Are you a woman in NYC Tech and interested in participating in this series? Make sure to read the whole article…
Much has been said and written about the lack of women in the tech sector, be it as investors (or associates), founders, or in management positions at major companies. Is the problem the old boys network – or that success in technology is seen as a young man’s game? In this series, we speak with some of the top women in tech in New York as they discuss the challenges they face, the perceptions that need to be changed and the work that’s being done – or not – to help to promote women in tech.
Today we speak with Angela Galardi Ceresnie, COO of Climb Credit, the smart student-lending platform. After undergrad and roles at Citi and American Express, Angela took her financial acumen to the startup world in 2013 to cofound Orchard Platform, an investment platform for the peer-to-peer and online direct lender, with Matt Burton, Jonathan Kelfer and David Snitkof. During Angela’s time at Orchard, the company had raised over $40M in funding, backed by some notable investors including John Mack, Thrive Capital, and Spark Capital. In 2016, Angela transitioned to Climb Credit to work alongside the founding team to help it scale. Angela is an active member of the NYC tech ecosystem and continues to give back to the community through her involvement.
Angela Galardi Ceresnie, Climb Credit
What’s your background and how did you develop your career as a female entrepreneur in the NYC tech ecosystem?
I have an engineering degree from the University of Michigan, and I started my career working in risk management at both American Express and Citi. I learned a great deal about how large companies operate and about the financial services industry. However, I was interested in trying something new and the idea of starting my own company was exciting to me—when a friend of mine and I had an idea for a technology startup in the financial services space I jumped at the opportunity. At the beginning, we all did a bit of everything – but over time I evolved my role to be an operations and finance executive, which has been an amazing transition for my career.
We have a unique perspective that we can bring to the table, what has historically been, a primarily male-dominated field, and that allows us to make useful observations and a significant impact as long as we stand behind our ideas. There is also no shortage of support from other women in the industry.
What can be done to further promote female entrepreneurs and women in tech in New York?
In a lot of ways women are still compartmentalized away from non-female entrepreneurs. Events that promote and showcase women in tech and female entrepreneurs are great, but I think it’s important for women to get represented without it being “because you’re a woman.” Sectioning off women, even if it is to elevate them, is still treating them differently from men. However, I do like the idea of safe spaces for women to discuss the unique challenges we face and how we’ve handled them. The #metoo movement and others have been a great example of the power in numbers women can have when we operate together.
What is diversity to you and do you see it evolving in tech?
Diversity to me is bringing in people from various backgrounds, who’ve had different experiences in their lives. And then, not just using people who look like a stock photo tagged “diversity” as window dressing, but bringing them into the decision-making and generating ideas fostered by this array of viewpoints.
Why do you think it’s important that women retain, grow, and develop into senior roles within their organizations?
Again, women have unique experiences and perspectives that we can bring to the table. Having more women in senior positions only broadens the scope of ideas and points of view at the top.
You’ve successfully raised funding for your business from investors. What tips do you have for fellow female founders?
Don’t be shy or nervous that you might be the only woman in the room. If people give you a hard time, that’s about them, not about you.
Do you think fundraising for your business would be more difficult if you did not have a male cofounder?
It’s hard to say. Having a cofounder in general often doubles your potential network for fundraising efforts, and having a male to bring different viewpoints than my own doesn’t hurt. Diversity goes both ways in that way. Fundraising is always difficult whether you’re male or female, what’s important is that your cofounder is dedicated and reliable—regardless of their gender.
It’s statically proven that women-led companies are more successful than their male counterparts. Why do you think they still only get 2% of funding available for new ideas?
Despite any track record of success, men are commonly still more trusted than women – especially by other men, which most investors are. There have been multiple studies throughout the years—and spanning industries—showing that people, when given equally-qualified candidates with both stereotypically male and female names, tend to place more respect and trust in the male candidate.
Please tell us about a few organizations that you are involved with or respect that are promoting women in tech.
I have a number of female friends and colleagues who have started or run companies around New York that I respect immensely. I’ve made it a point to develop relationships with these women as we tend to have a lot of shared experiences and can help each other solve problems that are unique to our work.
How much do you think casual sexual harassment and misconduct affects a woman’s career?
It drives talented women from the room, and prevents others from entering in the first place. There’s no place for any type of sexual harassment in the workplace. I’ve been lucky enough to avoid it, but I know for many women, this is sadly not the case.
What can men do to support this movement and/or participate in this discussion?
Listen to women’s experiences and ideas—and actively support them.
The team at AlleyWatch believes it’s important to have an inclusive discussion around the challenges facing women in tech along with highlighting the work of the female entrepreneurs that have made NYC one of the best places for women in tech according to some recent studies. That’s why we are running this series that showcases women in tech in New York.
If you are a female founder in NYC working in tech and interested in participating in the series please visit this link or click on the image above.
Please feel free to pass this on to any women in NYC that you feel should be considered for the series. Thank you.