Tuesday 2 August 2016 9:07 am

City heavyweight Lady Barbara Judge has joined a startup

One of the most well-known women in British business and the outgoing head of the pensions lifeboat is joining a technology startup that wants to disrupt how businesses manage workers.

Lady Barbara Judge, who also chairs the Institute of Directors (IOD), has been named chairman of Hibob, the London-based startup which boasts backing from Saul and Robin Klein's LocalGlobe and the founder of unicorn fintech startup Transferwise. 

Read more: Championing female executives and pensions protection

Hibob, which lets small businesses more easily manage staffing and human resources, has tapped Judge's knowledge of pensions as it focuses on auto-enrollment.

“Small and medium sized businesses are the backbone of our economy,” said Lady Judge.

“Yet the daily pressure they face to remain compliant and retain their staff is huge. Hibob is spearheading some much needed innovation to help companies grapple with this.

I was delighted to meet the founders of Hibob as my tenure at the Pension Protection Fund was coming to a close. We quickly realised we shared the same passion for helping small businesses in general but also more specifically to help them deliver Auto Enrolment in a way that is efficient and engaging. Something that businesses and particularly young people are struggling with.

Hibob landed a huge seed stage round of funding – $7.5m (£5.6m) – in June this year and launched at the same time with 150 businesses on board and ambitious plans to grow that.

“Lady Barbara’s track-record in supporting British small business and the pension industry is second to none," said Hibob co-founder and chief executive Ronni Zhavi.

"She has the perfect blend of top down policy thinking on pensions but also a critical bottom up understanding of British Business, she will be a huge asset to us as we grow our pension and benefit offering.”

Read more: Lady Barbara Judge talks first impressions

Judge is the latest in a string of City grandees to move her focus from big business to include startups.

Former Barclays chair Sir David Walker joined blockchain startup Setl last year, followed by former deputy governor of the Bank of England Rachel Lomax and former Ofcom boss Ed Richards last month.

Rich Ricci, another top ex-banking executive at Barclays, joined fintech startup FreemarketFX as chairman earlier this year while Lord Adair Turner, the former chief of the finance regulator, joined the board of challenger bank OakNorth last year.