CEOs in Action: Manny Roman of PIMCO on How He Leads

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The University of Chicago may have prepared Emmanuel “Manny” Roman for a career in finance, but his love of learning began at the dinner table with his father in their Paris apartment. “My father was a deep intellectual,” says Manny. “He read voraciously – history, modern literature, philosophy. This was a strong influence on me, and reading became an important part of my life.”

Manny is still a voracious reader, and as CEO of PIMCO (the Newport Beach-based asset management firm with more than $2 trillion in assets under management), his intellectual curiosity and appreciation for diverse perspectives help shape how he leads.

Leadership Style
For example, PIMCO conducts “pre-mortem” analysis when making significant business decisions, undertaking rigorous scenario analysis to work through what could go wrong and how to best maximize good outcomes. Manny intentionally solicits different perspectives, such as asking the most junior person in the room to weigh in, an unusual move in many financial firms.

“For the few big decisions we have to make, we need to be sure we make the right call,” he says.

Manny is a focused and data-driven leader and believes in holding employees accountable through specific and measurable goals and objectives. Even so, he also values more intangible skills that will help the firm best navigate what is a rapidly evolving industry.

“In this business, you get tested every 10-15 years with something you’ve never experienced before,” he says. “So, we don’t only look for talented people with strong technical and analytical skills. We need people who can think broadly about the world and are curious. We expect hard work, focus, attention to detail, and an understanding of what we do and what we don’t. We also seek people who are collegial and can work in teams.”

CEO Transitions
Manny doesn’t like the idea of a CEO for life. He advises aspiring CEOs to:

  • Focus on the strength of your team, finding people that are “better than you.”
  • Set very specific, measurable goals.
  • Know when it’s time to go and do it gracefully.

Purposeful Giving
When we spoke, Manny also emphasized the importance of giving back, especially to the neediest. This is a central tenet of his own values and a longstanding cornerstone of PIMCO’s culture as well. For his part, Manny is, focused on eradicating global hunger — personally and through the PIMCO Foundation. Combating hunger and poverty and improving gender equity are some of the causes important to PIMCO employees. Through the Foundation, employees support organizations such as the Global FoodBanking Network, and Nomi Network. They also provided disaster relief in response to COVID-19, racial equity and justice in the US, Australian
bushfires, Brazil and German flooding, and Hurricane Dorian.

He believes “giving money well” is the right thing to do. And working with these organizations benefits PIMCO as well.

“The opportunity to volunteer and get involved helps us form deeper connections with our community and gives our employees a greater sense of purpose.”

Manny captures the heart of a purposeful CEO who wants to both increase shareholder value and make a meaningful contribution to the community. He has chosen to play an important role in the CEO Leadership Alliance Orange County, which is committed to growing an inclusive talent pool of high-skilled workers for Orange County’s future. It’s CEOs like Manny who make the difference as we grow a thriving economy that uplifts all.