April Clobes President and CEO is a new role for April Clobes, but it’s not a role she ever expected to be in. In college she imagined she’d end up working for a magazine (not on the cover of one) or editing books. She even dabbled in pre-law at Michigan State University before finding her niche in marketing. “Initially I was pre-law, but it wasn’t as exciting at the time as I had thought it might be. It wasn’t something I wanted to pursue. I switched into marketing through the business college and it was a really good fit; it was what I naturally like to do. I have always liked figuring out why people do what they do,” Clobes said. “I can walk though a grocery store and look at the end caps, listen to the music and see how the aisles are arranged and figure out from a marketing standpoint why the store is set up that way.” Clobes started as a marketing specialist for the credit union in 1996. Her drive and sharp set of marketing skills helped her work her way up in the organization. Early in her career, Clobes helped lead MSUFCU into the technology era by aiding in the creation of the e-commerce department. She started as manager of the department and eventually took on the role of Vice President of two departments associated with technology. “I was a marketing specialist for five years. In 2001 when Pat (McPharlin) had been CEO for six or seven months, he was looking to advance the credit union. We didn’t have an interactive website or anything like that. When he asked me to help transition from brochures to the website, I was ready to help,” Clobes said. “It grew from there, because when you sent out an email then, people opened it, and even if it had nothing to do with what we sent them, they would email us back, so another department was born; one to communicate and one to respond.” Clobes’ role evolved further from there as she transitioned from a vice president to executive vice president to COO, and eventually began training with former CEO Pat McPharlin to lead the organization. Clobes put in countless hours and dedicated herself to learn all the ins and outs of the organization. “I have worked a lot of hours and in a sense had two jobs. I didn’t know all the things that happened in this place. In 2014, Pat shared his intentions with the board and I began to prepare. I had to learn to do a lot of things. Pat was great and everyone was very supportive. Pat would walk me through the processes helping me to learn and understand until we had covered all the bases. It was great to have someone there to give advice and feedback,” said Clobes. When Clobes took over officially on March 18, 2015, the transition was a natural one. Staff members were excited to share in the next stages of growth and Clobes took the lessons learned from her predecessor to heart. Clobes believes wholeheartedly in the culture and the mission of MSUFCU, and her passion for the organization shows in everything she does. “For the most part, the staff could see the transition happening over time. I slowly started to do things Pat would do. He would lead a conversation and turn it over to me and eventually that just became me talking. Our employees have been very positive. We have a culture of promoting from within so they all really know who I am and are comfortable with me,” Clobes said. “I’ll meet with any employee, I meet with all the new hires, and they can ask me any questions they want. I want them to know about me. I want them to know I believe in what we do.” Clobes’ loves her job, but it requires her to put in more time than a traditional nine to five. She attends anywhere from three to four events per week and averages a six day work week. She admits it can be a lot at times, but she says the pros far out weigh the cons. “I think the best part is when our employees love working here, when they are excited to be part of our team. It really matters to me. Members come up to me all the time telling me about a good experience they had. It can be anything from getting a brand new car to just a great experience they had with our staff. That happens everyday. It makes me proud,” said Clobes. Clobes is also proud to be a Spartan and loves attending sporting events and enjoying a production at the Wharton Center. Although she may represent MSUFCU everywhere she goes, she makes time for things she truly enjoys doing as well. “I used to run but now I have to walk. I walk five miles on the weekend, even when it’s really cold. Then I’ll grab a Starbucks and read the Wall Street Journal. I love to travel. I love going to the bookstore and I love music; I have 8,000 songs on my iPod. I would love to learn to play the guitar, I’ve started a few times but never got that far,” Clobes said. Clobes also works to carve out time for the most important people in her life, her family. She works to set time aside to visit with her niece or take a trip with her oldest friends. Some may tease her about having to schedule their visits, but overall her friends and family share in her accomplishments. “I don’t know if they see me in a leadership role. My friends tease me that I have a lot less free time and that they have to be scheduled for me to hang out with them. But we always make it work, we just make adjustments,” Clobes said. And while her friends have made adjustments Clobes shares that her mother has adjusted well to the transition and has always been her biggest fan. “My mother is extraordinarily proud. I know she’ll want copies of this to put around her house to casually let people know her daughter is a CEO. I know she is proud. She was a single mom who didn’t go to college. She would always tell me that I needed to get a good job to take care of myself. I think I did that,” Clobes says humorously. “I think she is like any mom; she thinks I’m the most fabulous person in the world.” And while some moms feel their daughters are in the running, most would agree Clobes is an inspiration to many. And while she may be uncomfortable with the thought, she is comfortable in her new role and the exciting new adventures that lay ahead. “You can’t do any of it alone. I am excited about the opportunities the credit union may have. We have new branches opening, new products and services,” Clobes said. “Every day has been exciting and it is never the same. We are always growing and expanding. I am just proud to be a part of that.”
Ami Iceman-Hauter is the Brand Manager at M3 Group in downtown Lansing. Iceman is a graduate of Michigan State University with a bachelors degree in creative advertising.