Back to All Blog Posts

Women’s History Month Special Employee Spotlight: Meet Claire Gorton

Company News
Posted on 
March 4, 2024
“I think you need to trust yourself. You need to be willing to speak your mind and not worry about the ramifications. You want to be in a company where the people you report to and the people you work with are willing to hear what you have to say and take your opinions to heart, and not just dismiss you because you're a woman.”

As part of our celebration of Women’s History Month, we’re pleased to spotlight… Claire Gorton, Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

“I’ve been here 28 years in May, and I really only had one other job,” Claire told us. “I graduated from Penn State with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting in 1986. From there, I worked in internal audit at GMAC mortgage. I was in that position for a while, but [then] I moved to corporate accounting, and was working on financial statements for the mortgage company. Then I went to Treasury Services, and I was working there when I left in 1996. So, I was almost there for 10 years – [Apex] is only my second job out of college. I started here in May of 1996, when it was just Apex Mortgage, as the Controller. I didn't have anybody working for me – I did it all myself because we were so small. And then, as we got bigger, we hired someone to help me, and… well, I only had one person helping me until we added Equipment Financing. And then in 2000, we were purchased by the bank. And here we are.”

What are your responsibilities as CFO?

“I am responsible for maintaining and protecting all the assets of the company. I am responsible for doing all the packages – the financial statements first – then doing the Board packages. I’m responsible for ensuring reconciliations are done and in balance, ensuring our cash position is adequate if we need to pay down our line of credit or take advances. Maintaining the general ledger, making sure it's all accurate and that the financial statements are an accurate reflection of where the company is, from a financial standpoint.”

How would you describe your leadership style?

“I'm very hands off. I'm not a micromanager. If you have a problem, you come and see me, and I'll help you. I think I motivate by leading by example. I'm more than willing to jump in and do whatever I need to do to help my team get whatever they need done. I don't want to be in your day-to-day stuff unless you need me to be. I don't do one-on-ones. I figure if you need me, you'll come see me. If you don't come see me, then I figure everything's fine.”

What are your current goals?

“I think to be able to help out with any kind of special things that the sales guys want to do. Any initiatives that we want to do to help increase production, or if we want to look into purchasing a portfolio – I always say, 'Whatever you guys need, we'll figure out away to do it.' That's my mantra. Everything might not be able to be tracked within the existing system, there might be some manual stuff that we have to do, at least at the beginning – but whatever you need to do, I'll find a way to do it so that we can get those initiatives going and bring more money into the bank.”

Do you do anything in particular to continue to learn?

“I have my CPA license, so I do my continuing education. Every two years we have to do 80 hours, and you have to do that over two years. So, I'll do those. And I try to do things that are pertinent to my job – lease accounting and things like that. And there's some stuff related to managing employees. And then when we do the compliance for the bank, as well. A lot of its related to money laundering, and being on the ball and looking out for things like that.”

What advice would you give to people in leadership roles, particularly women in leadership roles?

“I think you need to trust yourself. I think you need to be willing to speak your mind and not worry about the ramifications of doing that. You want to be in a company where the people you report to and the people you work with are willing to hear what you have to say and take your opinions to heart, and not just dismiss you because you're a woman, or because you might not be a producer. That doesn't mean I don't have some insight into what might be a better way to do something, because I've been here a long time.

I think you can't be afraid to speak up. If you see things that need to be changed, or at least you want to understand why things are the way they are, you need to say something. And you can't let people just dismiss you because you're a woman or you might not have all the experience that they have– that doesn't mean that what you're requesting isn't pertinent or worthwhile.”

What would you say are the most important qualities you look for if you're looking to hire somebody?

“Somebody who doesn't shy away from doing the grunt work. Because a lot of what’s done is grunt work – it's doing journal entries, importing invoices and paying them – and it can get tedious. So, somebody who's willing to get down and dirty and do what needs to be done. I mean, even for me, if Steph’s not here, I'm doing journal entries, I'm cutting checks – I'm doing all of what she does because it needs to be done. So, I want somebody who's willing to do that and not think that they're above that type of work. That's really important.

Also, somebody who isn't just a ‘yes’ person; I don't need a ‘yes’ person. I need somebody who's going to think about what they're doing and why they're doing it. And if it doesn't make sense, they're going to ask questions. Even if I say, 'This is what you should do,' but it doesn't make sense – don’t do it just because I tell you to do it. You need to be willing to ask the questions.”

What do you think is the most important chance that you've taken in your career?

“I think leaving GM was the biggest chance I took because here I went from GMAC Mortgage, a subsidiary of General Motors, a big company, to [Apex]. We had, when I started, I don't even know if we had 12 people here. It was very small. I took a huge risk to leave a big company after almost 10 years to come to this little company and hope that it would sustain me for the rest of my career if I wanted to stay here. So, I think that’s really the big thing.”

What’s your favorite thing to do outside of work?

“I like to travel with my husband and my kids. We like to hike. And we like to hang out with our friends who we love. We have a really good group of friends in our neighborhood, and we all hang out together. We have a lot of fun.”

What are you most proud of?

It might sound cliché but I am most proud of my kids. They are both hard working and truly good, caring people. What really makes me happy is that we love spending time together as a family.


You might also be interested in