I’ve always been really good at
assessing new problems, breaking
them down into their component
parts, and then fguring out how
to solve them. In high school, I was
always good at math, but I was really
good at logic, which is a classic chief
operating ofcer skill.
Having been Orchard’s COO, there
were many challenges at Climb
where I was like, “Oh, yeah. I’ve
done this.” Diferent company, same
thing. It’s not rocket science.
When I was approached for
Climb’s top role, the biggest question was, “Do I want to be a CEO?”
I talked to a lot of people, but being
a CEO is kind of like childbirth.
People can explain it a million times,
but you won’t know it until you go
through it. You consistently deal
with scenarios that you’ve never
seen before. Maybe at some point
that stops. It hasn’t for me, yet.
My job had been to be the practical
person, to know all the numbers and
give a sense that someone’s running
a tight ship. Especially for fundraising: As the COO, I’m not
thinking, “What’s the big-picture
answer?” I’m thinking, “What’s the
practical answer?” When you’re the
How I learned
to be a CEO
CEO, you need to be the visionary
who’s explaining how there’s going
to be a massive opportunity, and
also run the tight ship. You also have
these moments as CEO: You’re in a
meeting, and a really hard question
gets asked—a gnarly question that
no one really knows how to answer—
and you have to have a good answer.
Internally, as CEO, many employees don’t want to problem-solve
with you. They want to put their
best foot forward. Being a part of the
messy fguring-it-out—that doesn’t
make everyone comfortable. I’ve
been working on when to let people
fgure it out and not meddle—but
also fguring out when I do need to
meddle, when something has raised
to a level where it is actually my job.
I had a lot of imposter syndrome at
Orchard. I had had no experience
with startups, and I was also a mom.
I was like, “All the startups are run
by 22-year-old white men. I’m not
that. I’m pregnant.” I didn’t feel like
I ft into the box.
I have a network of advisers and
mentors, and I would like to hire a
CEO coach. That’s something you
see more and more at big companies.
A coach can be that frst line when
you’ve got some complicated thing,
and you don’t want to talk to your
staf, because maybe you don’t know
the path, and don’t want to talk to
your investors, because you don’t
want to go to them with some
But I’ve also tried to develop that
So I’m ready.
muscle of not needing external
validation. I have a sense of where
I will struggle and where I will
be naturally strong. It’s
been fun to take these
problems and fgure out how I can
solve them the way I solve problems.
So far, when I’ve challenged myself
to do things, I’ve been able to do
Angela Ceresnie j She stepped up
MEET THE NEW BOSS
fntech veteran—and, now,
Angela Ceresnie was “really
comfortable” being COO at
Orchard Platform, the fntech
frm she co-founded. In 2016,
she took on the same role at
Climb Credit, which provides
student loans for career
training. Eventually, she
was ofered Climb’s top
to grow into it.
AS TOLD TO MARIA ASPAN