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Vistage Malta Chair Julian Azzopardi has cited the importance of remaining focused on the task at hand, amid a number of economic challenges that businesses are facing.

One issue that is on top of many business leaders’ agendas is that of talent retention and attraction.

“During our first Vistage Malta Summit and on analysing the results of the Vistage Malta Confidence Index, we see that both Maltese and foreign CEOs have one thing on top of their minds for the next six to 12 months, and that is people,” Mr Azzopardi told MaltaCEOs.mt. He remarked that heading into 2023, a focus on keeping hold of employees, while also attracting new ones is needed.

“Further emphasis on digitalisation and getting the knack of working with distributed workforces are what follow. An eye on cashflow and supply chain issues, due to talks on the possibility of a recession, are other issues on the lists of CEOs,” he added.

When asked what business leaders can do to avoid feeling overwhelmed amid economic struggles, Mr Azzopardi said that it is best to “stick to what you know best and do it with conviction”.

“If I were to make an analogy to the FIFA World Cup in Qatar that just concluded, we saw that the teams that prevailed under the extreme pressure of both opponents and the environment, were those that kept their focus laser sharp on the task at hand. In a storm, what matters most is ensuring your effort and energy are directed towards what you control in relation to achieving the intended outcome,” he explained.

“So, if I want to steer a ship through a stormy sea, I need to focus on getting the vessel into port and not play around with my mobile phone to see what the latest influencer news is,” Mr Azzopardi added.

He remarked that while a number of businesses look for other opportunities during times of struggle to “lessen the blow”, in order to do so, businesses have to establish whether there are adequate resources available.

For businesses with the “right team in place”, it is “definitely an option to explore” other opportunities, requiring a shift in focus and energies, organisations that depend on a particular individual must consider what dividing one’s attention will cost them. Undesirable outcomes include working longer hours and a decline in quality or quantity of work produced.

While 2023 is set to be a “challenging year”, Vistage Malta see it as one of “expansion”, with a number of new individuals being brought into the fold, and new products and services will also be offered, Mr Azzopardi said.

“We are looking at consolidating in the foreign markets we entered this year, and are seeking to start operations in new foreign territories. We are also launching a suite of accredited Executive Learning programmes and are also in the final stages of looking into offering a unique opportunity for CEOs to join an internationally accredited Vistage Stanford Leadership programme,” he remarked.

Given the macroeconomic challenges in place and the “ambitious objectives” that Vistage Malta have set out to achieve, Mr Azzopardi’s main priority is to ensure the team is “confident and supported”. “We are firm believers that if you take care of your people, the business will take care of itself,” he said.

Mr Azzopardi also said that 2023 presents business leaders with a number of opportunities within the people experience field, having noted a return to investing in people and customer experiences in enterprises’ business models.

“Ensuring the business flywheel of addressing client needs with supplier capabilities, in an efficient manner will be the key to whether customers will come back for more of what you offer. It’s not just about understanding the value proposition of a service bought, but rather it is all about being able to leverage the value proposition to a stage where your customers and employees become your biggest and loudest sales and recruitment ambassadors,” he explained.

As businesses continue to shift towards more digital-oriented operations, they need to be “savvy at rolling out the right technologies for the right purposes”, especially since it plays a vital role in their relations with customers and employees. Mr Azzopardi stated that immersive technologies such as VR and predictive technology like Ai are “useful for the young and fast-paced”.

“However, Europe is an ageing continent, so attention to how technology can be used to facilitate the livelihoods of our parents and grandparents is a great opportunity to be considered,” he said.

Speaking about this festive season and the difference from previous years, Mr Azzopardi said that after “two years of having to celebrate in relative isolation”, people will now try to reconnect with family and friends, whether locally or abroad.

“I believe employers and employees, while appreciating the flexibility of being able to work from home, shared offices, a café, or in a foreign island, all understand the value of being together for the festive season,” he concluded.

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Julian Azzopardi

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