Executive of the Year, Midsize Organization: Tammi Nance-Spayde

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

Tammi Nance-Spayde had found a good niche at Riverside Methodist Hospital. OhioHealth's tuition assistance program had helped her complete her sociology degree from Ohio State University, and she was on the ground floor of the new Patient Relations Program to promote patients' rights, ultimately becoming its director.

But she thought there might be a job that was even better suited for her interpersonal and administrative skills. A session with a career counselor introduced Nance-Spayde to a career path that seemed to be a perfect fit: human resources.

"Variety was a key factor for me," says Nance-Spayde, vice president of corporate human resources for OCLC. "I love working with people. But I am also very tactical and analytical, so benefit design and compensation management appealed to me. I like to develop those models and do analysis. In this role, I am allowed so many different opportunities."

Nance-Spayde served as vice president of human resources and organizational development director at Riverside before being recruited to lead human resources for Metatec International, which later became Inoveris, a high-tech manufacturing organization.

After the 9/11 terrorist attacks curtailed the tech sector and Inoveris hit some bumps in the road, Nance-Spayde moved to Dominion Homes, where she worked as senior vice president of administrative services, human resources and operational development. In 2005, as the economy began to impact the housing market, she made the leap to OCLC, which allowed her to further enhance her people skills in the international climate she had first experienced at Inoveris.

"Tammi has to interact with human resource professionals in the 10 different countries where we have offices and make sure whatever the workplace location, those employees are just as motivated and excited as anyone here in the Dublin headquarters," says nominator Jay Jordan, OCLC's president and CEO. "Tammi is a consummate human resources professional-the best I've worked with in a rather long career.

"One measure of human resources in any enterprise is how it is viewed by the employees. Tammi has been excellent in ensuring this is a great place to work, and an inclusive place to work."

OCLC has won numerous honors, including being named among the Best Employers in Ohio four years in a row by Best Companies Group and the Ohio Society for Human Resource Management State Council, as well as one of the Best Places to Work in IT by Computerworld for seven consecutive years.

Nance-Spayde says three primary skills are required to excel in human resources: courage to lead and make decisions; expressing humility and being authentic; the ability to switch between interpersonal relations and analytical problem solving

Just as important, she says human resources must cultivate the belief that customer service exists at all levels of an organization. "We are all serving someone in the process of doing our job, and that makes every person a customer," she says.

Nicole Kraft is a freelance writer.

Reprinted from the August 2012 issue of Columbus C.E.O. Copyright © Columbus C.E.O.