Recognizing Opportunity

ClobesApril Clobes, MBA’09, the new CEO of MSU Federal Credit Union, has a talent for capitalizing on opportunity—a talent that has not only aided her in her own career success but also helped her to recognize opportunities for others, whether they be credit union members or employees.

Pioneering the e-commerce area at the credit union in the early 2000s, Clobes has always been a natural leader—someone who is not afraid to tackle new projects that have a high degree of the unknown in them. “The CEO at that time didn’t sit with me and tell me how to create the department or what the day-to-day tasks should be. I was given the direction to ‘create an e-commerce department and online presence for the credit union,’” says Clobes. “I was able to determine what that would look like. I made mistakes along the way, but I think that helped me to learn how to make better decisions going forward.”

Clobes’ abilities to see opportunities, operationalize plans for going after those opportunities and engage others in the process have served her well. In recent years, she pursued an idea where the credit union created an in-house program for its employees with the goal to save members $1 million dollars in one quarter by refinancing their loans from other institutions. “The program was a new way to cross-sell loans to our members. We named the program, Member Experience because we wanted to give our members a great experience by offering to refinance their loans which would result in lower monthly payments. They could then use the money saved for other expenses.”

The program has been in place for several years now, and last year, the institution logged more than $9 million dollars in savings for their members. “This translates into more loans for the credit union, and it means $9 million dollars that members utilize elsewhere,” says Clobes. “It could mean $9 million dollars more in our economy, buying goods and services, or in savings. It is gratifying to have members tell you things like, ‘Now I can afford braces for my child.’”

And Clobes finds it just as rewarding to support the team members at the credit union and seek out opportunities for their professional growth. “We hire not only for skills for a particular position, but we also look for individuals who will be focused on employee success and who will make member-focused decisions,” says Clobes. “It is important to make sure that each person is in the right role and has the ability to both play to his or her strengths but also to learn additional skills that will assist them in professional development. We provide our management team many opportunities for success through ongoing leadership training, informal meetings with leaders of other organizations, consistent and timely mentoring and coaching, and regular meetings where everyone can hear the same information and ask questions.”

Clobes notes that her team is second to none. “We have highly motivated, intelligent, hard-working people, who care.”

"It is important to make sure that each person is in the right role and has the ability to both play to his or her strengths but also to learn additional skills that will assist them in professional development."
- April Clobes

And under Clobes’ leadership, her team will be working on some exciting developments in the coming years. “We reached $3 billion dollars in assets in December of 2015,” says Clobes. “We are building a second office complex to house the credit union’s growing workforce, which will reach 700 employees by the end of 2016. Based on our ten-year growth projections, we will reach $9 billion dollars in assets and have more than 900 employees. I am excited about scaling our organization and continuing to serve our members with the same local family service they know and expect.”

MSU Federal Credit Union’s commitment to providing that same local family service is perhaps the greatest opportunity of all. “When you are local, your resources are local. We create jobs, donate to organizations that improve our community, and volunteer to help others be successful in the community. Our members have a shared vision with us.”