Tech Talk: McDonald Lights Economic Fire

John McDonald, CEO of ClearObject and chair of the Indiana Chamber’s Tech Policy Committee, is proficient in many areas – including crafting analogies.

In the current BizVoice® magazine, he authors a thoughtful column titled “Indiana’s Economy: Great for Business, Not Yet for Entrepreneurs.” On the analogy side, consider this excerpt:

“If the spark that ignites an entrepreneurial company is initiative, then what are the other necessary components that fuel the fire of innovation? Like we learned in elementary school, fire requires fuel, oxygen and heat, and if any of these elements is removed, the fire stops.

“Similarly, entrepreneurship requires three elements: ideas, capital and skilled people, with the spark of initiative to light the flame. Take any of these away and the fire of an entrepreneurial company ‘flames out.’ “

Check out John’s full column.

The focus of the March-April issue is on Outstanding Talent. Nearly 20 stories outline programs, initiatives and people making a difference in the worlds of education and workforce development. Among the features:

  • The Excel Center, where adults gain the assistance and pair it with their own motivation to reach new heights in education and career opportunities
  • The Crossing Schools, where high school students in need of direction find it in the form of hands-on learning and work experiences
  • The International School of Indiana, where a challenging curriculum is only part of the mix for high-performing students

The Indiana Chamber is highlighted through the Foundation’s Business Champions Advisory Network, Indiana INTERNnet’s 12th annual IMPACT Award winners and an overview of the organization’s workforce development efforts.

View the full issue.

#BizVoiceExtra: Tuition Support Makes a Difference

Balancing work, family and life is challenging – throwing in a full-time, or even part-time, education on top can seem near impossible.

One thing that can ease the struggle of pursuing a degree as a working adult? Employer tuition support.

Employers that provide tuition support are making a long-term investment in their employees, and employees take that investment to heart. I learned that recently when speaking with several people for the March/April edition of BizVoice® about their experiences with tuition support and the benefits of attaining those advanced degrees through WGU Indiana.

(You can read that story in our new edition here.)

All of those interviewed couldn’t speak more highly of the impact of knowing their employer is actively supporting them. The return on investment for those companies yields people that are devoted to the organization, on top of the more tangible benefits of skilled and educated employees.

Dan Minnick

Dan Minnick

One of the WGU Indiana graduates featured in the story is Dan Minnick, a nursing professional development educator at IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie. I asked representatives from IU Health to provide more information on their tuition support program.

An abridged Q&A via email with Lauren Zink, vice president of Total Rewards and Shared Services at IU Health, follows:

BV: What is the benefit to IU Health as an employer when its team members have finished their degrees or have completed advanced degrees?

LZ: “Our goal at IU Health is to provide long-term career opportunities for our team members. We have a wide variety of jobs and a continuous need to fill them with dedicated, talented individuals. As our team members obtain the education they need to qualify and apply for new positions, it allows IU Health to retain them as valued team members and provides them with the opportunities to advance their careers. This mutually beneficial partnership leads to stronger employee engagement and retention, and that too is a very important priority at IU Health.”

BV: What would you say to employers who aren’t currently supporting team members with tuition support? How has this been beneficial for your organization?

LZ: “We understand that most organizations have many competing priorities and limited dollars to invest. However, the return on this investment is one that can be tracked and measured, and has a significant positive impact on the culture. When we invest in our most valuable asset, our people, we build a sustainable workforce that can grow with the organization. It also sends a very positive message to job seekers that their ongoing career development will be a priority at IU Health.”

BV: What do you tell your team members who aren’t sure if they want to go back to school?

LZ: “Education requires a time, energy and resource commitment. Only an individual can truly discern if they are ready to embark on this journey, and if they are, we are there to support them.”

Video: BizVoice Focuses on Education, Workforce in New Edition

Our Tom Schuman gives a two-minute look into the new March/April edition of BizVoice® magazine, detailing stories on education and workforce initiatives, as well as a peak into Indiana’s political history with a new entry in our yearlong Road Trip Treasures series. Additionally, a guest columnist tackles the needed ingredients for Indiana to ignite the entrepreneurial fire.


#BizVoiceExtra: BSU and the President’s Office

Sitting down and having discussions with business, government and community leaders is a part of this communications/BizVoice editor gig that is truly enjoyable. And conversations with university presidents or chancellors are always intriguing. Most, as expected, are excellent communicators. Some (no, I’m not going to name names) give you the impression the talk might be at a higher level than the actions to follow.

I enjoyed a recent sit-down with Geoff Mearns, the 18th president of my alma mater – Ball State. The focus was to be on university-community engagement. It shifted a bit to K-12 when legislation currently making its way through the Indiana General Assembly would place Ball State in the role of managing the troubled Muncie Community Schools. (Read more on both here).

Mearns is impressive – not just in our talk but in the views of many in Muncie and beyond. A trial lawyer for 15-plus years, he says the most important skill (in that job and his current one) is listening. He’s doing just that and taking the initial steps to move BSU in the right direction as it prepares to look beyond the 2018 celebration of its 100th anniversary.

Although Terry King served in an interim role for nearly a year and a half, Ball State is coming off the still mysterious departure of Paul Ferguson. Yes, these situations when a relationship at such a high level does not work out are tricky, but as a journalism graduate of the school, it was extremely disappointing to see the lack of transparency/communication when Ferguson was suddenly gone in January 2016. In fact, he had been in our Indiana Chamber offices less than two weeks earlier for a BizVoice roundtable.

On the positive side, Beverley Pitts was a longtime BSU administrator who served as interim president for a portion of 2004 before Jo Ann Gora began a decade-long tenure. Pitts went on to the same role at the University of Indianapolis from 2005-2012. Here is a conversation we shared upon her retirement. Her journalism background – and those strong communication abilities – may have played a part in my admiration of her leadership.

A note on another BSU president. John Worthen moved into that spot in 1984 (the year I graduated) and served until 2000 (bringing some much-needed stability). And then he stayed in Muncie. The basketball/volleyball home is now Worthen Arena and I’m told the former president is frequently on hand to cheer on the Cardinals.

#BizVoiceExtra: SMWC’s 3+1 Degree

Anna Madden

Anna Madden will graduate from Terre Haute’s Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) with both her bachelor’s and graduate degrees.

That’s not unique – most schools offer graduate degree programs. What is more unusual, however, is that Madden will get both of those degrees in just four years, with the SMWC 3+1 accelerated degree program.

(We’ve got more coverage on other accelerated degree programs around the state in our new edition of BizVoice. See the story for more here.)

It was because of a short walk to class with Dr. DJ Wasmer, professor of business and business department chair, that Madden decided to change majors to business and pursue the 3+1 degree.

The benefits, in her perspective: Getting her master’s degree earlier puts her ahead of the competition coming out of school, and the cost savings for an accelerated degree are well worth the rigorous program.

The compressed timeframe was also appealing to Madden.

“My parents were pushing me to do a master’s, but I wasn’t really interested in doing it. I hate that six years of time; I’m eager to get into everything. That’s part of my personality. In four years I’ll have two degrees and be able to study abroad. It’s a win-win,” she adds.

At SMWC, the Masters in Leadership Development (MLD) is the graduate degree piece, which was started in 2007. The 3+1 accelerated program currently is available for business majors, but the MLD program is open to anyone and can be completed in a year’s time. It contains two tracks: organizational leadership and not-for-profit leadership.

Wasmer notes the accelerated program is tough.

“They carry heavier loads and do all the same work as you would do in four years; it’s just compressed. It’s demanding, but it’s doable,” he says.

The challenge is enticing for students like Madden.

“This is awesome. I love the idea of pushing myself harder,” she exclaims.

“I think this program is difficult and challenging, but I have not seen this amount of attention and appreciation (from the staff) anywhere else. It’s so achievable with their help.”

Wasmer adds, “We want to graduate people that can think, emphasize critical thinking skills, emphasize creativity, problem-solving skills, which includes quantitative reasoning.”

Dr. DJ Wasmer

The MLD degree is available online, as well as in person in Terre Haute and Indianapolis; any undergraduate degree can be enhanced with an MLD, not just business majors, Wasmer notes.

“Leadership is essential to our educational enterprise here; one of our core values. We try to graduate leaders who will effect positive change, whether it’s in their community, their workplace, through their religion,” he says. “Leadership is not just for business people. We try to infuse it in everything we do and all the opportunities.”

To learn more about the program, visit

SMWC is also featured in our new edition of BizVoice, along with three other private Indiana institutions of higher education, highlighting unique campus programs or offerings. See that story here.

New Blog Series: #BizVoiceExtra

There’s a phrase most writers know (and loathe, even though we understand the necessity of it): “kill your darlings.”

While it doesn’t literally mean to kill anyone, the point is that you will write things that are so witty and smart and wonderful that you have probably lost objectivity on whether the words or phrases are useful to the reader.

The only solution is to kill them! Delete. Rewrite. Either way, make sure you’re not just writing for yourself – you’re writing for the reader.

I wish I had all the room in the world – or, within the pages of our bimonthly business magazine, BizVoice – to keep all my lovely darlings and every interview and nugget of information that I find fascinating when working on a story.

Side note: It probably causes my editor, Tom, a little heartburn when I say, “Can I have a little more room, pleassssssse?” (It happens nearly every edition. Sorry, Tom!)

But we have so many great stories to tell about the people and companies making Indiana a special place to work and live that I want to share as much of that with our readers as possible.

In an effort to tell more of those stories that didn’t get into the magazine, I’m starting a new series here on our blog (and this social media manager is giving it a hashtag, of course): #BizVoiceExtra. While it’s not a total workaround of “killing my darlings,” this means I can expand on some topics that readers also might find interesting.

Look here for stories and photos you won’t find in BizVoice from me and hopefully my fellow writers (they don’t know I’m going to rope them into this yet, ha!).

Our March-April edition of BizVoice drops this week! Keep an eye out for some intriguing stories focusing on education and workforce, Indiana Vision 2025 progress and a trip through Indiana’s political history with another entry in our yearlong Road Trip Treasures series.

I’ll have a few of the #BizVoiceExtra stories from our new edition in a few days. Check back soon!

Tech Talk: Staking Their Claim to Be Among the ‘Best’

Technology organizations have traditionally fared well in the annual Best Places to Work (BPTW) in Indiana program, including taking top honors several times in its 12-year history.

In recent years, the number of technology companies making the list has significantly increased. Two reasons, both fairly obvious: Tech is continually becoming a bigger part of our state’s economy and more businesses in this sector are entering the program to gain the valuable feedback that all participants receive.

The 2018 BPTW list was unveiled earlier this week. Twenty-six of the 125 honorees self-identified as being in the tech industry; a few others chose consulting or related fields, but do most of their work in the tech/innovation areas.

Two of the BPTW Hall of Fame organizations (making the list at least eight years of the now 13 years of the program) are Salesforce (ExactTarget in the early days) and Software Engineering Professionals.

But, as noted earlier, the last few years have seen the addition of so many tech start-ups or national companies establishing a strong Indiana presence. The Indiana Chamber’s BizVoice® magazine featured four BPTW newcomers in 2017. Among the first-time winners in 2018: Brite Systems, Carbonite, ClearObject, Clinical Architecture, ESCO Communications, Greenlight Guru, Kronos, OrthoPediatrics, Perficient, Sigstr and Springbuk.

Here’s the 2018 list, in alphabetical order, for the four employer size categories. The celebration, and release of the final rankings, takes place on May 3 at the Indiana Convention Center. BizVoice will have the details about the outstanding workplace cultures at all the winners in its May-June issue.

Congratulations to all the winners. Learn more about the program and prepare to enter for 2019.

BizVoice: Takeaways on Building a Business

The November-December edition of BizVoice® wrapped up a yearlong series with Fishers-based Recovery Force. The promising start-up develops wearable medical technology devices intended to increase circulation among other benefits.

BizVoice has followed the company’s progress over the last year, from early inception and beginning work to grow the organization to now, as the company is seeking advanced funding rounds and products are heading to market in 2018.

The first story highlights the Recovery Force beginnings, including the unique approach to solving an everyday medical challenge. Team building is featured in the series’ second story, and the third takes a look at the federal regulatory and grant environment.

Company advisors, from business experts to a former Indianapolis Colts player, discuss their roles with Recovery Force in the fourth story. And the fifth story puts fundraising front and center.

Recently, Recovery Force co-founder, president and CEO Matt Wyatt joined BizVoice editor Tom Schuman on Inside INdiana Business to discuss what’s next for the company in 2018. Watch the video below:

Find all of the Recovery Force stories and more from the November-December edition of BizVoice at

We’ve Got New BizVoice For You!

The September/October edition of BizVoice magazine is now live!

We’ve highlighted venture capital, banking/finance/investments and Indiana innovation. Our own Tom Schuman also followed Indiana Congressman Larry Bucshon (R-8th District) for a day in Washington D.C. Read his story and the rest of the new content in the online edition.

You can also subscribe to receive a hard copy every other month.

Lessons Learned From an ‘Almost’ Scam; Read More in September/October BizVoice

Have you ever been financially scammed?

I was, nearly. In my senior year of college, I got a phone call one night from a chipper-sounding gal that let me know I had won something (I don’t even remember now what the thing was!) and all I had to do was give my credit card information (I didn’t have a credit card, but did have a debit card. So, that’s much worse).

She made it sound like a sweet deal and was very persuasive. I obliged and handed out my numbers.

There was something in the pit of my stomach that didn’t feel right in the moment. As soon as I’d hung up the phone, I knew I’d made a huge mistake. I was at the local branch of my bank the first thing the next morning. As I stumbled through my explanation and through the tears of worry – and most of all embarrassment: how could I have fallen for it? – they assured me they had canceled my card and nothing illicit had happened.

I was lucky.

Lucky I listened to my gut and stopped it before anything could happen.
And lucky I was a college kid who didn’t have much money in her account anyway, had things turned out differently.

Not a grandmother who is scammed into giving away her life savings. Or a single parent in a desperate situation who is willing to put their hope into something – anything – that seems like a way out of a financial mess, only to have things get a lot worse.

And while banks and financial institutions have become more proactive about educating customers, improving their fraud policies and offering protection services and other means of fortification, there are still “bad actors” out there causing financial havoc.
As those “bad actors” have become more sophisticated over time, the ease of the internet has made all of us relax on our privacy and security. Who’s got a banking app on their phone? Is your password secure enough a thief couldn’t guess it? Are the answers to the security questions easy enough to figure out if someone were to do some research into your social media presence?

What are banking institutions doing to fight fraud? And how can customers – businesses and individuals – help shield their interests from falling into the hands of scammers?

We’re diving into the topic of fighting financial fraud in the September-October edition of BizVoice®. I’ll be speaking with Andy Shank, professional fraud investigator for Elements Financial, who spent 13 years as an investigator with the Indiana State Police and worked with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in that time.

We’ll look at what financial institutions are doing to guard their customers’ interests and ward against fraud, and Hoosier experts will offer tips on how you can protect your company and your personal financial interests.

See you in September!