Awards - Innovator Award




The MBA Roundtable Innovator Award Program is designed to recognize and promote educational initiatives that advance innovation in MBA education, and to acknowledge the institutions that are driving change in the field.




Three finalist schools have been identified for the 2013 Innovator Award:


Rice University -- Education Entrepreneurship Program that develops autonomous school leaders who can then become change agents to serve the needs of the Houston community.

University of Washington -- Student Leadership Initiative that includes experiential learning and direct integration of extracurricular and co-curricular activities with the academic curriculum.



Yale University -- Global Network Week that uses a many-to-many approach to bring MBA students from schools participating in the Global Network for Advanced Management together in a week long academic programs immersion.

Why Participate


Participation in the MBA Roundtable Innovator Award Program serves the field of graduate management education by:

  • Raising awareness about the importance of ongoing curricular and co-curricular development in MBA education,
  • Educating leaders in business and the field of graduate management education about the innovative practices of best-in-class MBA programs, and
  • Recognizing individuals and schools that are driving change in the field of MBA education.


The winner and finalists will benefit from the following:


  • Promotion and publicity through Innovator Award publications, web site, and press releases;
  • Presentation session at Leadership Conference in January 2014;
  • Feature in MBA Innovation, the MBA Roundtable's e-magazine; and
  • Scholarship for one person to attend the MBA Roundtable's Curricular Innovation Symposium.


  • Mention in Innovator Awards publications, web site, and press releases; and
  • Participation in MBA Roundtable-sponsored webinar featuring finalists and their initiatives.


2013 Entry Criteria


  • Entries are accepted from any business school that delivers an MBA degree.
  • The programmatic initiative(s) must be directly related to an MBA degree. Initiatives related to other graduate-level degree programs,(MSc, MA, MS, etc.) are not eligible.
  • Business schools are limited to one entry per school per year. 
  • The Innovator Award is focused on evaluating innovative programmatic initiatives.   The business school is the primary recipient of the award.  Specific MBA programs and the names of individuals or  team members from the business school may also be referenced.

Types of Initiatives

Entries will have demonstrated excellence in MBA programmatic innovation. Specific examples of such initiatives might include, but are not limited to: 

  • Curricular Innovation Process
    • Implementation of a unique and particularly effective curricular review process
  • Curricular Design Topics - Content, Pedagogy, or Program Structure
    • A program-wide curricular redesign with unique outcomes
    • Development of a new course or seminar
    • Creation of a new MBA program
    • Creation or re-creation of an MBA concentration or specialization
    • Development of an innovative co-curricular experience
    • Effective use of educational technologies to enhance student learning
    • Unique approaches to programmatic delivery
  • Curricular Outcomes and Assessment
    • Development of learning outcomes or assessment instruments
    • Quality measurement initiatives relative to the school’s unique mission

NOTE:  Entries are evaluated on a set of criteria, including Execution and Outcome.  We therefore encourage entries that feature initiatives that have been "tried and tested" over a period of time, versus those that are "brand new", i.e. have been developed, but not yet implemented.

2013 Evaluation Criteria

Entries will be evaluated on the following criteria. Please note that Execution and Outcome are important components for evaluation.  We therefore encourage entries with initiatives that have been "tried and tested" over a period of time versus initiatives that are "brand new", i.e. have been developed, but not yet implemented.  


Value proposition, educational impact, level of innovation or uniqueness, scalability and generalizability in other environments, impact on field of MBA education


Implementation effectiveness, representative cost savings or revenue growth, time to market, quality improvement tracking, complexity


Effectiveness of initiative, quality measures, expressed challenges and learnings


Quality of background materials, interview, ability to articulate impact, level of excitement and engagement

2013 Entry Process


  • Entry deadline:  Friday, September 27, 2013 @ 11:59pm eastern
  • Finalists notified:  Friday, November 8, 2013
  • Finalist interviews:  by December 15, 2013
  • Winner announcement and award presentation:  January 22-24, 2014 at GMAC/MBAR Leadership Conference in Fort Lauderdale, FL USA


1. All entrants are asked to complete a written overview (no greater than four pages) of their particular curricular initiative prior to Friday, September 27 @ 11:59pm eastern.  See details below.

2. Finalists will be identified by a screening committee made up of business school leaders, graduate management industry experts, and corporate representatives.  Selection will be based on the criteria set forth in the award announcement.  Finalists will be notified on Friday, November 8, 2013.

3. Finalists will be asked for additional background information and will participate in an interview with the selection committee between November 8 and December 15, 2013.

4. The selection committee will select the winner from among the finalists.  The winner will be announced and recognized at the GMAC/MBAR Leadership Conference, January 22-24, 2014 in Fort Lauderdale, FL USA.


1. Please email a pdf document no greater than four pages with an overview of your initiative to  This overview should contain the following information for consideration by the Selection Committee:

A. Brief description of business school and relevant MBA program(s)

B. Description of the programmatic initiative, explaining:

    Concept/Initiative: What was done?  For whom?  Why?  What market need was being met?

May include: overall value proposition, rationale for change, link to overall b-school mission, educational impact, scalability and generalizability in other environments, impact on MBA education

    Process and Execution: How was it done?

May include:  effectiveness and complexity of implementation, representative cost savings or revenue growth, time to market, quality improvement measurement

    Outcome and Measurement: Did it work?  How do you know?  What's next?

May include: quality or overall success measures, key learnings and challenges going forward, future iterations

 C.  Key contact information, including phone and email


Sample entries from 2011 finalists

Critical Thinking@Olin

Dalhousie University Corporate Residency Program


Sample entries from all of the 2012 finalists are available as well on the 2012 Finalists page.

Please direct any questions regarding the entry overview to or (610) 616-4593.

2012 Selection Committees


Screening Committee

Russell Ness, Ness Consulting

Russell Ness is lecturer, entrepreneurship programme supervisor, and Executive-in-Residence for Auckland University of Technology's (New Zealand) MBA programme.  He is also director of Ness Consulting and has served as director and head of Arthur Andersen's Human Capital Division and as a national training manager for Telecom NZ.  Active in the civic and arts community, he spent his early career as an author, illustrator, and artistic director and now serves on several community boards including Volunteering NZ and The Wilson Home Trust. 

JD Schramm, Stanford Graduate School of Business

JD Schramm combines over 20 years of professional training and development experience with his personal expertise in Management Communication to design and deliver a variety of highly interactive courses for MBA students at Stanford. In 2012 Schramm completed his Ed.D. through the Executive Doctorate Program in Higher Education at the University of Pennsylvania.  His dissertation focused on the study of curricular innovation in MBA programs, revealing a nine-point framework indicating what schools of management should strive to be, do, and have in order to foster and sustain curricular innovation.

Jacque Anderson, Center for Character Based Leadership

Jacque Anderson is a consultant with the Center for Character Based Leadership. Prior to joining the Center, she served as the Chief Learning Officer for McGladrey, the 5th largest Accounting, Tax, and Consulting firm in the US.  Earlier in her learning career, Jacque led the efforts to rebuild the custom Executive Programs business at the Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota.  In addition to her work in learning and professional development, Jacque has over fifteen years of experience in finance leadership roles at both Pillsbury and GE.  Jacque received her BBA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her MBA from the University of Chicago.

Selection Committee

Henry Eyring, Brigham Young University

Henry Eyring is Advancement Vice President at Brigham Young University-Idaho and author of the book, The Innovative University: Changing the DNA of Higher Education from the Inside Out with Clayton Christensen. From 1998-2002 he was the director of Brigham Young University's MBA program.

Stuart Kaplan, Korn/Ferry Leadership and Talent Consulting

Stuart Kaplan is the Global Chief Operating Officer and Education Industry lead for Korn/Ferry Leadership and Talent Consulting. As Global COO, Mr. Kaplan is a leader in the Firm's evolution to an integrated leadership and talent solutions consultancy.  As Global Education Industry lead, Mr. Kaplan works with universities and business schools around the globe to define and implement leadership development strategies and programs.  Mr. Kaplan earned an MBA degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and a BBA from the University of California, Davis.

Jackson Nickerson, Washington University in St. Louis

Jackson Nickerson is the Frahm Family Professor of Organization and Strategy at the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis, Senior Scholar in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution, and the Associate Dean and Director of the Brookings Executive Education. An award-winning researcher and professor, Jackson specializes in developing leadership abilities in the areas of strategic thinking, critical thinking, leading change, and innovation.

Casey Rasata, Eaton Corporation

Casey Rasata is currently the Global University Relations Manager at Eaton Corporation.  Prior to her global role, Casey was responsible for University Relations for North America, was a Campus Manager and was a Development Program Manager for both the MBA level Global Leadership Development Program and the undergraduate level Financial Leadership Development Program.  In these roles she has built and executed MBA recruiting strategies, established campus teams, and managed and promoted the Eaton brand at target universities. Casey holds a BA in accounting from Ohio University and an MBA from Cleveland State University. 

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2012 Winner

The LeaderCORE program

The UB School of Management launched LeaderCORE in fall 2010 as its educational response to the question, “What is at the core of every great leader?”

“We know from our work with corporate leaders that they want MBA graduates who are equipped with more than industry knowledge and technical ability,” said Nick Everest, faculty co-director of the program, along with Muriel Anderson. “They want employees who can transition seamlessly from business school to leadership-track careers and create value for their organization.”

LeaderCORE is a comprehensive leadership certification program that spans the entire two years of the full-time MBA program. The driving force of the program are the 10 core competencies considered vital by the business community for effective performance and successful leadership, including team leadership, problem-solving/decision-making, and self management and adaptability. These competencies are organized into three key leadership dimensions—people, thinking, and motivation—with integrity as the unifying value.

MBA students who apply and are accepted into the program undergo a rigorous assessment process to identify the leadership competencies they wish to strengthen, and this forms the basis of a customized personal development plan. Students take two LeaderCORE Development courses during semesters two and three, as well as additional courses and co-curricular activities mapped to the competencies. Coaches from within the school and the business community provide support to the students in meeting their development goals.

In their final semester, students are assessed, and those who are successful receive LeaderCORE certification. “With only one graduating class so far, we’re already seeing positive results,” said Anderson. “Our students have been successful in transitioning their skills to the work place and, as a result, we’ve had a number of prospective employers ask us to refer students who have participated in the LeaderCORE program.”

"This is exactly what business schools need to be doing,” said Rich Floersch, executive vice president and chief human resources officer for McDonald’s Corporation, and one of the executives consulted during the development of the LeaderCORE program. “Students who can work effectively both within teams and in leading teams will always be in high demand. LeaderCORE will ensure this development occurs before they enter the work force."

Read more about LeaderCORE here.  Register to attend our upcoming webinar, Thursday, February 28 at noon ET, by clicking here.

2012 Finalists

Finalists included a wide variety of curricular and programmatic initiatives, which judges evaluated in four principle categories—concept, execution, outcome, and presentation.

Auckland University of Technology’s Developing High Performance Teams Initiative develops the skills needed to create and participate in high-performing teams by combining theoretical study and practical knowledge of team performance. The initiative pairs classroom discussions, exercises, and assignments with the experiential learning of participating in a rowing team.  Click here to read more.

Fayetteville State University’s Integrated Distance Learning and Online MBA Program uses video conferencing technology and remote teaching centers to deliver online courses with the look and feel of a traditional classroom experience, helping the university better meet the needs of the area’s significant military and health care communities.  Click here to read more.

Monterey Institute of International Studies’ Frontier Market Scouts Program offers academic and experiential training to professionals aspiring to careers in social ventures or impact investing. The program features a rigorous two-week training session followed by a six-month internship with leading impact investors around the world. Click here to read more.

Rice University’s MBA Capstone Course provides teams of Professional and Executive MBA students the opportunity to research, assess, and develop detailed strategic plans for Houston nonprofits with critical challenges. The program benefits the nonprofit while providing students a meaningful way to apply classroom theory and concepts to a “real-world” problem.  Click here to read more.



2011 Award Winner

The Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis was chosen as the 2011 MBA Roundtable Innovator Award Recipient for its Critical Thinking@Olin initiative.

The Critical Thinking@Olin initiative was developed to address the need for more advanced critical thinking skills among MBA graduates. "This has become an issue for businesses around the world, and we wanted to create a new way to respond to this pressing employer need," said Jackson A. Nickerson, Frahm Family Professor of Organization and Strategy at Olin, who chaired the effort.

"Few business schools teach critical thinking, and those that do focus on argumentation, logic and fallacies," said Nickerson. “Olin has developed an educational approach with a different focus.  We focus on the ability to comprehensively formulate or diagnose problems. Through Critical Thinking@Olin students develop the ability to formulate and ultimately solve the right strategic problem the first time.”

Key to the multifaceted initiative is a standard inquiry process that helps students define problems without jumping to solutions. Students are first introduced to the process in orientation, using case studies, written assignments, and peer and self-assessments. Every course in the MBA curriculum is also required to incorporate critical thinking, and students are provided multiple resources that reinforce the content.

Critical Thinking @ Olin has had a direct and positive impact on student success in the job market. The rate at which summer interns receive full-time job offers doubled after the initiative's launch and employment rates for Olin MBA students, 90 days post-graduation, have been among the top schools for the past three years. Recruiter feedback offers many testimonials about Olin students’ improved ability to face today’s business challenges.

"Washington University's initiative addresses the gap I see in managerial thinking by emphasizing problem-solving and team-dynamics," said David Lifschitz, a member of the MBA Roundtable Innovator Award selection committee and president of Gehr Group, a Los Angeles-based diversified global holding company. "I look for these exact critical thinking skills in candidates for executive positions. Washington University has been very open about sharing its experience with other schools, so I think this could have a strong impact on the greater MBA community."

Members may learn more about Critical Thinking@Olin by logging in to the member portal and visiting the Webinar page or reading the article in the 2012 edition of MBA Innovation.

2011 Finalists

While the initiatives submitted by our 2011 finalists had very different focuses, each had pushed the envelope in MBA education. They represented innovative steps forward within some of the richest trends in graduate management education, including use of technology, incorporation of global perspectives, and more rapid curricular change processes. We're pleased to recognize the following finalists for their innovative work in MBA education.

Babson College, F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business, Wellesley, MA: Babson was recognized for its fast-track development of a common core curriculum and signature learning experiences for its four MBA programs. The goal of the redesign was to provide a standardized experience for students regardless of the program in which they enrolled; improve institutional efficiency; and strengthen the integration of skills critical to current business needs, such as ethics, communication, globalization, and technology. Using a thorough, but aggressive timetable, Babson completed the initial review, program development, and approval phase in 11 months. It launched its revised two-year MBA program nine months later, with the remaining programs scheduled to launch in the following 12 months. 

Dalhousie University, School of Business Administration, Halifax, NS: Dalhousie was selected for creating Canada's only Corporate Residency MBA. Designed for direct-entry students and those with limited business experience, the program features an eight-month paid work experience that allows students to apply knowledge learned in the classroom.  The corporate residency is paired with a 22-month leadership and career management program that prepares students for both their corporate residency and their future careers. The program also includes multiple integrative sessions—two-day breaks in the curriculum in which students, faculty, and employer partners work together to integrate and apply course room concepts.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Kenan-Flagler Business School, Chapel Hill, NC:  The judges selected UNC-Chapel Hill as a finalist for its development of an online MBA program. The new program was designed to match the quality and content of UNC-Chapel Hill's traditional MBA while using the latest in online interactive technology to deliver the content, administrative and student services, and faculty interfaces, including interactive tools for critiquing students and assessing their engagement in real time.  The school also is using materials developed for the online program to strengthen its traditional program, such as providing online access to course materials to students who may not have fully grasped the material in one classroom session.

University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School, Philadelphia, PA: Wharton was recognized for its Global Modular Courses (GMCs), an accelerated study abroad program held at locations around the world. The GMCs, which last three to six days, combine local immersion, academic theory, and the contemporary and emerging business issues of the geographic region in which the course is held. The course topics and locations were chosen to give students first-hand exposure to business challenges and opportunities in regions undergoing rapid change, such as energy and infrastructure in Brazil, global supply chain management in China, and marketing in emerging economies such as India and China.