2023 Best 40-Under-40 MBA Professors: Tami Kim, Darden School of Business, University of Virginia

Congrats to Tami Kim of the Darden School of Business, University of Virginia for being named a 2023 Best 40-Under-40 MBA Professor.

Tami Kim

Darden School of Business, University of Virginia

“Tami Kim is a much-admired teacher and researcher at Darden. She teaches the First Year Marketing course and a Digital Marketing elective at Darden, and her course evaluations are routinely in the Top 10% of ratings for course and instructor feedback among all courses taught at Darden. Students routinely praise the warm but challenging environment she creates in the case method classroom, and she received the Darden Faculty Diversity Award in 2022, an entirely student-driven honor.” – The Darden School

Tami Kim, 35, is an assistant professor of marketing at the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia. 

Her research centers around consumer behavior in digital environments, with a particular focus on the emergence of social norms in these contexts. She also explores diversity and inclusion issues in the consumer marketplace. 

Her work has been published in leading academic journals in the fields of marketing, management, and psychology, and she has also written for outlets such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Harvard Business Review. She has given talks at organizations including Google, Meta, and Salesforce. 

She has received numerous awards including the Wyss Award for Excellence in Doctoral Research, Harvard Business School Dean’s Award, and best paper awards at multiple conferences.


At current institution since what year? 2017

Education: DBA, Harvard Business School; AB, Harvard College

List of MBA courses you currently teach: Core Marketing, Digital Marketing


I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when… I grew up watching my father (who was also a marketing professor) absolutely in love with his job. He loved the freedom to be able to learn and think about any topics he wished to think about and he derived a lot of meaning from mentoring his students and working with organizations. He kept recommending that I give his career a try and after a few years of rebelling, I relented and I’m so glad I did. Unfortunately, he passed away before I got into a PhD program but I’d like to think he’s watching over me every step of my career.  

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? Broadly, I study how social norms and expectations of behavior emerge on digital platforms. For instance, in one paper with Ting Zhang and Mike Norton, we found that digital payment platforms such as Venmo can harm interpersonal relationships. Although digital payment platforms have certainly made our lives more convenient by allowing us to exchange exact amounts owed in a matter of seconds, we find that such precise payments can make the relationship feel too much like a business transaction, and hurt the overall relationship quality. After all, you wouldn’t want your friends to treat you as if you are their accountant! More recently, I have been spending a lot of time thinking about—and conducting research on—how (consumers believe) free speech should be regulated on social media and what their beliefs mean for platform governance. 

If I weren’t a business school professor… I would be running my own hospitality group. 

What do you think makes you stand out as a professor? I strive to create a fun environment while maintaining high standards (I hope my students agree).

One word that describes my first time teaching: Humbling 

Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor: I did not realize how much I would also be learning by teaching. I have learned new ways of thinking from my students, gotten new ideas for research from teaching cases, and developed a deeper understanding of my own strengths and weaknesses. So, while my students may think I’m in the classroom to teach them, I’m equally there to learn. 

Professor I most admire and why: Tom Steenburgh for teaching me how to teach, and my academic parents Mike Norton, Leslie John, and Ryan Buell for teaching me how to think critically, write, and be curious about the world. 


What do you enjoy most about teaching business students? Starting out at Darden, many students are often intimidated by the case method and may feel apprehensive about speaking up in the classroom. Since I teach both first and second-year MBAs, I have had the privilege of witnessing their growth and development over time. It’s incredibly meaningful to see them become more confident and resilient versions of themselves—and knowing that I have played a part in their growth is truly rewarding.     

What is most challenging? I am not a morning person so 8 a.m. classes are as painful for me as they are for my students. 

In a word, describe your favorite type of student: humble

In a word, describe your least favorite type of student: arrogant

When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as… tough but fair


What are your hobbies? Trying out new coffee shops and bars. People watching. Experimenting with new recipes. Hanging out with our dog, Ragnar. 

How will you spend your summer? Mostly research and some traveling. Currently, my husband and I are planning on Korea, New Zealand, Australia, and Singapore.

Favorite place(s) to vacation: My husband and I went to Aix last fall and fell in love with the city. 

Favorite book(s): “Bird by Bird” by Anne Lamott. I live by this book. 

What is currently your favorite movie and/or show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much?  My all-time favorite movie is Best in Show, which holds a special place in my heart since our beloved pup Ragnar is a Norwich Terrier (fans of the movie will understand why). I also recently watched Jury Duty and found it to be absolutely hilarious.

What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why? “Today’s Top Hits” on Spotify


If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this…  financial aid to enable more future leaders from diverse backgrounds to pursue business education without financial constraints.   

In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at…  giving sabbaticals so workers can recharge and work on personal development.  

I’m grateful for… my husband, mom, and brother. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. 



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