April Clobes always knew she would go to college. Her mom told her so. Growing up in Bay City, Mich., Clobes took her mother's affirmation to heart. Soon, she owned it.
Today, Clobes is the President and CEO of the MSU Federal Credit Union (MSUFCU). It's a post she never dreamed she would have. After all, she says, she originally set out to be an attorney. Regardless of where she's landed, she knows her mother would be proud.
"My mom felt like she never had the opportunity to go to college," Clobes said. "She told me the whole time I was growing up that I would go and be successful."
Clobes became the first generation in her family to receive an education beyond high school. Her mom had worked as a housekeeper. Her stepfather on the factory floor. Armed with a strong work ethic, Clobes explored campuses across the Midwest. Originally, she wanted to go to college in Chicago. Ultimately, she chose to be a Spartan.
"MSU just felt like home," Clobes said. "I can walk onto campus today and it feels just like it did to me as a freshman. I fit. I belong here. It's beautiful."
Drive to excellence
As an undergraduate, Clobes balanced her studies with work and internships, starting at a downtown law firm, then later at the MSU Union. It was there, through her work with the Union Activities Board, now the University Activities Board, that she recognized her love of marketing and community.
"I learned how to organize events, how to interact with donors and sponsors, and how to ask people to volunteer," Clobes said. "I learned that if you're passionate about what you're doing, you'll make others passionate about it too. It translates to what I do today."
Graduating with her B.A. in marketing, Clobes went on to work in sales, but kept her sights on a career in advertising and promotions. In 1996, she found the gateway she was looking for: a position as a marketing specialist for the MSUFCU.
"It was exactly what I wanted to do with marketing: design, writing and marketing. It was a great match," she said.
Clobes says the most defining moments of her career started with simply raising her hand and volunteering to do something. As she learned by doing, Clobes progressed from heading up e-commerce and e-services, to roles as a vice president, executive vice president, and chief operating officer. Along the way, she earned her master's degree in advertising and public relations from MSU, as well as an MBA from Western Michigan University. In the spring of 2015, she succeeded the retiring Patrick McPharlin as the President and CEO of the MSUFCU.
In 19 years, Clobes has seen the MSUFCU grow from about 100 employees, $400 million in assets and 40,000 members to 650 employees, $3 billion in assets and 200,000 members. That growth hasn't stopped, with the opening of new branch offices, a second building at headquarters, and the anticipated addition of 50 to 70 employees each year over the next decade.
"My work here feels just as exciting today as it did when I came here," Clobes said. "It's exciting because I believe in what we do. We make a difference for our members. We impact our community, and we make jobs."
Clobes serves on various boards, councils and committees for her alma mater, including the MSU College of Communication Arts and Sciences Alumni Board, MSU College of Music Leadership Council, Broad Art Museum International Advisory Board, and the Wharton Center Advisory Council. Her community service includes serving on boards and committees for the Lansing Area Economic Partnership, Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, Lansing Symphony and Physician's Health Plan.
"I believe that personal giving and commitment helps our community grow, and it helps retain and attract talent here," Clobes said. "And I just love being involved."