Since she joined V&C Group as Finance Manager, Christabelle Camilleri has worked her way up the ladder. Today, as CEO, she drives the business with prudent determination and a clear vision centred on diversification.
Christabelle Camilleri has always been upfront about her initial reluctance to join her family’s business. Founded in 1992, V&C Contractors was a small, low-key construction company which eventually became a leading name in the sector, yet, the young and enterprising Christabelle was not particularly tempted to jump on the family’s bandwagon in its original form.
It comes as no surprise then, that the CEO considers the moment she changed her mind as the first major milestone in her professional life.
She describes it as “a split-second moment in which I came face-to-face with my destiny, with what I was meant to do for a living.”
Her second landmark moment, once she had joined, was managing to persuade the group’s board to embrace her vision to diversify the business, thus entering markets outside of their commercial comfort zone. From then on, diversification became the beating heart of Christabelle’s overall vision for the firm.
“As we grew, diversification became a no-brainer. It is not just a matter of not putting all one’s financial eggs in one basket. More crucially, when it’s done prudently and smartly, diversification imparts stability and a sense of structure and process to a group on the move like ours,” she smiles.
Since first joining V&C as Finance Manager, Christabelle has worked her way up the ladder, taking on the roles of Group CFO, COO and, most recently, Group CEO. Speaking of her role, she asserts that, in a fast-changing world, it is not enough to know what the client’s needs and preferences are today. It is equally important to know where they will be heading tomorrow, and the day after that.
“To remain on the ball and to peer beyond the horizon, I source as much information as I can, both locally and internationally. I do my best to gather insights and to connect the dots at various levels, to figure out the best way forward for our group’s performance in every market we are in,” she maintains.
Christabelle says that being the CEO of a group of companies with a presence in a range of markets requires her to be “mentally agile, to think at the cutting edge of creativity, and to quickly switch concentration from task to task.” Above all, however, what she enjoys most is seeing an idea come to fruition. “I enjoy driving what might have been an idea that pops to mind at breakfast to its realisation and completion. I just love the adrenalin rush of it all.”
Being a young, female entrepreneur comes with its own set of challenges, yet the CEO is adamant that, “although the ideal of full equality between men and women in business still has to be reached, we have to acknowledge that we women have made great strides forward. I am convinced that we will continue to do so.” Stating her preference to focus on “getting the job done in the best possible way,” Christabelle admits that she doesn’t factor in her gender when approaching any particular initiative or task.
This perspective will certainly serve the new mum in good stead, as she works to find the right balance between her business and personal life following the birth of her first child with husband Jordan. “Valentina has brought a type of joy to our lives that neither of us knew existed. Sometimes, as she looks at the world around her with such intense curiosity, gentleness and helplessness, we are left speechless and in total awe,” Christabelle gushes. “It is truly wonderful to be a mother. How is the CEO-mummy combo coming along? Let’s just say, I’m slowly learning the ropes and loving every second of it.”
Outside of work, the CEO also makes time for her passions – chief among them being an abiding interest in fashion, which she follows avidly. “It fascinates me how trends surprisingly ebb and flow, artistically twist and turn, giving pleasure to the world along the way. Life is so much more enjoyable because of the colour, in every sense, that fashion adds to it,” she smiles
But when it comes to her entrepreneurial journey, were there moments she wanted to quit? Her reply is unequivocal. “Quitting is not in my nature. I learn from mistakes; I tweak plans to improve things and there were even times when I had to rethink ideas and processes from scratch. But quitting is never an option that comes to my mind.”
And as the immediate post-pandemic years continue to throw curveballs at businesses across industries, it is a mantra that has served her well. “Today’s ‘normal’ is unrecognisable compared to pre-2020. The pandemic, climate change, the war in Ukraine, energy prices, global inflation, transportation costs and troubled logistics have had massive impacts on our present and immediate future,” says V&C Group’s CEO, who took it upon herself to deal with this paradigm shift by doing two things simultaneously.
“On the one hand, I had to think on my feet to address the new challenges of the here and now, firefighting new scenarios that popped up almost on a daily basis. On the other, I tried to anticipate what other challenges and opportunities were gathering speed and momentum on the horizon,” she reveals.
In fact, while V&C Group was hit by the pandemic like any other business, the CEO affirms, “we didn’t just twiddle our thumbs and wait for it to blow over. We used the time to take a good look in the mirror as well as peer through the window to get a glimpse of the future. We worked hard, changed things and introduced new processes in order to be ready to sprint once the pandemic subsided. To a very large extent, I am happy to say, the strategy worked.”
Looking ahead, Christabelle’s plans for the business continue to centre on diversification, so as to consolidate and grow what is working and adapt its management structures and processes to back up and drive both.
Finally, reflecting on the opportunities and challenges that await on the horizon, she adds, “at the top of today’s economic and financial agenda are the realities of start-ups, market disruptors, alternatives to traditional banks, ‘money’ (say, a cryptocurrency) which is not tied to a country, and other completely new kids on the block. I embrace all these trends but do so with prudence. I would like to think that I see the opportunities they open up for us as clearly as I see the pitfalls.”
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