FinTech Female Fridays: Meet Founder and CEO, Angela Ceresnie
Updated: Jul 8, 2021
Having spent most of her career in lending or lending-adjacent businesses, Angela Ceresnie has brought to the industry a thoughtful approach towards credit and creditworthiness in a more expansive and inclusive way. “I see inclusivity as both a wider range of approvals and reduction in disparate impact. If we can solve both of these things we will help more people access the credit they need and reduce the bias that, unfortunately, still exists in much of the financial system today.” Angela’s incredible sense of direction and zeal towards an efficient, all-inclusive, and solutions-driven credit system is an inspiration.
Full name: Angela Ceresnie
Current job title: CEO
Current company: Climb Credit
Current location: New York
"I’ve been so fortunate to be a part of this industry as it has grown and scaled over the past 9 years. I’ve almost always worked in lending or lending-adjacent businesses and I believe what I’ve brought to the industry is a thoughtful approach to how to think about credit and creditworthiness in a more expansive and inclusive way."
In the beginning of her financial career, Angela ran credit risk analytics teams at American Express and Citibank where she made billions of dollars' worth of data-driven credit decisions. Soon after in 2012, she co-founded and was COO/CFO of Orchard Platform — a provider of software and data products offered to institutional investors to purchase loans from marketplace lenders (now acquired by Kabbage). In 2016, she joined Climb as the Chief Operating Officer and quickly helped shape the operations, culture, and future of the Climb, earning the role of CEO in 2018.
Advancing a career, gaining essential skills, and taking the next step towards one’s education is a big financial decision. Climb Credit helps expand student access to career-advancing education by offering loans and affordable payment options to attend partnered schools. At Climb, Angela’s mission is to bring thoughtful credit and financial products to the alternative, career-advancing education industry - a $15B industry that is growing rapidly as people are looking for alternatives to the broken traditional higher education system which has indebted the younger generations. She is currently focused on two objectives - continuing to get the ClimbPay product (the payment platform for schools) into the hands of more customers and raising the company’s Series B.
Having seen the FinTech industry grow and scale over the last decade, Angela is excited to see the further development of continued innovation around underwriting and improved embedded financial solutions. Innovation around underwriting should involve the ability to leverage data outside of just traditional credit scores (like FICO) to be more inclusive and comprehensive.
Angela believes that improved embedded financial solutions are transformational. “Many software companies deliver world-class solutions to companies but fall short in solving their most acute issues, access to capital, and flexible payment solutions. You see in the rise of Square (and Square Capital), Shopify and their partnership with Affirm, and Stripe’s partnership with Afterpay, that offering flexible software solutions that embed financial options in them is the wave of the future!”
Despite great success, self-doubt and lack of self-confidence is something Angela recognizes as the biggest challenges she has had to overcome in her life. Angela channelizes these moments of self-doubt, digs deep, and summons the courage, strength, willpower to conquer the challenge. Along the way, she has had mentors guiding her through her journey. “My boss from American Express and Citi, Tina Reich, was hands down the most important mentor in my life - and I’ve accumulated a number of them.” Ever since, Angela has allowed herself to develop and identify her natural strengths and has leveraged those strengths in the best ways to maximize her success and that of her colleagues and organization.
More on Angela
Currently live: I am currently living in upstate NY in the country, but headed back to Brooklyn soon! I live with my 2 daughters - ages 7 and 9, my husband (also a FinTech CEO), and our dog Buddy (Boston Terrier)
Hometown: I’m originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan - Go Blue!
Favorite hobby: Cooking (or anything food-related, really), traveling (when it’s allowed!), and yoga.
Favorite part of your day: My first sip of coffee in the morning and hanging with my girls at the end of the workday are tied :)
Productivity hack: Read Getting Things Done by David Allen - there are so many in there and they are all GOLD.
7:00 am: Wake-up. I’m not a morning person, but somehow I end up waking up early on the weekends even though I don’t need to! I’m lucky because my husband wakes up even earlier than I do, so he usually makes some coffee which I can drink as soon as I get up.
8:00 am: I basically just hang out in bed and wait for my kids to wander in. I have 7 and 9 year old daughters so they don’t wake up super early, and usually come in an hour or so after I wake up. This weekend it was around 8.
8:30 am: Breakfast! We love having bagels on the weekend, they are easy to grab from the local place and always a crowd-pleaser. We usually get a few sandwiches and also a few extras to nibble on throughout the weekend.
10:00 am: Farmers Market and shopping - We live in upstate NY (originally from Brooklyn but up here during COVID). So we take advantage of the amazing farmers market up here in Kingston. My older daughter and I head there to check out what is in season and grab some fish as well. The fishmonger at the farmers market is INCREDIBLE. We then head to Target to grab a few things that we need. Basically a relaxed shopping morning. My younger daughter and husband are at the dog park with our Boston Terrier, Buddy
while we’re shopping.
2:00 pm: I drop my daughter off at a birthday party (outdoor laser tag!) for one of her classmates. I head home and start making dinner and hanging out with my younger daughter, husband, and the dog.
5:00 pm: My older daughter comes back and we work on some legos that we bought at Target until dinner time.
6:00 pm: Dinner! We eat some of the stuff we grabbed at the Farmers Market - I love cooking so especially love Saturdays where I can casually cook all day.
7:30 pm: We get ready for bed but really we’re getting ready to watch Gilmore Girls! We’ve been binge-watching that show! So we all cuddle together and watch a couple of episodes before closing down for the night.
7:00 am: Wake up and start getting ready for the day. I drink some coffee and then start getting myself ready before my kids wake up.
7:30 am: Kids get woken up and they start getting ready for the day. Older daughter has remote learning today, but she still gets dressed and ready beforehand. My younger daughter goes to school and needs to head out around 8:15 am.
8:00 am: Babysitter gets here and helps me to get them all together and takes my younger daughter to school while I hang with my older daughter until her school starts at 9 AM.
9:00 am: Meetings start! First I have a 1:1 with Ravi, Climb’s Chief Product Officer. We talk about a call we have with one of our board members later this morning and a potential partnership he’s working on.
9:30 am: I have an interview with a potential candidate here at Climb - great conversation!
10:00 am: I have a Zoom parent-teacher conference for my older daughter with her teachers - it was good!
10:30 am: No meetings, I catch up on emails and general backlog from the morning so far.
11:00 am: Meet with Ravi and one of our board members to talk about product strategy - it was a really good meeting and super interesting - as usual!!!
11:30 am: Call with a reporter to talk about Climb and our products.
12:00 pm: Zoom meeting with a client to do some user research. I’m a bystander on this call but always find it interesting to hear how things are going with our Clients and how their businesses are going!
1:00 pm: Quick lunch! Usually, I just reheat something I can find in the fridge while also starting to prep for our All-Hands meeting which is later in the day.
1:30 pm: I have a 1:1 w/ Casey, Climb’s Chief Operating Officer. We are focused on talking about fundraising and an upcoming board meeting.
2:00 pm: All Hands meeting! I always speak at these meetings but today I’m presenting our fundraising strategy so I’m a little more nervous than usual. :)
2:30 pm: Another meeting with Casey and a few others to discuss Fundraising strategy.
3:00 pm: Another interview for a potential candidate.
3:30 pm: Prep for my next meeting which is a fundraising pitch.
4:00 pm: Fundraising pitch! These always give me butterflies but are also super energizing.
5:30 pm: Done with meetings so focus on email clean-up and generally organizing feedback from the fundraising meetings. I also take the end of the day to reflect on what I did and what I have going on tomorrow. This is the time when I may make adjustments to tomorrow’s schedule in case I see that it’s not serving my goals for the day.
6:30 pm: Dinner with the family and attempt to turn off phones and screens.
7:00 pm: Let the kids get on their iPads for a minute so I can dive back in and finish up clearing out the backlog from the day.
7:45 pm: We all hang out together and watch an episode of Gilmore Girls.
Reach Out to Angela on LinkedIn