‘You improvise your way through the day’: A day in the life of Rachel Anderika, chief risk officer at Anchorage Digital Bank
- As chief risk officer for Anchorage Digital Bank, Rachel Anderika is the one the company calls on to make the big decisions.
- From navigating an unpredictable work schedule to getting her three-year-old son to eat a bagel, here’s a day in her life.
Anchorage Digital, a regulated crypto custody platform for institutions, gained some attention when it became the first federally chartered digital asset bank in 2021.
There's a lot of risk that comes with entering uncharted chartered territory. That's where Rachel Anderika’s role as chief risk officer at Anchorage Digital Bank comes in.
"My role is to make sure that from an enterprise perspective, we have appropriate controls and risk management across our banking entity," said Anderika.
But while her role may involve focusing on the future, Anderika has a special place in her heart for the past, including diving into history books and sailing her 100-year-old boat.
Here's a day in her life:
I would love to be one of those people who start their day with meditation, but that’s just not my morning.
I'm a mom of a three-year-old who is potty training, so my day usually doesn’t start in the most glamorous way. More often than not, it tends to involve my toddler coming in, me praying he hasn’t peed himself – or on me – and him either smiling, laughing, or crying, depending on what he’s feeling at that moment.
I’ve found that when you're a parent of a small kid, you're improvising your morning. So even though I set my alarm clock for 5 am thinking that I'm going to do a round on my Peloton, I never do.
I'm invariably woken up by my toddler, and I spend the next hour negotiating with him, whether it’s getting him to put his shorts on or eat a bagel.
In a nutshell, my mornings are about not only getting my son out the door to school, but happy out the door to school.
And after that, usually I have a little bit of time to have coffee, read through emails, and center myself for the day.
But, you know, it's always a bit of a movable feast.
The most important thing that I do every morning is take a look at my calendar, and ask myself, do I need to be in all these meetings, or is there somebody on my team who can be my effective proxy? Can I delegate effectively?
That’s a big thing I have to make sure I’m staying on top of: when a team member is speaking for me in a meeting, I have to make sure that person is feeling empowered and enabled to do so. Because that allows me to multiply myself. It allows me to manage my time effectively.
Rachel Anderika, chief risk officer at Anchorage Digital Bank
I think there's an important balance between delegating and empowering. The way that I try to think about the people on my team is in terms of where they have a level of expertise that I do not. So, for example, one of the people on my team is responsible for model risk management, because I am not an expert in that, and so I make sure that each decision matches the right level of expertise as much as possible.
That's kind of how I see my role.
And the rest of my day is really about figuring out what I need to make a quick decision on and what needs a little bit more focus and thoughtfulness.
One of the things that I have to do as chief risk officer is make a call on certain risk decisions. And so if we have risk assessments, I might need to really think about the controls that we have, I might really need to consider where Anchorage Digital Bank is in relation to the market as a whole, and what these activities mean for us given our specific participation in that activity. So anything that has to do with risk assessments, policy decisions, risk decisions – if I'm looking at some reporting from another area that might inform something else that I'm doing, I'm going to spend a little bit more time with it, particularly if it's to do with facts and figures that I really need to dig into rather than take at face value.
And if I can, I'll move the more high-focus tasks to the end of the day, where I have a little bit more time before daycare ends and my babysitter leaves.
I like to prepare my day and triage accordingly.
I generally have a lot of meetings that are packed up in the mornings and afternoons. But I do always take a little bit of a lunch break – even if it's 10 or 15 minutes – to take some time away from the computer, be able to eat the right food, and just drink some water.
I'm fortunate to be able to work remotely, and so if I can, I like to take a little walk around the block – anything to just kind of step away and not look at a screen for a little while. I think it’s really important.
And when that break happens is often flexible. When you work from home, you improvise your way through the day and take what it is that you need when you're able to get it.
Every night, I really try to have a little bit of time where I can read something that's not work-related. There's always so much going on in the crypto industry – it's a 24/7 space, and there's always a new article or a new policy discussion to be aware of, and so there's a lot of reading that happens when you are in this industry, in general. There’s just so much to know – it’s always on.
And so I like to take some time to read about things that are not crypto-related. I haven't read anything fiction since college. My favorite genre, I’d say, is history. I love history books. So I will often read something about presidential history, or the Civil War.
I'm reading a book right now about the financing of the Civil War – about how Lincoln's Treasury Secretary worked to finance that.
So I'm always trying to read something that takes my mind off the day-to-day grind. But even in that, I find there’s always something relevant to the crypto industry.
Some of the issues in crypto are very similar to things the early founders of the banking system had to deal with. We talk about that all the time.
There have been people who worry about inflationary pressures since the dawn of American history. And so this is something that we're still thinking about today in crypto: questions like, how do you regulate currency? Or how do you think about the establishment of a regulatory regime for something new? All these have parallels within history. That's the most fascinating thing about crypto: it's an extension of a lot of different thinking.
So some of the things that we're dealing with today around regulatory uncertainty have their roots in the Civil War, and these are kind of extensions of the same questions.
Another thing I love to do is sailing. My husband and I are really big sailors – my husband especially. We have a racing boat that will turn 100 next year – and we love to take it out on the weekends.
We can never get our act together to be able to get a boat in the water in the summer. We're just not that organized. But that's okay, because fall sailing is one of the most beautiful times of year here in Connecticut. The trees turn yellow and orange and it’s just beautiful.
And so when my son was a very little baby, I used to put him in a front pouch and we’d all go together. As he's gotten older, our sails have gotten shorter because he's more cognizant, but he still loves it. It's his fourth season.