Roman Sledziejowski is currently the vice chairman of Savant Strategies, an international management consulting firm. Roman’s journey began in Poland, but he soon found himself in New York City, where his fascination with investing and finance took root. He started trading stocks on the Warsaw Stock Exchange and turned his $800 savings into an impressive $18,000 in just three years. While his high school peers were focused on parties, Roman was paying attention to stock tickers and working part-time for Salomon Smith Barney, Member of Travelers Group.
Roman’s commitment to both academics and athletics was evident throughout his high school years. He excelled as the captain of the varsity soccer team, playing as a striker, and received the Most Valuable Player (MVP) distinction three years in a row. He also represented his school’s varsity track and field team at various competitions across New York State.
With a stellar academic record, Roman Sledziejowski embarked on his studies at Columbia University, majoring in Economics, while continuing to work full-time at Smith Barney. At the age of 18, he became the youngest licensed stockbroker in the U.S., managing over $40 million before he could legally have a drink at a bar.
Roman’s career took him to prominent institutions such as Prudential Securities and Wachovia Securities, where he honed his investment expertise. However, it was during his time at Wachovia Securities that he ventured into real estate investing, acquiring and redeveloping nearly 400 residential units between 2004 and 2009.
In 2006, Roman founded Innovest Holdings, a financial holding company with subsidiaries specializing in broker-dealer services, online investing, real estate investment, and offshore investment advisory. Despite facing challenges during the 2008 financial crisis, Roman’s resilience allowed him to regain success and achievement in the years that followed.
Driven by the desire to share his knowledge and experience, Roman co-founded Savant Strategies in 2013. The firm provides management consulting services to middle-market companies, focusing on regions such as Latin America, Europe, and South Africa.
Today, we have the privilege of catching up with Roman Sledziejowski to gain insights into his experiences and expertise.
Roman, the current economic environment is characterized by rising inflation, interest rates, and a projected recession. How is this affecting your business at Savant Strategies?
We find ourselves in a unique economic climate that poses challenges to businesses across various industries. The impact of rising housing costs, energy prices, supply chain disruptions, geopolitical tensions, and a strong dollar cannot be underestimated. However, for the management consulting industry as a whole, including Savant Strategies, these circumstances create opportunities for us. The complexity of the current economic climate demands our expertise, as our clients need advice and concrete solutions more than ever during these turbulent times. Thus, the demand for our services remains high.
Remote work and hybrid work environments have gained significant traction in recent years, especially due to the pandemic. What are your thoughts on this trend?
Remote work is undoubtedly an interesting subject, especially considering its dominance in recent times. A study revealed that 87% of people opt for flexible or hybrid work environments when given the chance. Currently, more than 58% of Americans have the ability to work remotely, at least part-time.
While certain industries lend themselves well to remote or hybrid work environments, we’ve observed challenges faced by many clients with such arrangements. In many fields, there is a noticeable drop in productivity and creativity among workers who predominantly work from home. This poses a significant problem that might push companies to revert to office environments or adopt a hybrid model that emphasizes office presence for most of the work time. Collaboration and team-building aspects that are best fostered in traditional office settings are valued by executives like Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon and JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon, who have expressed their preference for in-person work. Even in the tech sector, internal surveys have shown that while 87% of Microsoft employees feel more productive while working from home, 80% of Microsoft’s management believes that employees are less productive.
However, it’s important to acknowledge that certain industries have successfully adapted to remote work, and this shift may be permanent for many jobs. The last few years have demonstrated that remote working can be effective in specific contexts. Ultimately, the optimal approach may vary depending on the nature of the work and the specific needs of the organization.
Leading a business in challenging times can be demanding. What has been the biggest challenge for you during the past months, and how did you overcome it?
We have faced a multitude of challenges, but many of them have been what I like to call “good problems.” The demand for Savant Strategies’ services has been exceptionally high due to the complexities and uncertainties brought about by the pandemic and recent economic trends. As a result, we have had to make tough decisions when selecting which clients we can provide the most value to while also managing new prospective clients. It has been a balancing act to ensure we focus on high-impact projects while maintaining the integrity of our services.
Looking back on your career, what would you consider your greatest accomplishment thus far?
It’s difficult to pinpoint a single greatest accomplishment in my career. I have been fortunate enough to achieve several significant milestones, but I strongly believe that the most substantial accomplishments still lie ahead of me. The drive to pursue further success and make a lasting impact continues to motivate me.
When was the last time you changed your mind about something important?
While I don’t frequently change my mind about important matters, I maintain an open-minded approach. With the right set of facts and a logical argument, it is possible to convince me to alter my thinking on almost any topic. Recently, my team presented an alternative approach to a proposed strategy for a key client. After months of thorough analysis and devising a concrete plan, I was persuaded that their alternative method could achieve similar results with significantly less risk to ongoing operations. It was a valuable reminder of the importance of considering different perspectives and adapting strategies accordingly.
Motivation is crucial in any profession. How do you stay motivated at work?
I find that my motivation thrives on a constant stream of new projects, ideas, and challenges. Without this ongoing stimulation, I tend to lose enthusiasm quickly. To ensure my motivation remains high, I make it a point in my daily routine to allocate time and focus on new endeavors. This allows me to stay engaged with routine tasks, knowing that exciting projects are on the horizon.
Your international background is undoubtedly a unique aspect of your career. How has it influenced your professional journey?
My international background has been instrumental in my success across various fields throughout my career. Extensive exposure to different regions, cultures, and languages has proven to be extremely valuable. In today’s globalized world, nearly every industry and company operates on a global scale. Having lived and worked in various countries has provided me with a nuanced understanding of diverse trends and underlying factors specific to different regions. This global perspective allows me to offer unique insights to our clients and navigate the complexities of international business.