Robert Savage, 32

2 Posted by - October 13, 2016 - Tampa Bay 2016, Tampa-St. Petersburg

Vice president of strategy and business development, The Symphony Agency

Robert Savage was so impressive to St. Petersburg’s Symphoni Media (recently rebranded as Symphony Agency), that the company spent a year working to get him to the U.S.

Prior to Symphony, Savage was communications director for Europe’s largest hospitality firm, Beds and Barss. He’s also the author of two books.

At Symphony, Savage is heading up two of the marketing and technology company’s largest clients, American Strategic Insurance and Priatek. He’s also been tasked with rebranding the company to “take it to the international level,” he says. He’s been with the company since February and has helped open a new office and launch a new website.

Savage believes anything is possible with a little determination.

Savage is Symphony’s first international hire. It was just another exciting step for Savage, who remembers taking a risk to leave his small English town of 500 people to move to London, a city with 13 million. He had one suitcase. But he made such a name for himself that he’s been quoted in the Guardian, MSN Travel, the Telegraph and the Wall Street Journal.

In 2012, Savage was recognized for his volunteer efforts in coordinating a new internship program for the British Parliamentary system.

The program attracted a diverse pool of applicants by relying on private funding for transportation and living costs.

As a thank you, Savage ended up getting the opportunity to open the London Stock Exchange.

Coming to America, Savage is sponsored by Symphony with an O-1 Extraordinary Talent Visa. “This time I have three suitcases,” he says.

— Traci McMillan Beach

Q&A

Name: Robert Savage

Age: 32

City of residence: St Petersburg

Twitter handle: robble1

Employer: The Symphony Agency

Title: Vice President of Strategy and Business Development
Birthplace: Sheffield, South Yorkshire, UK

Years on the Gulf Coast: February 2016 to Present

Marital status/children: Single, no children.
Alma mater: Durham University & The National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ)

Best place to network: Soho House

Coolest business experience: Opening the London Stock Exchange at the invitation of the British Government and the Speaker’s Parliamentary Placements Scheme.

The Speaker’s Parliamentary Placements Scheme was my first opportunity to volunteer time and resources for a CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) project, back in London. It was a great opportunity to really get involved and help diversify the British Parliamentary system, from the intern level upwards.

Assisting in coordinating and launching the project, I helped bring together private businesses to fund transport and living costs, for parliamentary interns from all walks of life, and all regions of the UK, as opposed to a privileged few. After a successful trial term in 2012, the 9-month internship project has been extended and renewed every subsequent year, and continues to this day.

As a special thank you for the work I put in on the project, I was invited to open the London Stock Exchange by the Member of Parliament coordinating the scheme within Westminster.    

Messy desk or clean workspace: Super clean and no clutter. Any unnecessary mess drives me bonkers so I try keep it as clear (and paper free) as possible.

Best business lesson ever learned: “People like problem solvers, not neighsayers. When someone adamantly informs you that the task at hand is impossible, nod politely, smile at them and figure out a way to do it anyway.” I received that advice from my Great Grandmother who was a volunteer field nurse in France during the Second World War, so whenever I catch myself getting bogged down in what seems impossible, I remember what she had to deal with, and what she achieved in the face of those odds.

A website that makes your job easier: Feedly.com – Using this great platform I’m able to combine everything cutting edge, into one daily, bite size feed, keeping me abreast of everything industry relevant. 

Community group you’re most involved with: For a long time I’ve been heavily involved with the Yorkshire Air Ambulance. Covering the UK’s largest county, this critical service receives no government funding and is wholly dependent on donations to operate.

Favorite off-hours activity: Re-reading everything published by Haruki Murakami, starting with Kafka on the Shore.

Two people, dead or alive, you’d like to have dinner with: Claude Debussy and Alan Rickman.

What you would be doing if you could pick another career: On the condition that a personal trainer was a part of the package, I’d be a taste tester at my favourite chocolaterie – The Chocolate Line on Simon Stevinplein in Bruges. You won’t find finer salted caramels, anywhere else in the world.

Top item on your bucket list: Skiing in Japan this winter.

Skill you’d like to learn: I’d like to re-learn the trumpet. I let it go as a child and I have always regretted doing so.

Who would play you in a movie about your life: Staying true to my Yorkshire roots (my accent included), Patrick Stewart.

If I had a magic wand I’d: Hand it straight to my four-year-old niece. Paired with her imagination and her penchant for entertaining, I’m confident the results would be nothing short of spectacular.

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