Upon joining APS Bank plc as Chief Executive Officer in 2016, Marcel Cassar pledged his commitment to transforming the bank, while taking it to the next level.
In this series of interviews with Malta’s business leaders, Marcel says “it was a privilege to be offered this mandate by the Board of Directors and I took it on with enthusiasm, confident that I had the ideas and determination to deliver on what I promised.”
Rather than aspire for the position he occupies today, the CEO says he “offered a clear vision and a general design as to how, with over 25 years’ senior experience in management and financial services, I could go about executing it. And the results of these past years speak for themselves.”
Sharing his carefully-curated wish-list of what makes a good leader, which he developed over the years, Marcel says “a good CEO should have lots of vision while at the same time be open to change and the disruption it brings.”
They should be able to inspire and to energise by engaging effectively, communicating well and listening even better. “Good CEOs praise effort and recognise hard work, they empower without micromanaging, they are decisive and deliver what they promise.”
“And above all, they are impactful, lead by example and set the tone and pace – from financial and performance budgets to a healthy work-life balance. Must say that I fail miserably on this last one!” says the CEO.
Since becoming CEO of APS Bank, Marcel says he’s faced one of the biggest crises in his career in the COVID-19 pandemic.
“They say that, on average, a CEO should expect one major crisis event every five years. I thought I was going to buck this ‘rule’ last year, but then COVID-19 came along,” he says, adding that, unlike the 2008 crisis, the pandemic is not a crisis of banks, but of real economies, everywhere, with some sectors more at risk than others.
“Who would have imagined tourist arrivals dropping by 90 per cent, decimating an industry with long-term repercussions? So, the big lesson is that even the best planning and modelling cannot predict worst case scenarios which will happen,” says Marcel.
“A good CEO must be disciplined, rigorous, allergic to complacency and agile in reacting.”
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