Vassallo Group Chairperson Natalie Briffa Farrugia has urged local businesses to focus on the present and on being ahead of the game, rather than on what used to work in the past.
Her comments came during an interview released on Thursday (today) for Arkati, a publication by diversified company Vassallo Group.
Established in 1946, Vassallo Group is now involved in a wide range of sectors in the local market, including property and construction, furniture and interiors, elderly and disability, catering, hospitality, architecture, and education.
The last two years can only be described as ones filled with “transition” and change for Ms Briffa Farrugia, as at the start of 2022, she took over the role of Chairperson at the group from her father Nazzareno Vassallo.
“I took up this position post-COVID-19 and in a war era,” she explained, before adding that every business needs to “position itself in the global scenario” and be keen to adapt according to what is happening in the world, while also remaining responsible for how the world evolves.
“That is how I see my role and that is how I would like to see the group evolving. Sustainability is key,” Ms Briffa Farrugia said, adding that Vassallo Group is still learning from the challenges of the pandemic and other macroeconomic challenges.
She explained that the situation “can never go back to how it was” in the past. “The most important thing is for each business to take stock of available opportunities today, with how things are evolving right now and what we can do with today’s opportunities,” she affirmed.
“The orientation of ‘now’ in each business perspective is very important. Whatever made sense yesterday might not make sense today. The world is moving forward and you need to continue to adapt and adjust to realities,” Ms Briffa Farrugia continued.
During the past year, Vassallo Group was heavily invested in working on the developments of Campus Hub in Msida and Vassallo Business Park in Naxxar, two projects which Ms Briffa Farrugia described as “highlights” for 2023.
Looking ahead, she notes that digitisation in the care industry and creating different scenarios to “beat the trend of surplus in commercial properties” are also vital.
She highlighted that local businesses need to undergo transformations, especially those operating in industries which are struggling with labour shortages or a lack of quality in the workforce.
Businesses in Malta have felt the brunt of inflation over recent years, as rising prices have prompted employees to request higher salaries. When coupled with the fact that the cost-of-living adjustment for this year stands at a staggering €12.81 per week, employers are faced with the challenge of avoiding a possible wage-price spiral from taking place.
“Success in facing all the changing realities is not just carrying on regardless. If it’s raining you don’t just open another umbrella. You need to re-analyse,” Ms Briffa Farrugia said.
In this respect, she emphasised the importance of having a leadership team that is ready to work together on the way forward, to the point that the boardroom becomes a “forum for discussion”. This is something that Vassallo Group has taken on board, and Ms Briffa Farrugia said that as a result, the boardroom has become “more of a collective discussion now with the involvement of all members”. Following this new approach, Vassallo Group has also introduced an annual meeting with local banks to strengthen the group’s relationship with its stakeholders, a move that has enabled it to be “transparent” with its progress.
In addition to her role at Vassallo Group, she is also Director at Learning Works, Vassallo Group Realty, CareMalta and HILA Limited. 2023 proved to be an especially fruitful year for HILA, as it expanded to Gozo through Dar San Gużepp and also delved into the education sector through the Mediterranean College of Sport (MCS)
Commenting on these two milestones, Ms Briffa Farrugia said she is proud and exciting by both projects, thanking her brother Pio Vassallo, CEO at Vassallo Group and Chairperson at MCS for his work at the latter.
“He is a great influence to a lot of people, including me, and now our business model is actually delivering it nationwide. Our ambition is to train students so they can have a dual career, in sports and business,” she explained.
“Unless you have resilience, discipline, determination and perseverance, you will not survive,” she concluded.
Vassallo Group Chairperson Natalie Briffa Farrugia / Vassallo Group
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