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  • Elsie Russell

FinTech Female Fridays: Meet the General Counsel at Climb Credit, Alecia Chen

While working on a beach in Belize on her birthday, Alecia Chen quickly realized that practicing corporate law at a large law firm wasn't making her happy. Alecia's took a hard look at how to pivot and found a way she could use her legal skills at new and exciting fintechs. Her path from traditional law to the leading fintech OnDeck took active work and she took every opportunity to try new things: partnerships, international expansion, and eventually moved to a new city to run a non-legal operations and strategy team.

Now at Climb Credit, Alecia is passionate about the firm's mission: to empower individuals to unlock their career potential – no matter what their credit profile. Alecia leads Climb Credit's Legal, Compliance, and External Affairs functions, handle various other business operations strategic initiatives, and acted as interim People Operations leader. And the numbers prove Climb is helping: the median salary increase for a Climb school graduate is 64%!

Alecia learned to look inward at what makes her happy when it comes to her career and in life. Travel is a must for Alecia. Before Climb Credit, Alecia and her husband took a pre-Covid 6-month sabbatical and traveled all over South Asia, South East Asia, and Europe. Her sabbatical gave her the refresh she needed after 5 years at OnDeck and to remind herself to be guided by what success means to her, rather than what it’s “supposed” to mean.


More on Alecia

Where you currently live / quarantine: Brooklyn

Hometown: Toronto

Favorite hobby: snowboarding, going on food adventures

Favorite part of your day: the couple of hours in between finishing work and eating dinner; I’m not a morning person and I try to relax post-dinner, so this is my time to be productive on non-work items

Favorite show to binge: The Office, still!


What trends in FinTech and your specific sector are you excited about seeing developing?

  • Focus on career-advancing education: we are seeing increased interest in our space and in understanding outcomes as part of evaluating programs and schools

  • Access to credit/fairness: there is a lot of public discourse right now around fair access to credit for historically disadvantaged groups

  • Diversity and inclusion initiatives: I’m glad to see so many organizations pledge their commitment to hiring diverse and inclusive teams, and I hope that we see organizations actually act in accordance with these priorities, including taking action to hire POC candidates and pay them equitably

  • Innovative payment methods: there are so many versions of “buy now pay later” being made available to consumers, and many of these are no or low interest rate options


Daily Dairy


7:30 am: wake up, make tea, try to grab my overnight steel-cut oats from the fridge and realize I failed to make them yesterday, make inferior regular oatmeal instead

9:00 am: log into email and slack; spend the next hour catching up on what came in late Friday/over the weekend

10:00 am: speak with outside legal counsel on regulatory questions

11:00 am: negotiate terms of a capital markets loan financing deal with counsel for our counterparty

12:00 pm: meet with our Partnerships team to discuss questions from our internal team and school partners; consider how we can provide resources to answer these FAQs

1:30 pm: weekly all-hands staff meeting, led by a different member of the Climb leadership team each week. We are growing the team and new team members get to introduce themselves

2:30 pm: Lead cross-functional meeting focused on expanding our total addressable market

3:30 pm: block an hour (don’t check slack/email) to focus on reviewing comments to school agreements

5:00 pm: weekly External Affairs meeting to discuss progress on our various initiatives (including partnering with a non-profit organization to enhance our gathering of outcomes from learners, regulatory compliance projects, thought leadership/op-eds, and membership in industry/trade groups)

6:00 pm: join weekly workout session offered by a partner of one of our employees

7:00 pm: set up cleaning, bike storage, painting for apartment (we just moved back to Brooklyn!)

8:00 pm: dinner

9:00 pm: catch up on TV (currently very into Station Eleven)


7:30 am: wake up, make tea, eat overnight oats!

9:30 am: weekly Executive meeting to discuss top priorities for the week

10:30 am: biweekly Operations “L10” meeting

11:30am: attend TechGC (group of in-house lawyers generally at Tech/VC-backed companies) webinar on a topic relevant to many group members, e.g. privacy, equity grants, vendor contracts

2:00 pm: monthly diversity, equity, and inclusion meeting

3:00 pm: weekly 1:1 with direct report & weekly 1:1 with manager

5:00 pm: update the status of my “rocks” and “milestones” where they are tracked in jira (we set quarterly rocks covering special initiatives outside of regular day-to-day work)

6:00 pm: walk to grocery store (the one around the corner if I’m short on time; Trader Joe’s if I have a bit more time), regret buying too much/wonder what it’s like to have a car as I walk home

7:30 pm: dinner at one of the many restaurants in our neighborhood, Clinton Hill

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