Norman Aquilina

The world’s fast approaching the second anniversary of the pandemic – a situation which, although far from ideal, goes to show humanity’s resilience, endurance, and sheer strength.

That is not to say, however, that business leaders have grown immune to the uncertainties this situation has brought on.

If there’s one thing COVID-19 taught us, it’s that we can never be too prepared. Back in 2019 no one would have guessed a virus would put a cap on our everyday habits – so what’s stopping something similar from going down next year?

It is in light of this reality that Farsons Group CEO Norman Aquilina describes 2021 as an “undoubtedly trying year.”

“The overriding factor has clearly been the continued inability to fully socialise during events and occasions which remained restricted throughout most of the year,” he tells MaltaCEOs.mt.

It’s not just the business side of things that such restrictions have impacted, however.

“On an even more personal basis, as a keen marathoner and triathlete, the cancellation of various races, locally and overseas, something I have actively pursued over the past years, has also been a significantly overriding factor which did dampen the year for me,” Norman notes.

“Even if, and more importantly, I still broadly maintained my lifestyle with ongoing outdoor activities and exercising regularly throughout the year. So, on balance, even if 2021 was a rollercoaster year, I did reasonably manage to maintain the lifestyle and outdoor activities I enjoy most,” he continues.

Looking to the future, Norman’s adamant about not being caught off guard in 2022 – that’s why, when questioned about what expectations he has for business this coming year, he said, “further unpredictability.”

“Indeed, the only constant we all experienced during 2021 was unpredictability, which I believe will continue to spill-over into 2022, given the still somewhat cloudy outlook,” he says.

As challenging as 2021 might have been, Norman highlights that it taught him two very important lessons – to be as mentally prepared as possible, and to expect the unexpected.

Given his outlook for 2022, both lessons seem like they might come into good use…

“Even if the unexpected is challenging and highly unwelcoming, and irrespective if it’s related to your personal or work life, we always need to adopt a mindset that any challenge in life is there to be overcome, and not overlooked,” Norman reflects.

But instead of waiting for 2022’s challenges to come round, the Farsons CEO is now adamant about making the most of the festive season.

“For me, Christmas is predominantly about family gatherings. Time to sit back, slow down, and enjoy some good quality time with the family along with meeting up with close friends,” Norman says, looking forward to the next couple of weeks.

“Of course, there is the traditional exchanging of gifts, and I am in no way saying that one excludes the other, but I am more into enjoying good quality time with family and friends. I give far greater value to good, lasting memories than to the temporary joys of material objects,” he explains.

Before parting ways with Norman, we couldn’t help but ask what New Year’s resolutions he’s planning on taking on in 2022. This is what he had to say:

“Resolutions are very much about setting goals, and though the process of reflection and setting goals is by its very nature an empowering exercise, for me this is something I do when and as needed, which means any time during the year, and certainly do not need to wait for the end of year. So more than thinking in terms of New Year’s resolutions, my day-to-day philosophy is to learn from the past, reflect on the present and plan for the future.”

This interview forms part of a series by MaltaCEOs.mt that catches up with the country’s business leaders to get a glimpse of how they’ll be celebrating this holiday season.

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