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7 Questions on Leadership with Anastasia Savvateeva

Name: Anastasia Savvateeva

Title: Deputy Head of Financial Crime Compliance Continental Europe

Organisation: Fidelity International

Anastasia is an award-winning compliance executive with almost ten years of progressive industry success. She recently received the prestigious 2023 “Rising Star in Compliance” award from Compliance Week, and is a two-time finalist (2021 and 2023) in their “Excellence in Compliance” category.

Culture and Ethics Ambassador, Strategic Business Advisor, Partnerships Creator and Tech & Data Analytics Advocate. Public Speaker, Trainer, Mentor and University Lecturer. Webinar and podcast guest on multiple compliance-related programs. Author of various articles with publications including Compliance Week and inCompliance.

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope Anastasia's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

Many things, to be honest. First, the whole idea of being a leader, because it still implies that you have someone who follows you while you're ahead. I don't really like this concept, I would prefer saying "sparring partner", as even when you're a leader, the people you lead can also teach you something, so it's a two-way street.

Second, leadership is always about people and relationships. And being a leader also means knowing how to be independent and impartial, and not trying to influence (in a negative sense of this word) how people think and act. Leadership is about inspiring people to develop themselves, but also letting them think and decide for themselves.

Finally, it can sometimes be challenging to know what to do and how to support people who are going through difficult situations and circumstances, be that at work or in their everyday private lives. It is not obvious how to find the right words, how to act, what support to offer.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

Not that I've been tracking this on purpose :) But I think my first leadership experience was quite a few years ago now, when I started to give back to my alma mater, University of Paris Dauphine in France, by mentoring students who were willing to get help and advice on different topics, from their studies to their professional lives and careers.

I'm still mentoring students and now also professionals, especially in my field, and I've also had a pleasure to share my passion for the work I'm doing with others via lectures and classes.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

I won't say that I have some secret recipe here: I do get up very early, I try to do some physical activity before starting work. Always coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon. Taking short pauses from time to time. My work day can be often unpredictable when at work, so here I would say it's complete artistic workflow.

When at home, light supper, some personal development tasks and courses, reading a book. No TV.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

Two-in-one lesson: first, to never underestimate the power of observation, and second - the importance of self-awareness. I would quote here Lori Kuhn, co-founder and CEO of Thrive, a human development company - "Leadership is about cultivating your self-awareness, which requires you to consider your presence: how you show up and what you convey both emotionally and energetically. In leadership, awareness of your presence is the most overlooked detail, yet it is invaluable to your leadership success."

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

I'm hesitating between two books:

- Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction by Philip E. Tetlock, Dan Gardner

- Titan by Ron Chernow

The first teaches you how to learn to predict future events and outcomes, and provides useful techniques on how to deal with any issue or problem to solve.

The second one is simply an extremely well-written and inspiring biography of John D. Rockefeller Sr., which allows you to have a glimpse into his life, challenges, failures and successes.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

For any decision you take, get all the information you can, weigh everything, observe, and decide with your own head.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

Some time ago one of my students reached out to me for a piece of advice on something very technical I had no specific knowledge for (for his Master's degree thesis work). Instead of simply dismissing his request for help, I spent two weeks diving into the topic and liaising with my connections all over the world to see who would be able to help and would accept to talk to my student. Everything went well, he got his Master's degree and defended his thesis.

A couple of months later he reached out to me again. This time, he sounded very much ashamed: he was going to start a new job in a big multinational company dealing with art but he came from a small mining city and his parents - both blue-collar workers - couldn't help him with how he should behave himself in a team, do's and dont's, what corporate culture is, and most important - he wanted to know more about art to be able to speak with colleagues without fear. It happens that I'm very keen on art (I inherited this from my grandma), especially what relates to the Italian and French Renaissance. We met twice a week with my student, before he started his job and even some time after: one day per week was dedicated to him visiting the premises of my then employer, observing, talking to people, and me explaining how things worked; another day (usually a Saturday) we took to visit galleries, museums, monuments, me telling him what I knew about different paintings, sculptures, castles, authors.

I believe that a true leader can always recognize and assume his or her weaknesses or lack of experience or knowledge in some areas. In addition, a leader doesn't give up when challenged with difficult situations or questions and doesn't feel ashamed to ask for help. But what's most important - and because leadership is about people - a true leader cares.

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