Why PensionBee’s CEO leads with purpose and authenticity

The pension company’s founder and CEO, Romina Savova, discusses work-life balance, leadership tips and the challenges of starting a business in a male-dominated industry

How would you describe your leadership style?

It tends to be quite authentic and quite honest. I try to look at multiple different perspectives when I’m forming views and recognise that everyone has something that they bring to the table. A business has to serve all of its stakeholders. My approach will be to make sure that I achieve the right balance between everyone.

What are your top three tips for female business leaders?

One, to give it your all. Creating a business is incredibly hard work. But the more you invest in it, the more likely you are to be successful. My second tip is to make sure that you are doing something that gives you a lot of purpose. Purposeful businesses are inspirational businesses and with all the energy that you’re investing in growing your company, you will also need to feel that you are making a positive difference. And purpose can help you achieve that. And my third tip would be to integrate your business with your personal life. A business is a little bit like a child, and it needs to coexist with everything else that you do. Finding the happy balance that works for you is going to be the most important thing for longevity.

What myth or stereotype about women in leadership roles would you like to break?

The most important myth about women in leadership roles is that they are male-like, and I think it’s important to recognise that women are often successful because they are women. And the traits that make them female are the traits that have allowed them to prosper, whether that’s their empathy, whether it’s the way that they make decisions, and whether it’s just their approach to running companies and being in the team. It’s the fact that you are a woman that I think can make you a very successful leader.

My advice to women isn’t that different from my advice to men, especially if you’re going to be leading. You need to be the kind of person that you would want to be led by

What were the challenges you faced in starting your own business in a male-dominated industry?

Finance in particular is male dominated and the fact that it is male dominated is also enforced onto women. You come into the environment, and you can definitely see that you’re the only female. But also, it’s mentioned a lot, which I found very surprising. If you are female in a male-dominated environment, I think just prepare yourself for that and understand that you are different and that you’re still going to thrive and be successful. It’s part of the preparation battle that you need to do with yourself.

How do you maintain a work-life balance as a business owner?

It’s incredibly hard. I think it comes from enjoying what you do. Usually, people need to separate work and life because what they want to do in life is seen as a thing they enjoy more than work. The trick is to do what you absolutely love, so that you don’t mind it being part of your whole life. Because the reality of running your own business is it is going to be part of your whole life. You have to love it. and it has to be purposeful, otherwise it’s not going to be possible.

The most important thing is making sure that I spend quality time with my kids. I’m constantly trying to find ways to be together in a way that when they look back, five or 10 years from now, they will remember that as quality time. Sometimes it means I have to invest a bit less quantity, but be mindful of how I can achieve that quality.

What advice would you give to aspiring leaders?

My advice to women isn’t that different from my advice to men, especially if you’re going to be leading. You need to be the kind of person that you would want to be led by. Whether that means listening and acting upon that listening or whether it means responding with empathy to concerns; it’s a good lesson for everyone.