Mark McFatridge: Experiential Learning Using Value Enhancement

Mark McFatridge: Experiential Learning Using Value Enhancement

Mark McFatridge

Director of Old National Bank Center for Private Held Business at Butler University Lacy School of Business


In this episode, Ed speaks with Director of the Old National Bank Center for Closely Held Business, Mark McFatridge. Part of Butler University’s Lacy School of Business and the Old National Center for Privately Held Business, the center aims to work closely with privately-owned businesses in the community. Their hope is to connect with small businesses (5 million to 100 million revenue) in order to help them assess their own definition of success and achieve the growth they need to get there.  The team has built up a sizable resource bank and strategizes one on one with companies to create actionable items and connect them with ideal partners and resources. 

Show Notes

[01:08] Introduction and welcome to Mark McFatridge

[03:06] Mark Introduces the Old National Bank Center for Closely Held Business

[03:57] Why Universities are aligning with the business sector

[05:06] How Butler is leading the way

[05:36] Mark talks about the Butler Business Consulting Group

[06:18] How Butler is facilitating real business experiences with students

[07:43] Mark talks about the mutual benefits of the Butler business programs and local companies

[10:53] Mark talks about the Butler Business Consulting Group

[11:16] Mark talks about Old National Bank

[12:31] Mark walks listeners through the consumer journey

[15:19] Capacity of the program

[16:46] Business Center Fees

[19:15] How to define success with center members

[21:00] Why invest in these programs

[23:12] Small Business Development Center

[26:37] Mark gives his last piece of advice

Contact Mark at:


Learn More About This Episode

About Mark
Mark was born and raised in Logansport, Indiana and received his undergraduate degree from Butler in Accounting. Right out of school, Mark went into public accounting and says he ‘hated it from day one’ which reset his trajectory into the world of banking which has since made up most of his career. He earned his MBA from Butler, which helped him move up in the banking world and he has served as CEO for multiple institutions and has spearheaded several turnarounds. When Mark retired from banking, he bought a couple small companies and moved into the small business ownership world. Since then he has had the opportunity to serve his Alma Mater with the Old National Bank Center for Closely Held Business.

Universities Aligning to the Business Community

The whole University system is in the midst of a major shift from book work to experiential learning. Flipping that traditional lecture system on its head means universities are searching for opportunities to offer real world experiences. One of the biggest reasons for the trend of engaging local business communities is for universities to truly understand what they need. Mark says they are directing their curriculum to match what companies are really looking for. Today, when students come into their first year of business school at Butler, they create their own business plan that they then launch as a sophomore. That real, hands on business experience creates an unparalleled opportunity for students to learn from the real world.

Butler has a history of innovating when it comes to connecting with businesses. They’ve long required two real internships as part of their program—and not just the ‘run and get coffee’ variety. In 2007, the business school leveled up with the Butler Business Consulting Group, which is a team of professionals on staff along with students who are helping companies solve problems. Companies can find help with business strategy, growth, operational discipline, financial optimization and human capital. Additionally, the school boasts student run investment funds, a student run marketing firm and a student run captive insurance company. The school shows no signs of stopping either and has recently made a further commitment by opening a brand new, 50-million-dollar building meant to be a hub for facilitating this connection with the business community.

How Students at Butler connect with the Business Community

Connecting with the business community means that small businesses can consult with the Butler Small Business Consulting Group for world class consulting and students get valuable real-world insights. Old National Bank Center for Closely Held Business is designed to assist established companies steer toward success. While success is defined differently for individual businesses, each member is presented with a member analytical package that consists of four elements:

1.) Business Valuation – To get an idea of what your company is worth.
2.) Business Assessment – To help identify where strengths and opportunities are.
3.) Employee Experience Survey – A culture survey to dig into what makes the company tick
4.) Voice of the Customer Survey – A deep dive to see what the engagement is like, identify differentiation, opportunities etc.

This initial package helps companies really understand where they currently stand. That information is then used to help that clients “figure out what they want to be when they grow up.” Mark says they work mostly with closely held, small businesses who are bringing in somewhere between 5 and 50 million dollars a year in revenue. All the services and groups at the School of Business work closely together to provide their clients with valuable assets that are uniquely tailored to their needs. And it is needed— in the state of Indiana alone, there are over 500,000 closely held businesses that employ more than 2.5 million people. When the Butler school approached Old National Bank about a partnership, the fit made sense, as they had a long history of serving the closely held, small business world. Old National Bank initial commitment of 5 million dollars is what got the center off the ground.

The Consumer Journey
Once results are back from the Butler Business Consulting group, a group of advisors is handpicked to sit down and look at the results of the member analytical package and compare them to where the company wants to be when they grow up. Prioritizing these issues for individual needs and each company’s unique definition of success means that every relationship is different. Once the advisors have a good idea about what the business is looking for, they are able to reach out to their circle of partners and begin making connections to set the business up for success.

The way in which the center is organized means that it’s growth potential is unlimited, and Mark says while they think between 100 and 200 businesses is a good number to start with, they have no real cap. There is a $10,000 membership fee to get started with the group, which includes access to two yearly conferences, the groups range of service and accredited partners. The second year, the fee reduces to $5,000 and includes updates to the analytical package and attendances to the conferences. For the companies that the center serves, this fee structure is incredibly affordable and offers a lot of value opportunities. While everything is currently confidential, Mark says that over time they are hoping to collect data to help professors put together case studies for their curriculum.

Defining success
Every company has a different version of success. Mark says they have some people who want to ensure that their company is ready to pass on to the next generation, while others want to focus on long term growth or operational efficiencies. The goal for what they get out of the center can vary from year to year and businesses can continually update goals year on year.
The investment that Butler is making in this program and others is part of the process of broadening the definition of a student. Mark points out that the student body is no longer just traditional students—straight out of high school or undergrad freshman—but is beginning to include people looking to run their businesses better. Meeting students where they are is crucial for the continued success of the college ecosystem.

Small Business Development Center
The Butler School of Business and the center have a positive, strong relationship with the Central Indiana Small Business Development Center. The services they offer have many parallels with the Butler school’s programs. The difference, Mark says, is that the Development Center focuses more on small businesses and there is no annual fee to join. The two share a working relationship back and forth and Mark says that many students ‘graduate’ from SBDC into their program.

Marks last piece of advice for business owners is this: listen to understand, not to respond. Putting that in a business perspective—engaging your employees at every level and understanding them where they are is a transformative move for owners. Not only will it change your relationship with them, it can open your eyes to opportunities you never knew existed.