MSU Federal Credit Union - From Desk Drawer to Billions
Episode 13310th November 2023 • Total Michigan • Cliff Duvernois
00:00:00 00:32:42

Share Episode

Shownotes

MSU Federal Credit Union (MSUFCU) is quickly growing. April Clobes, President and CEO of MSU Federal Credit Union, sat down with me to talk about how she climbed the corporate ladder to become the CEO but also how this credit union, which started in a desk drawer over 50 years ago now has hundreds of thousands of members and manages $7.5 Billion in assets.

Links:

MSU Federal Credit Union Website: https://www.msufcu.org/

To get these episodes sent directly to your inbox, go to https://totalmichigan.com/join

Watch the YouTube Version Here: https://youtu.be/yT0a2p375cA

Transcripts

Speaker:

April Clobes, MSUFCU: I

didn't set out to be the CEO.

2

:

in 2010, our then CEO, who was five

years from his retirement, had an

3

:

arrangement with the board that

no one knew, to prepare internal

4

:

candidates for his succession.

5

:

I didn't really understand I was on this

journey to be considered to be the CEO.

6

:

then he had a real conversation

with me of Oh, now we're like less

7

:

than two years away before I'm

going to make an announcement.

8

:

So it's now you.

9

:

Cliff Duvernois: Hello, everyone, and

welcome to Total Michigan, where we

10

:

interview ordinary Michiganders doing

some pretty extraordinary things.

11

:

I'm your host, Cliff Duvernois.

12

:

Today I'm in Lansing, Michigan.

13

:

And I get the unique privilege and

honor to talk to somebody who's

14

:

really accomplished quite a bit

15

:

It's really an incredible story.

16

:

Ladies and gentlemen, let me

present to you the president and

17

:

CEO of MSU Federal Credit Union,

and that would be April Clobes.

18

:

April, how are you?

19

:

April Clobes, MSUFCU: I'm doing great.

20

:

Thanks for having me.

21

:

Cliff Duvernois: Awesome.

22

:

Why don't you tell us a little bit about

where you're from and where you grew up.

23

:

April Clobes, MSUFCU: Oh absolutely.

24

:

So I am from Bay City, Michigan.

25

:

And I did grow up most

of my life in Michigan.

26

:

I did spend tell us a little you

know, maybe five to six years living

27

:

in other states with my family

before we returned to Michigan.

28

:

But graduated high school

from Bangor John Glenn.

29

:

Cliff Duvernois: go to college?

30

:

I went

31

:

April Clobes, MSUFCU: I went

to Michigan State University.

32

:

Cliff Duvernois: What did you study?

33

:

April Clobes, MSUFCU: I studied

marketing, in the College of Business.

34

:

It was probably like my third or fourth

major choice, but that's where I finished.

35

:

Cliff Duvernois: Why did you

decided to get into marketing?

36

:

April Clobes, MSUFCU: Well, I had come

to school to be pre law, in all honesty.

37

:

And I had, spent a lot of time

preparing for a career as an attorney.

38

:

And when I started doing,

some of the school work.

39

:

I just started working through like,

I'm not sure this is what I want to do.

40

:

Mostly I started, I had a class assignment

where you had to interview attorneys.

41

:

And I had to interview different

types of practicing attorneys.

42

:

So I interviewed a prosecutor,

I interviewed a defense

43

:

attorney, corporate lawyer.

44

:

And I was like, I don't know

that this sounds like fast paced

45

:

and interesting enough, right?

46

:

And and so then I

started exploring majors.

47

:

And, I was already taking some business

courses and really took a marketing class.

48

:

And it just, it felt right.

49

:

And so I finished out in marketing

and it's actually where I spent most

50

:

of my career before this job, Yeah.

51

:

Cliff Duvernois: Speaking of which,

after you graduated from college,

52

:

where did you land your first job?

53

:

April Clobes, MSUFCU: job?

54

:

My first job was with Monroe Auto,

which is an automotive supplier

55

:

located right here in Michigan.

56

:

Except I was, assigned

the Chicagoland area as my

57

:

territory, doing corporate sales.

58

:

I showed the corporate clients,

which were Kmart and TrackAuto.

59

:

Cliff Duvernois: I Oh.

60

:

Very nice.

61

:

April Clobes, MSUFCU:

Yeah, it did not last long.

62

:

Cliff Duvernois: have to be,

That wasn't your cup of tea.

63

:

April Clobes, MSUFCU: Yeah, I think

you have to be, have the perspective

64

:

of 1994, which is a long time ago now.

65

:

And the work environment and, being,

at the time, probably one of very few

66

:

females in the role, in just the industry

expectations and, it, it was not a

67

:

work environment where I could thrive.

68

:

Cliff Duvernois: so how did you start

to put your foot into banking finance

69

:

April Clobes, MSUFCU: Yeah.

70

:

well, this was everyone, oh,

this is not my, like, sat

71

:

around and had a good dream job.

72

:

It was, for me, I had

a marketing background.

73

:

And so after I left Monroe Auto, I

actually went to a company in the metro

74

:

Detroit area called Lighting Supply.

75

:

And they were a commercial

lighting distributor.

76

:

And I did their marketing.

77

:

What that meant was I did catalogs

of light bulbs and trade shows

78

:

for the facilities team at

your corporate office, right?

79

:

And the light bulbs that they might

need to buy, and really handled

80

:

the marketing for this company.

81

:

company.

82

:

And so I really enjoy marketing.

83

:

I was in the metro Detroit area.

84

:

And wanted to come back

to the Lansing region.

85

:

My now husband was here.

86

:

He was working at Michigan State.

87

:

So I just started looking for jobs to

be honest with you in the old fashioned

88

:

way of a newspaper back in the day.

89

:

And, I was a member of the credit

union from my time at Michigan State.

90

:

There was a marketing job open and I had

been, while working at Michigan State

91

:

University as a student, I had been a

marketing intern in the union building.

92

:

And the credit union had an office

location, for a branch in the union.

93

:

And I often had to call the vice

president of marketing at the

94

:

credit union for things, right?

95

:

Will you put an ad in this

student event program?

96

:

Will you sponsor this?

97

:

Can you give us trinkets?

98

:

And when the, when I saw the

ad, I was, had a memory of Oh,

99

:

I remember this experience.

100

:

And the woman that I worked

with at the credit union.

101

:

So I applied.

102

:

Turns out she remembered me

from my time at MSU as well.

103

:

And then I was hired in as

marketing specialist in:

104

:

Cliff Duvernois: 1996.

105

:

When you graduated college and

you entered the workforce, Okay,

106

:

you newly minted college graduate.

107

:

Did anybody give you any advice?

108

:

As far as, starting your

career, anything else?

109

:

April Clobes, MSUFCU: No.

110

:

We were talking a little bit as

we were getting ready, right?

111

:

I'm a first generation

college student, in my family.

112

:

And so I have working class parents.

113

:

And my mom actually grew

up on a farm in Michigan.

114

:

And so navigating college and then

after college, what I knew was I had

115

:

worked and put myself through college.

116

:

And I needed a job after college.

117

:

And when In the time that I graduated

and I had a marketing degree,

118

:

your job options were really to

be a salesperson for some company.

119

:

And so I went through rounds and rounds of

interviews, and landed with Monroe Auto.

120

:

And that's why I said it just

wasn't the place for me, right?

121

:

I didn't go to do sales.

122

:

I did...

123

:

Wanted to do marketing.

124

:

I wanted to do like the

traditional marketing, right?

125

:

I wanted to promote products and services

to customers in our case members.

126

:

and so to me It was I had to

work my way back to doing what I

127

:

considered the marketing experience.

128

:

so then I ended up here.

129

:

So it wasn't about Banking or finance.

130

:

It was about doing marketing.

131

:

Cliff Duvernois: So you were saying

before about being a first generation

132

:

college graduate in your family.

133

:

Your parents must of been very proud.

134

:

April Clobes, MSUFCU: Yeah.

135

:

my mom is very proud of me.

136

:

We talk about it a lot.

137

:

I give my mom all the credit

for how I got to my journey.

138

:

And how I was able to be successful.

139

:

And my dad left, when I was 10.

140

:

And so my mom was single mom to myself

and my brother for, since I've been 10.

141

:

And, She really had a lot of expectations.

142

:

Because she didn't want me to experience

what she had experienced, right?

143

:

She didn't have a chance

to attend college.

144

:

She, didn't have the maybe income

potential as a single parent, that is

145

:

afforded people who went to college.

146

:

And so it was a very big emphasis in

our household of study, get good grades,

147

:

work really hard, go to college and

you'll be able to support yourself.

148

:

And I tell that story all the time.

149

:

And my mom is like, ah, and I'm

like, mom, I am where I am because of

150

:

who you are.

151

:

Cliff Duvernois: Indeed.

152

:

April Clobes, MSUFCU: Yeah.

153

:

Cliff Duvernois: Beautiful.

154

:

So you've got hired in at the credit

union as a marketing specialist.

155

:

April Clobes, MSUFCU:

a marketing specialist.

156

:

Cliff Duvernois: So talk to us a little

bit about navigating the corporate ladder.

157

:

How did you start to, start to really make

a name for yourself and climb those rungs?

158

:

April Clobes, MSUFCU: Sure.

159

:

So you have to be in perspective.

160

:

I know people maybe know what our

organization looks like today.

161

:

1996, 27 years ago, we had a hundred

employees at the credit union.

162

:

We were 400 million asset institution,

very MSU local into Lansing.

163

:

So it was really easy to do extra

work, is what I always tell everyone.

164

:

So I started in marketing.

165

:

I'm actually old enough that we

did not have internet capable

166

:

programs at the credit union.

167

:

And when my predecessor in the

CEO position became the CEO of

168

:

the credit union, he had a big

focus on we needed to be online.

169

:

And we needed to be able to promote

our products and services online.

170

:

We needed to be able to

serve members online.

171

:

And we had nothing online.

172

:

And so when he became the CEO in

the year:

173

:

effort and initiative for the credit

union to become, wired online.

174

:

The true story is, he came and

said, Hey, we need a website.

175

:

And I'm the one, marketing

employee reporting to the

176

:

vice president of marketing.

177

:

And we may have had an intern or a

second, person that was, we always

178

:

had felt like one employee and a half.

179

:

and so I raised my hand because it

was like, I'm sure that's going to

180

:

require that I have to work extra.

181

:

Because I will need to do

my day to day already job.

182

:

And then we're going to do this website,

and I might make overtime, right?

183

:

And having put myself through college,

that seemed really appealing, that I

184

:

could, make a little extra cash, be

able to, maybe buy some fun clothes

185

:

and shoes, which was my passion.

186

:

And pay off my student loan.

187

:

So it sounded like a great idea.

188

:

So I literally taught myself

how to code a website, and...

189

:

HTML for dummies was a great

book when that came out.

190

:

Cliff Duvernois: Hey, I had it.

191

:

So I'm right there with you

192

:

April Clobes, MSUFCU: and it

journeyed from there to be honest.

193

:

And so I spent, really from about

:

194

:

operations and making them digital.

195

:

And I think some, I spoke

to new hires this morning.

196

:

And they asked a question

about my journey.

197

:

And no, I didn't set out to be the CEO.

198

:

But what I think happened in

that path is a few things.

199

:

One, I really, intricately knew

how the organization operated.

200

:

We took every process and put

it online for the member, right?

201

:

So if you had walked in the door to

do a transfer in your account, I had

202

:

to figure out how that worked, right?

203

:

And how are we going to put

it in a program that now

204

:

is a home banking program.

205

:

If you wanted to apply for

something online, what were

206

:

the fields that we needed?

207

:

And when that button hit submit,

what type of output file and how did

208

:

we get it into the core software to

actually open an account for you?

209

:

and what documentation was

needed from the members?

210

:

They came in all of those parts.

211

:

You learned how the data and the

information and the process flowed.

212

:

And you also learned all about

the service to the member and the

213

:

expectation and how to deliver that.

214

:

So I had this unique set of skills

that, I, probably can't be replicated

215

:

unfortunately today to find out

how things worked in a new way.

216

:

And so I got to do that for a long time.

217

:

And I went from, a manager and

to an AVP to a vp, until:

218

:

And in 2009, my first boss

here at the credit union,

219

:

the VP of marketing, retired.

220

:

Then I had the opportunity to

also, work with our marketing team.

221

:

in 2010, our then CEO, who was five

years from his retirement, had an

222

:

arrangement with the board that

no one knew, to prepare internal

223

:

candidates for his succession.

224

:

And myself and another individual were

those candidates and and I tease him

225

:

about it, so we have, and I still see

him, and he lives in town, and we joke

226

:

about it, I really thought, and now

I'm sure people can think this about

227

:

me, he was getting to be a certain age.

228

:

We were getting much bigger at this point.

229

:

We were over a billion dollars in assets.

230

:

Approaching two.

231

:

we just started thinking

well he he needs help right?

232

:

Like it's getting bigger.

233

:

So and probably he's getting older and all

those things that as a young person you

234

:

may assess without the life experience.

235

:

And so really what happened is the

organization leadership was divided

236

:

amongst the two of us to, learn other

operational areas of the credit union.

237

:

And we did that for a little bit.

238

:

And then another organization,

had a CEO position open.

239

:

And my counterpart applied for

and received that position.

240

:

I didn't really understand I was on this

journey to be considered to be the CEO.

241

:

But after she left, then he had a real

conversation with me of Oh, now we're

242

:

like less than two years away before

I'm going to make an announcement.

243

:

And three years before I leave.

244

:

And there's not enough time to

start preparing other people.

245

:

So it's now you.

246

:

And so then I was like,

that's what we're doing?

247

:

I wasn't prepared for that.

248

:

Most people are surprised to hear

this, but I'm an introvert by nature.

249

:

Being the CEO is a very extroverted job.

250

:

And my boss, he was very extroverted.

251

:

And so I was like, I can't do that.

252

:

And then we spent, the next two

years, and I learned other areas of

253

:

the organization, board operations,

and working with our Board of

254

:

Directors and all those great things.

255

:

I tell everybody that every

day is your job interview.

256

:

Because I felt like that my career

path gave me the opportunity.

257

:

The Board knew me from early

years when I'm presenting.

258

:

This is a website at the Board meeting.

259

:

Because no one knew what a website

was or how it worked except for me.

260

:

I made it.

261

:

and so you had some experiences that

made me uniquely positioned for the role.

262

:

and for people to know me along my journey

as we were making and creating new things.

263

:

Then the board, of course,

put me in the role.

264

:

I wouldn't be here with you right now.

265

:

Cliff Duvernois: We got a lot to unpack.

266

:

April Clobes, MSUFCU: I try to tell

that in a succinct way because it's

267

:

really like this weird journey, right?

268

:

Cliff Duvernois: No, but it's your

journey and I love it and we definitely

269

:

need to unpack a couple of things.

270

:

But for our audience, we're gonna take

a quick break to thank our sponsors

271

:

and when we come back I'm gonna pepper

April with all kinds of questions.

272

:

We'll see you after the break.

273

:

Are you enjoying these amazing stories?

274

:

Michigan is full of people that are

doing some pretty extraordinary things.

275

:

If you want these amazing stories

sent directly to your inbox,

276

:

head over to total michigan.com.

277

:

Enter your email address

and get them today.

278

:

What are you going to get?

279

:

I'm glad you asked.

280

:

First, you're gonna join our awesome

Michigan community Second, you

281

:

will get an email that includes

the top five interviews from the

282

:

show sent directly to your inbox.

283

:

Third, you're gonna get exclusive behind

the scenes information about the show.

284

:

There's a lot of things that are happening

to grow this movement beyond the confines

285

:

of just a radio show and a podcast.

286

:

You'll get advanced notice

of upcoming guests and early

287

:

access to their interviews.

288

:

Now to get all these goodies, just

head over to total michigan.com/join.

289

:

Enter your email address and

join our awesome community today.

290

:

Hello, everyone, and welcome back to

Total Michigan, where we interview

291

:

ordinary Michiganders doing some

pretty extraordinary things.

292

:

I'm your host, Cliff DuVernois.

293

:

Today, we're talking with April Clobes,

president and CEO of the Michigan

294

:

State University Federal Credit Union.

295

:

Might as well put it all

out there for everybody.

296

:

April, before the break, going back

when you first joined the credit union.

297

:

This was internets in its infancy.

298

:

Not a lot of people are online.

299

:

If they are they're probably in chat rooms

using aOL dial up or whatever what I would

300

:

like to do is I to explore the journey

of bringing the credit union online.

301

:

Because that for a lot of people

is a huge like culture shift.

302

:

Like we were so used to doing everything

via paper and, members have got to come

303

:

in and if you start to do it online, the

credit union is going to fail or whatever.

304

:

And I know you probably had some people

that may have give some resistance.

305

:

So talk to us about.

306

:

That, that literally like the

culture shift going on, going

307

:

from a pure paper world to online.

308

:

April Clobes, MSUFCU: As I was sitting

here trying to reflect on that, today

309

:

I could see what might happen with

the employees and the members, right?

310

:

At the time that I was tasked with

this, I was probably young and totally

311

:

oblivious in all honesty, right?

312

:

I'm a people pleaser by nature.

313

:

My boss gave me a job.

314

:

And I was going to achieve it, right?

315

:

and so I, I don't remember like

all the resistance to online.

316

:

But I do remember that, there

was a lot of me explaining and

317

:

talking about what we're doing.

318

:

And I think that's probably, I have

a marketing background, so I probably

319

:

just looked at, oh, we have a new

product, we have a new whatever, I

320

:

need to tell everybody what it is.

321

:

And so we did a lot of employee

meetings and said, oh, we're

322

:

going to have this website.

323

:

And here's how you're going to use it.

324

:

And here's what's on it.

325

:

And I'm going to come and sit in your

department, and you're going to help me.

326

:

Because that was also it.

327

:

I knew our products.

328

:

But I didn't know how to journey

them to the fine detail when a member

329

:

would call and ask, how do I apply?

330

:

I knew we had auto loans.

331

:

I knew the rates.

332

:

I knew you could apply and

come into the branch, right?

333

:

But then I didn't know what happened.

334

:

And so I did a lot of time shadowing

lots of employees and sitting with

335

:

them, watching what they were doing.

336

:

And then trying to, for me

and my marketing mind, right?

337

:

Draw it on a piece of paper and

make it look like a web form and

338

:

figure out if they push submit here.

339

:

Now what's going to

happen behind that form?

340

:

And where does it go and

touching our core software?

341

:

and so I think because again, we

were still a smaller organization

342

:

with just around 100 employees.

343

:

People knew what I was working on, right?

344

:

And I knew I was coming and

going to learn from them.

345

:

And I think the fact that people were

helping me figure all those processes

346

:

out really meant we were all in it.

347

:

I do remember getting an

opportunity to present to our

348

:

board at the, in the earlier years.

349

:

And it was when we were

beyond the first website.

350

:

But we started having conversations, you,

talking about AOL and all of that, right?

351

:

And but explaining we're

gonna, we need email addresses.

352

:

And, that members are going

to email us and ask questions.

353

:

And we needed to be able to serve people

via an email exchange versus a phone call.

354

:

I remember one of our board

members, who was a great human,

355

:

but at the point was retired.

356

:

And he retired before, there

was email in the office, right?

357

:

And I remember being in a board

meeting explaining, I remember

358

:

the hand going up and going.

359

:

Who's going to email us?

360

:

And what would they write?

361

:

And just like being confused

that what do you mean you don't

362

:

understand what they might email us.

363

:

Cause I was living this world

of we understood people would

364

:

email you anything just like they

would call and ask you anything.

365

:

But really then realizing I needed to

unpack that information for different

366

:

audiences at the organization, was

probably a great learning opportunity,

367

:

for the rest of my experience of

everyone is at a different point

368

:

in their journey with everything.

369

:

And so how do we make sure we're

touching everyone with what the

370

:

information they need at the time

they need it, internal and external?

371

:

And so then we went on a bigger

journey of let's talk about how

372

:

we're going to use this platform?

373

:

What for?

374

:

How will the members use it?

375

:

And then once it's going

live, come back and talk about

376

:

here's what people are doing.

377

:

Here's the data.

378

:

I mean I could probably still this day.

379

:

But I could at any point you could

ask me how many people applied for

380

:

their account online versus in person

And I could tell you that number.

381

:

How many people did a transaction

themselves right on the home banking

382

:

versus in the branch and so forth.

383

:

Because you needed to be able to show the

value of the work that you were doing.

384

:

if we were doing it correctly

and the members were responding.

385

:

So it, you became versed in things

differently than you used to before.

386

:

Cliff Duvernois: I love how you

evangelized the website and understanding

387

:

who your audience is to be able to

explain it to not only employees,

388

:

but also going up the ladder as well.

389

:

Like you were talking about

explaining it to the board.

390

:

April Clobes, MSUFCU: Yeah, that's

the nice part of a small organization.

391

:

And at the time when you were the

one leader that knew the technology

392

:

online, you then it was like, Hey, you

have to come and present to the board.

393

:

And that's why I said I had some very

unique everyday job opportunities by I

394

:

don't know today that an employee who is

working on a project would be invited to

395

:

a board meeting to explain it anymore.

396

:

And because now their leader

knows it, their leader's leader

397

:

knows it, all of those things

because of our scope and size.

398

:

But we were a flat organization.

399

:

And so you had a chance to demonstrate

your work and abilities not only to

400

:

your direct manager, but to many people.

401

:

Cliff Duvernois: historical

context, because you've mentioned

402

:

a couple times that when you first

started working here at the credit

403

:

union, there was 100 employees.

404

:

So what I would like to do

is, I'd to explore like a

405

:

little bit about the history.

406

:

Like when was the credit union founded?

407

:

When you joined it, like where

was it at that point in time?

408

:

April Clobes, MSUFCU:

We were founded in:

409

:

yeah, three years after the Federal Credit

nion Act was signed, which is:

410

:

our organization, there are people

who may not understand credit unions.

411

:

I'll try to do that real brief.

412

:

So, a credit union comes out of

the Federal Credit Union Act, which

413

:

was to have a banking alternative

for people of modest means.

414

:

We also are chartered to be, from the

federal charter, or a state charter.

415

:

So our organization is out of a

federal charter, means the federal

416

:

government, examines us versus

the state government examines us.

417

:

What that also means is how you're

chartered is you can be chartered

418

:

to serve communities, you can

be chartered to serve employers.

419

:

And we were chartered to serve an

employer, Michigan State University.

420

:

So the faculty, staff, we had to come

together and form the credit union.

421

:

And the credit union nature is our

board of directors are all volunteer.

422

:

And so for the first 20 years of the

credit union's existence, the board

423

:

of directors were the management

of the credit union volunteers.

424

:

And they ran the credit union

for 20 years for the employees

425

:

of Michigan State University.

426

:

And I tease today when I

go talk to students, right?

427

:

We all are used to go fund me and all

of those types of campaigns, right?

428

:

But in 1937, if you wanted

to borrow, I think we had a

429

:

maximum limit for $100 loan.

430

:

The board would call maybe 10

other Members that were in place.

431

:

Could you bring in $10 on deposit

so we can lend it over here?

432

:

then the board approved your loan

and the board knew who you were.

433

:

And they knew where you worked.

434

:

And the other people over

here knew who you were.

435

:

That, brought in the money on deposit.

436

:

But that's really the nature

of what a credit union is.

437

:

The members bring money in deposit, we

lend it to the members that need it.

438

:

so we operated like that for 20 years.

439

:

In 1957, the board of directors

hired their first employee, and

440

:

her name was Frances Liz Neskey.

441

:

I really always stop and pause.

442

:

1957, first employee manager of

the credit union is a female.

443

:

Fran was the leader of the

credit union for 30 years.

444

:

She was employee number one, and

then she leaves in the, in:

445

:

So we're probably at 60 employees

or something at that point.

446

:

But we had an office on a Kwanzaa

Hunt and MSU's campus at that point

447

:

until we moved and grew at that point.

448

:

Fran is our virtual assistant now.

449

:

And so that's, we named our virtual

assistant, our AI chat bot after

450

:

Fran because, is you gotta have a

great story for your AI assistant.

451

:

And so today the credit union is, When I

started, we were 400 million in assets.

452

:

When I became the CEO, we were 2.

453

:

5 billion in assets eight years ago.

454

:

And we're just, about 7.

455

:

7 billion in assets today.

456

:

We have a little over 1, 100 employees.

457

:

We are a statewide organization.

458

:

We have 23 branches throughout

the state of Michigan, not just

459

:

local in Lansing any longer.

460

:

Cliff Duvernois: That's an

incredible growth spurt.

461

:

When you started, there was a hundred.

462

:

Now you're at 1100.

463

:

That's like a levity

gabillion percent increase.

464

:

That is huge

465

:

April Clobes, MSUFCU: You can

feel that some days, right?

466

:

Yeah.

467

:

I meet with new hires every

month and I literally am like,

468

:

I want to know your name.

469

:

But I do want to also explain

there's one of me that you

470

:

will know who I am, of course.

471

:

And there are eleven hundred employees and

I'm trying really hard to know all of you.

472

:

But you have to help me, right?

473

:

I may not remember.

474

:

The first moment I see you, your name or

where you are placed in the organization.

475

:

Cliff Duvernois: let's take a couple

of minutes to discuss that, because

476

:

I'm a real big believer in the fact

that culture does flow downhill.

477

:

So let's talk about you because

there's a two year transition, right?

478

:

And I want to make sure that I

emphasize that because a lot of people

479

:

think, CEO just, says, I'm going to

retire and get somebody else in here.

480

:

But there was a two year period.

481

:

You step into the role of CEO.

482

:

And talk to us about your views

on culture, employee relations.

483

:

April Clobes, MSUFCU: My predecessor had a

great foundation for the organization and

484

:

we've always been, if we treat employees

well, have great programs, benefits,

485

:

competitive pay for employees, they

will actually want to come work here.

486

:

And if you want to come work here

and you enjoy the work that you're

487

:

doing, then you may be happier.

488

:

And when you're happier, you have a better

interaction with our members and Then

489

:

they are happier, and then they want to

do more business with us, then we have the

490

:

financial ability to continue that cycle.

491

:

Now, it sounds so easy.

492

:

But it does take a lot of work and time.

493

:

We've made changes, of course,

as I've been in the role.

494

:

we've strengthened a lot of practices.

495

:

we have, a very robust DEIMB program.

496

:

Diversity, Equity,

Inclusion, and Belonging.

497

:

what that means though, is in the

workplace, we relax dress code, right?

498

:

So when I first started working here,

women had to wear nylons, right?

499

:

And, you couldn't have hair

in any color you wanted, it

500

:

had to be like natural hair.

501

:

You couldn't have visible tattoos or

piercings, and all the very, what I would

502

:

call traditional banking, dress code.

503

:

and one of the first things that

somebody asked me when I began,

504

:

can, why can't I have purple hair?

505

:

And I just looked at the person

and I was like, I don't know why

506

:

you can't have purple hair, right?

507

:

If you want purple hair, go for it.

508

:

and so really breaking down the workplace,

so people, no matter who you are, feel

509

:

you can come here and be yourself.

510

:

And that takes away just one more level

of work anxiety that give you time

511

:

to focus on the great work that you

can be a part of in our organization.

512

:

And so we really work at cultivating that.

513

:

My life goal is that when you wake up

in the morning, you're not dreading

514

:

coming to work at the credit union.

515

:

And because I've had jobs like

that, I've had times, maybe, with

516

:

some folks that I might have worked

here at the credit union with.

517

:

And it's for me, it's always do you

like the mission of the work that we

518

:

are doing in addition to the culture

that we have for you as an employee.

519

:

And they both have to align

for who you are as a person.

520

:

And when you can do that, then

I think great things happen

521

:

and that's what I think we see

in our organization every day.

522

:

To give

523

:

Cliff Duvernois: in addition to going

from 100 to 1, 100 employees, how

524

:

many branches have you grown to now?

525

:

April Clobes, MSUFCU: so we have

23 today open and operating.

526

:

We have seven in progress.

527

:

and those, two of those are

here in Michigan and five are

528

:

in the downtown city of Chicago.

529

:

And, we also have announced, two

community bank acquisitions that

530

:

will provide five additional

branches in the suburbs of Chicago.

531

:

By the end of 2024, we will

have an additional 12 branches,

532

:

so 35 by the end of next year.

533

:

Cliff Duvernois: That's incredible.

534

:

How many customers are you

535

:

April Clobes, MSUFCU: Yeah.

536

:

So in our industry, they're members

537

:

Cliff Duvernois: Members, yes.

538

:

April Clobes, MSUFCU: I just,

I can't say customer I have.

539

:

that would just feel really awkward.

540

:

And so for us as members, and so

today we have 355, 000 members.

541

:

and they are nationwide and worldwide.

542

:

so about 30 percent of our membership

lives out of the state of Michigan, right?

543

:

yeah.

544

:

Cliff Duvernois: That is incredible.

545

:

April Clobes, MSUFCU: We have

lots of elligible members.

546

:

I always like That to remind people that.

547

:

We're chartered to serve all

things Michigan State University

548

:

and Oakland University.

549

:

Actually, today I'm wearing my

Oakland University colors as I

550

:

visited their campus earlier today.

551

:

But, Michigan State alone

has 500, 000 living alumni.

552

:

Oakland University is,

slightly shy of, 100, 000.

553

:

And so you put that together, right?

554

:

If everyone who could take advantage

of having their business, their

555

:

financial business with the credit

union, we could be even larger.

556

:

hmm.

557

:

Mm hmm.

558

:

Cliff Duvernois: That is That is

wonderful And I want to go back because

559

:

you mentioned something earlier about

being for the Michigan State employees.

560

:

But now we're talk about

students and alumni as

561

:

Is it literally anybody

associated with MSU?

562

:

And

563

:

April Clobes, MSUFCU: It's as

anybody associated who would like

564

:

to have an account with us, we can

open an account for anyone today.

565

:

So we were originally chartered for

the employees of the university.

566

:

Over time, you work with your

regulator and you move through a

567

:

process to add other constituent

groups to your field of membership.

568

:

And our world is called

field of membership.

569

:

So we expanded to include students,

alumni, not just the faculty and staff.

570

:

And then, Oakland university in

the fifties, was MSU Oakland.

571

:

And so when they became their

own independent university of

572

:

Oakland university, they were in

our field of membership still.

573

:

And so we actually serve

Oakland university as Oakland

574

:

University Credit Union.

575

:

So we run.

576

:

O U C U in the Oakland, campus area.

577

:

then also we, because of our charter,

credit unions have very unique

578

:

ways to be chartered, and we're

in charter as a select employer

579

:

group base, so that's what MSU was.

580

:

They were our selected employer.

581

:

But as that, you can add

incremental s employers.

582

:

and so we have added, One

by one, a lot of employers.

583

:

McLaren, Greater Lansing Hospital.

584

:

so though, they, there is a

regulatory process for approval.

585

:

The state of Michigan, employees.

586

:

So lots of employers have, gone

through the process to be approved by

587

:

our regulatory body that the, we will

serve them as a credit union as well.

588

:

And then we also run a foundation

that's called the Desk Door Fund.

589

:

Because we started at a desk drawer on

MSU's campus for those first 20 years.

590

:

if you are a donor to the desk drawer

fund, you are also eligible to open

591

:

an account at the credit union.

592

:

So if there is a process where

maybe you've exhausted all possible

593

:

connectivity, then you, we can, accept

your gift, to our scholarship fund and

594

:

then you're a donor to the foundation.

595

:

And then you become a member as well.

596

:

Cliff Duvernois: One final question I got.

597

:

as you're the CEO, why don't

you share with us the vision

598

:

of MSU Federal Credit Union?

599

:

April Clobes, MSUFCU: The vision

of the organization is to provide

600

:

superior service with human service

and technology working together to

601

:

provide financial access to all.

602

:

And when you break that down, really

what we're experiencing today is there's

603

:

always a digital journey to be had.

604

:

There's always an in

person or on the phone.

605

:

But a human person journey that

your business needs to have.

606

:

And they need to know how

to work well together.

607

:

There are people in our society that

only want to do self service and digital.

608

:

And there are people who

only want human help service.

609

:

And then there are people who fall in the

middle and you have to be able to hand

610

:

that off back and forth in a seamless way.

611

:

And then I think the pandemic era

taught us that the ability to serve

612

:

the volume that we are at today.

613

:

We will never be able to hire enough

people right now to do only human service.

614

:

So we have to have ways that technology

and digital are always working together.

615

:

So that's in our vision statement because

it provides the direction for projects.

616

:

It provides the path for what's

the focus of our organization.

617

:

Branching is the focus for us.

618

:

That's a human service capacity.

619

:

But when you walk in, there's

a digital component to it.

620

:

You check yourself in, just like at

the Secretary of State now, right?

621

:

I do, I can do an online appointment.

622

:

I have the ability to maybe manage my time

in the branch differently because we have

623

:

digital systems to help you with that.

624

:

So everybody's working

seamlessly together.

625

:

Cliff Duvernois: April, if somebody's

listening to this interview and they

626

:

want to check out more about what MSU

Federal Credit Union is about, what's

627

:

the best way for them to do that?

628

:

April Clobes, MSUFCU:

Well our website is www.

629

:

msufcu.

630

:

org.

631

:

You can certainly type

my name in LinkedIn.

632

:

And I'm sure you'll see lots

of things about us online.

633

:

Cliff Duvernois: April, thank you so

much for taking time out of your very

634

:

busy schedule to chat with us today.

635

:

I really do appreciate it.

636

:

April Clobes, MSUFCU: Thank you.

637

:

It's been a lot of fun.

638

:

Cliff Duvernois: For our audience, you

can always roll on over to TotalMichigan.

639

:

com, click on April's interview.

640

:

And, get the links that

she mentioned earlier.

641

:

We'll see you next week when we

talk to another Michigander doing

642

:

some pretty extraordinary things.

643

:

We'll see you then.

Follow