chair. “An industry strategist, leader, and innovator, she is perhaps above all else our teacher, our role model, and our mentor.”

Ideas are a currency for Fassinger. “I tend to be an idea generator,” she says. “The blank page was always my favorite thing. I try to see things in different ways.”

Fassinger credits her teams for their innovative work in taking ideas and turning them into successful efforts. Staying open is important, she says.

“In my career, I was always trying to be approachable,” she says. “People could tell me what was really in their heart and know I wouldn’t judge it.”

In addition, she listens carefully to people and their stories and also networks – both of which are important to her success as well. “I love being networked. This industry group is a networking group that I rely on a lot.”

For additional insights on careers services, EMBA, and more, visit Fassinger’s blog.


2017 / Tami Fassinger, Vanderbilt University