Touting work-life balance isn’t just lip service at this community bank

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Touting work-life balance isn’t just lip service at Old National Bank in Evansville, Ind.

Carrie Ellspermann learned that firsthand in 2016. At that time, she was the chief executive of the bank’s wealth management division and “absolutely loved the job and my team,” she said. But as the business grew, the role required more travel, something that was difficult to balance with the needs in her personal life.

One of her sons, who is now 13, developed Type 1 diabetes when he was 8 years old. The disease is manageable but “you really have to stay on top of it,” Ellspermann said.

Though Ellspermann has a supportive husband — Ken Ellspermann, who is president of Old National Investments — she decided she wanted to be home more for her family. Because of that, she approached both Kendra Vanzo, who is now Old National’s chief people officer, and Bob Jones, the chairman and CEO, about taking over for the talent development director who was retiring.

“Those conflicting priorities drove me to think maybe there is another opportunity, a different place I could contribute,” she said. “While running wealth was intellectually challenging and exciting, I loved the people management the best.”


Vanzo and Jones were supportive of Ellspermann exploring the new opportunity. So in May 2016 she was named chief talent development officer.

“I’m not sure I could adequately describe how valuable, how meaningful and how personal that was for me,” Ellspermann said of the bank’s willingness to accommodate her needs. “I am sitting here tearing up just thinking about it. It was a life-changing switch to me. What was really neat about it, Kendra and Bob found a way for me to still contribute at a really senior leadership level in a role that that helps to drive important initiatives just as I had before.”

Vanzo said Old National has no set rules for helping employees balance work and personal obligations. The $17.5 billion-asset company tries to be as accommodating as possible and doesn’t take a one-size-fits-all approach to it.

“Sometimes you just have to figure out how to make it all fit,” Vanzo said. “We talk a lot about that importance and it means different things to different people. Every situation, in terms of their role and what is required in their home life, is very different.”

See the other 2018 Top Teams:

Allowing flexibility in big ways — such as accommodating employees like Ellspermann — can help keep women engaged and in key decision-making roles. But smaller benefits can also make a difference for all employees with families.

For instance, throughout its footprint, a series of clinics have been contracted to serve Old National’s employees and their dependents who are on its health insurance plan. That can make it easier and cheaper for employees seeking medical care for themselves and their families. Vanzo was instrumental in making that happen.

Overall Old National has several women in key executive roles, including Candice Rickard, chief risk officer; Kathy Schoettlin, chief cultural officer; Ann Ryan, chief client experience officer; Sara Miller, southern region CEO; and Joan Kissel, chief audit and ethics officer.

To help ensure diversity in its workforce, Old National is in the process of establishing three talent teams. Each team will serve a group of business units and focus on examining the demographics of the bank’s workforce, developing strategies for filling gaps in skills, identifying leaders and thinking more broadly about a plan for talent management.

All of this is possible because having a diverse and inclusive workforce has been a priority for Jones since he joined the bank in 2004, Vanzo said. That has made it easier for women to succeed at the bank.

“We have really seen women lean in and step up and be very successful here — not only because they are talented individuals but also because they are supported by the men who work here," she said. "I think that’s important because in order for women to be successful, men have to buy in and they really do here.”

Headquarters: Evansville, Ind.

Assets at June 30: $17.4 billion
Return on equity: 9.07%
Return on assets: 1.18%

Female representation among corporate officers: 27%
Female representation on operating committee: 36%

The team: Joan Kissel, Sara Miller, Candice Rickard, Ann Ryan, Kathy Schoettlin, Kendra Vanzo

Old National also appeared on our 2017 list of Best Banks to Work For.

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