Romi Savova, CEO and founder of PensionBee, is a self-described life-long saver. She graduated with an MBA from Harvard Business School in 2012 and is passionate about helping people to take control of their retirement.
What do you think makes a good leader?
A good leader is someone who listens to all of their stakeholders, primarily their customers. It’s someone who is capable of taking criticism constructively, and who values criticism from a range of different sources, including their own employees.
What single thing do you think would make your job easier?
My personal job would be a lot easier with a pension switch guarantee because I still find myself battling against legacy providers who put up all sorts of barriers for customers to move their own money to a provider of their choice.
What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self?
Do your best at everything and make a real effort to build a positive relationship with everyone, because you never know when they might feature again later on in your life. People that you work with in the early stages of your career might end up playing a more significant role years later, so it’s good to lay those foundations.
What do you consider to be the biggest challenge in business right now?
I would say it’s the macro-economic uncertainty. Businesses are constantly facing challenges born out of things that they can’t control. The last few years have thrown up things like Covid, the cost-of-living crisis and a lot of political upheaval. What this means is that it’s not enough to just have a Plan A and B; you’ve got to have a Plan C, D, E, F and G, too. Every business leader has to come up with a plan for every scenario, even the bad ones that you don’t want to happen.
What book do you think every business leader should read at least once?
Some business leaders might find it hard to read full books, due to time pressures. I try to focus on articles, but sometimes I’ll revisit certain ones. Michael Porter’s What is Strategy? in the Harvard Business Review is something I’ll often go back to. It was written in the 1980s, but a lot of the lessons are still highly relevant today.
Was your first job?
I worked as a waitress while I was still at school. It was exceptionally hard work. It was a really good lesson in paying attention to others, which I took away with me.
What was your worst job?
I don’t think I’ve had any bad jobs. I think all jobs have pros and cons. I just think you need to focus on what you can learn from bad experiences, rather than necessarily dwelling on them.
What’s the best piece of business advice you have received?
If it was easy, someone else would be doing it.
What excites you most about your current role?
I enjoy being able to help customers make a positive change in their lives and become empowered on their pension journey, so they can have a rewarding and fulfilling retirement.
Finally, what do you do to protect yourself against burnout?
I have three small children and I try to devote all of my time outside of work to them. I think all of them are just exceptional in their own ways. I love playing football with my eldest son. My daughter is really into swimming. Thankfully, my youngest is still small enough to still be into Peppa Pig, so that’s not as tiring! But I just enjoy doing whatever they enjoy doing.