There’s a popular quote I like that says: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” And as I reflect on almost 25 years of working with AX Hotels, I can safely say that the entire journey has been much more than a job to me. It’s been an integral part of my life that has allowed me to form lifelong friendships and has given me a sense of purpose and direction in my career.

My journey with AX Hotels began as a summer job back in 1996, when I was just 18. I joined the Suncrest Hotel as part of their Front Office team. Back then, my German language knowledge was a much sought-after skill due to hotel’s dependence on the German market.

I truly loved my first summer job at the Suncrest, working within a much-loved hotel right on Qawra’s busy seafront and having the opportunity to meet and greet hundreds of happy tourists visiting Malta. In fact, I loved that job so much that, as that summer came to an end, I took the decision to officially pursue a career in the tourism industry and enrolled in a further education course in tourism studies. Without ever planning it to be, the Suncrest was the beginning of my career in tourism.

Not only did AX Hotels provide me with a steady job throughout my studies, but they even offered to sponsor my education. It was a huge honour and a gesture which I am still grateful for to this day. During this time, I was also given the opportunity to work in all the different departments around the Suncrest to gain as much experience as possible. I worked in food and beverage, banqueting, cashiering, front office, and even housekeeping. All in all, this was a unique first-hand foundation course in what it takes to work in a first-class hotel, and I still carry those lessons with me today.

After a brief stint working in other areas of the local tourism sector, I re-joined the Suncrest as a Sales & Marketing executive a couple years after graduating. I received such a warm welcome back from the entire team, that it felt like a true homecoming, and I knew this was where I truly belonged.

I took every opportunity I could to learn from my superiors over the next few years. Each lesson equipped me with greater knowledge, skills, and experience to take on more levels of responsibility within the hotel. Eventually, I was thrilled to be offered the chance to set up and lead the Events department.

My responsibilities continued to grow and evolve as the resort rebranded as the AX Seashells Resort. The resort also expanded to include several new facilities, including the Tal-Kaptan restaurant, the Cheeky Monkey Gastropub, the Luzzu restaurant, among others. As such, I headed up a growing team under the Events department and helped establish new processes and procedures to increase the hotel’s revenue and business. I also completed several more training programmes to take my career to the next level, eventually taking the decision to enrol in a Master’s Degree in Hospitality Management. Here again, the management team and my colleagues were super supportive and continued to provide me with the guidance and room to flourish and become a proud Events Sales Manager.

There’s perhaps no better indicator of how well a company treats its people than when times get tough. During the pandemic, despite travel restrictions cutting off most of the hotel’s revenue for months on end, management continued to support all of us at AX Seashells. With events and functions at an all-time low, I was entrusted to take over the Front Office department where I had the opportunity to actively help the hotel and my colleagues pull through this challenging period.

And despite the industry-wide setbacks at this time, my colleagues and I had great confidence that the AX Hotels spirit would ensure we would emerge stronger. This was confirmed when we heard the surprise announcement that Mr Xuereb and the Group were going to embark on a major and complete makeover of the Seashells hotel. This was a huge boost to the morale of the entire team and was proof that AX Hotels was continuing to move ahead with vision.

As any hospitality professional will tell you, it’s not every day that you get the opportunity to form part of the launch of a new hotel opening. So, I truly consider myself lucky to be part of this once-in-a-lifetime experience. I also secretly hoped that this new hotel project would offer yet another opportunity for change in my career. And not before long, my wish was answered when I was asked to set up and lead the Guest Relations Department, a department which is integral to the overall success of the hotel. It’s a responsibility that I cherish and take extremely seriously.

From my first summer job through to the new challenges ahead, my career at AX Hotels has given me the rare opportunity to belong to something big, to be part of an established and respected company, and to form lifelong friendships that I treasure. It’s hugely inspiring and rewarding to work for a hotel that continues to push forward in order to remain relevant on every front. On top of the upcoming redevelopment of AX Seashells, I’ve particularly enjoyed being part of the Sustainable Tourism Committee with a vision of leading the Group to future sustainable practices.

I couldn’t recommend working with AX Hotels enough. Whether you’re just joining our family or have been part of the team for a while, I believe that here you’ll have a job for life with countless opportunities to improve your skills, learn more about the industry, and take on new challenges, just as I have.

All you need on this journey is a few time-tested qualities which I’d like to recommend:

  1. Communicate with your management and teams effectively and don’t be afraid to reach out for guidance.
  2. Always be kind and generous to your colleagues and never underestimate the power of teamwork.
  3. Remain determined despite any challenges that may come your way and know that management are there to support you.
  4. Seize any opportunity you get to further your education and improve your skills in what you love to do.

And above all else, I would recommend taking pride in yourself and your job. I believe this is the single most quality that will guide you forward and give you the greatest satisfaction in your career.

Borislava Bayyumi, Head of Recruitment at AX Group

At AX Group, we provide our people with more than just jobs and paycheques. We provide fulfilling careers across a diverse range of positions and industries. Whether it’s in construction, hospitality, healthcare, or within one of our admin teams, we love nothing more than to give our employees the opportunity to reach their full potential, wherever that may lie. That’s why we actively support our people in any way we can throughout their journey with us. We truly believe that when you succeed, we succeed.

While we do our utmost to help you shine and stretch your wings, we can never truly know where your passions lie or how you wish to further you career exactly. To help us better support you, we encourage open dialogue about career development. Our management and HR teams are always happy to sit down with you to listen to your career goals and find ways to help you achieve them.

Do you have an ambition to progress your career but are unsure how to go about it? Here’s how you can help us support your career growth at AX Group.

 

1 – Discuss your career ambitions during your interview process

 We don’t simply hire candidates who are right for the job. We hire candidates who have the potential to go far within our company. That’s why we love to hear about your long-term career ambitions during your initial interview process with us. This will give us a clearer insight into how you could contribute to our company down the road. We also encourage job candidates to ask us about our career development opportunities. We want you to have a solid understanding of how a career with AX Group can help you fulfil your goals and potential.

By understanding how you wish to grow and evolve in your career at the interview stage, we can map out a way forward together, right from the start.

 

2 – Ask for a one-to-one meeting

 Not everyone has a distinct idea of where they want their career to head from the get-go. Sometimes it takes a while to discover a passion or skill that sparks a new interest. So, if you’re already some years into your career with AX Group and suddenly find an urge to progress in a new direction, we invite you to sit down with your manager or a member from HR to discuss your goals.

We believe in investing in our people. This applies doubly to employees who have already shown their worth and dedication to the company. Through your one-to-one meeting we can understand what it is you want to achieve and find practical ways to support you in getting there.

 

3 – Enquire about mentorship and job shadowing opportunities

 One of the great aspects about working at a leading corporation like AX Group is that we have a diverse and multi-talented team who possess skills in all sorts of specialist trades and professions. As a company that actively promotes knowledge sharing among our teams, we encourage employees to reach out and learn from one another. So, if you’re looking to take your career to the next level, there’s no one better to ask for mentorship than the people you already work alongside who are experts in their field.

This also applies to employees wishing to make a lateral move within other AX business units. Perhaps you work in hospitality but have a knack for social media marketing. Or say you’re in construction but have a passion for food and cooking. If you have an interest in a different line of work entirely, we’d be happy to find suitable opportunities for you to shadow the relevant teams or individuals. This will give you a clearer understanding of the skills and knowledge required for the job, how you could potentially fit into the team, and provide you with an indication of whether the role really matches your ultimate career goals.

 

4 – Upskill with the right training

 If you’re really serious about progressing in your career, you may need to upskill with further training and qualifications. To that end we launched the AX Academy, which specialises in the development of our people. By actively supporting our people in their career advancement through training and accreditation, we encourage you to rise through the ranks and take on positions of greater responsibility within the Group.

Over the years, we have seen many junior employees show initiative and approach us about our upskilling programs. In fact, we’re proud to have employees who have worked for the Group for many years. We value potential and will back you all the way to provide you with the opportunities to grow and excel.

 

5 – Check out what job opportunities are available

 We also love to promote from within. That’s why we give all our existing employees the opportunity to apply for any open roles available within the wider Group. We promise to give you a fair interview process, which will also provide you with a platform to explain how and why this particular role is an ideal fit for your career ambitions. On previous occasions, we have shown a willingness to give employees a shot at taking on new roles within the Group. If we feel you possess the right mindset and attitude, we’ll train you up for the position and give you the support you need to take on this new challenge with confidence.

There are countless ways to further your career at AX Group. Just take a look at our many success stories and employee testimonials. All it takes is initiative and a proactive attitude. Remember, we’re always here to help. Schedule in a one-to-one meeting with us and let’s put your career strategy into action today.

Once You’ve Raised the Bar, Candidates Will Respond

Written by Michael Warrington, CEO-AX Group

AX Group is known for its construction and restoration work, its top-quality hotels in Sliema, Qawra and Valletta, and its advanced age facilities and services. Operating all these are the Group’s 1000+ employees, many of whom have been with the company for years.

Central to the Group’s employment strategy is AX Careers, an online portal serving as an in-house recruitment agency, which Group CEO Michael Warrington credits for the increasing calibre of candidates.

“AX Careers provides potential applicants with a clear idea of what we are offering and why, and projects the image of the Group effectively as it acts as a kind of shop window on our core values,” he says. Handling employment intermediation in-house allows the Group to screen candidates more rigorously, with basic checks being conducted before any CV is passed on to management. “We have had people applying to jobs, previously, who maybe should not be applying for those jobs. Typically, recruitment agencies do not go into the nitty-gritty of a candidate’s profile, but by doing so ourselves, we avoid problems later on,” he says, adding that social media profiles and Google search results can say a lot about people.

AX Careers also features a resource centre where key people within the organisation provide clear details on a wide range of topics. “People can see who is involved, they can interpret our integrity and core values.” “These are things that potential candidates typically look for, but rarely find. We wanted to raise the bar for recruitment because once you’ve raised the bar, people applying will need to be confident that they can fit into that organisation.” Mr Warrington says this creates a win for both sides. “It’s a win for those candidates that have potential, and it’s a win for us because the people we employ are a better fit.”

Ensuring a good fit with the organisation’s ethos is important, with around 700 of the AX Group’s employees being foreign, many from countries outside the EU. The organisation ensures that such Third Country National (TCN) candidates are a good fit by partnering with agencies in source markets like Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East. These agencies sometimes have a bad rep on account of unethical recruitment fees charged to applicants, which can be hefty. AX Group avoids these issues by vetting each agency it works with. Mr Warrington says that “before we accept to work with any intermediary, we would have done our homework on that company”.

They go further by making the intermediary recruitment agency sign an agreement with AX prohibiting them from charging commissions to candidates. “If you don’t manage those situations, problems come into play once you have employed them, as many people enter into debt to pay that commission.” “Then,” he continues, “once they are here, a lot of their pay would be spent on repaying that loan, forcing them to live on or close to the poverty line.”. “That makes for stressed and anxious workers. Our team is very much on the alert to avoid these situations,” he says.

Turning to the challenge of integrating such a large multicultural contingent of employees, Mr Warrington points to the in-house academy set up by the Group. Noting that the Group has been employing non-Maltese for well over 30 years, Mr Warrington says that embracing multiculturalism brings a lot of opportunities, new skills, and different perspectives. The organisation does its best to create a safe and healthy working environment, with sensitivity to things like colour and religion. It pays particular attention to avoid giving offence, by not serving pork for instance. It also has a strict ban on the religious discussion in the workplace, while allowing all employees the freedom to practice their religion freely. “It’s about respecting each others’ ideals and beliefs,” he says. “We set up our academy specifically to help recruits with things like language, but through the training, we also instil our values and principles so that they may approach the job better.”

The Group spends hundreds of thousands of euros on training, but Mr Warrington explains that none of it is wasted. “If our employees are satisfied, they will be happier and as an organisation, we can reap the benefits of the feelings of accomplishment our workers feel.”

He sums up the Group’s approach: “If you help people succeed, they will be loyal to you.”The Group’s objective is to be an employer of choice, and Mr Warrington states with confidence that for many people, AX Group is an employer of choice.

Meanwhile, asked whether the Group intends to launch AX Careers as a standalone business, building on its in-house success, he says there are no such plans for the time being. The Group sees AX Careers as a service helping its growth.

“The Group is built on three pillars,” he explains. “Our assets, our finances, and our people. It is useless having any of those without the others. Assets need to be managed by trustworthy, skilled individuals, and we do our best to invest in our people as we do in our assets – by building up their value for the long-term.”

Creativity in Business: How a creative spirit helped AX Hotels rise above the pandemic

There’s a common misconception that creativity has no place in business leadership. Managers, directors, and business leaders are meant to be strategic, logical, analytical. We’re supposedly meant to leave imagination and blue-sky thinking up to the artists and creatives.

However, I have often found throughout my career that the best business decisions arise when lateral thinking collides with strategic planning. From experience, I have seen how bringing creativity into business scenarios has been a sure-fire way to shake things up and kick-start new ideas that would never have occurred to us had we stuck to some predetermined rulebook.

There’s a reason why many companies come and go, but a select few stand the test of time. Those businesses that don’t have the vision to stray from the beaten path are bound to be forgotten because they have nothing new to offer us and they soon cease to remain relevant. We only need to look towards the leading lights in the business world to see how creativity has inspired products and services that wow us. It only takes one visionary leader to introduce us to new possibilities and then suddenly, just a few years down the line, we can hardly imagine life without those once “crazy” ideas.

I feel extremely fortunate to have been mentored in the importance of fostering creativity in the workplace by my father. Always a man with a knack for doing things in his own inimitable way, my father showed me first-hand how creativity inspires, challenges, and helps people find innovative solutions and opportunities out of problems. In fact, alongside Determination and Integrity, Creativity is one of our core values at AX Group. It’s a quality we value highly in all our people, it’s an attribute we continue to seek out in our candidates, and it’s a strength that has ensured our company has continued to move forward and thrive during 40+ years of business.

As such, I’ve always endeavoured to keep creativity at the forefront of all my business decisions. And during a year in which we faced a flurry of unprecedented challenges created by the pandemic, I truly believe that it was the AX Hotels team’s ingenuity for coming up with out-of-the-box solutions that ensured our hotels and restaurants were able to, not only survive, but evolve and grow.

From the start of the pandemic, we decided to not allow ourselves to take a reactive stance to unfold events. We strove to rise above the situation and be proactive in all our decision making. That’s why AX Hotels was quick to implement a range of versatile F&B strategies that allowed us to continue serving our patrons in a variety of ways. If our diners couldn’t come to us, then we made sure we would deliver to them. Each of our main restaurants – including TemptAsian, Cheeky Monkey, and Luzzu – began operating a delivery service in collaboration with our fantastic AX Events team.

We also wanted to innovate on your run-of-the-mill food delivery experience. That’s why we re-instated our Cruise Your Flavours service, giving customers the opportunity to enjoy exclusive gourmet dining experiences prepared by our Michelin-starred kitchen brigade at Under Grain, served straight on their private yachts.

What’s more, Under Grain began creating luxuriously themed dine-at-home experiences to coincide with major holidays, including Christmas, Easter, and Mother’s Day. Each multi-course menu was designed from scratch by executive chef Victor Borg, meaning no two-holiday dining experiences were ever alike. Customers could tailor the menu to their preferences and have it delivered directly to their homes. This gourmet service proved to be a great success and showed us that people were still looking for exclusive experiences to enjoy with their loved ones in spite of everything that was going on.

Needless to say, with travel and tourism thrown into disarray, our hotel teams were experiencing a considerable amount of downtime. However, we didn’t let idleness slow us down. Where others would be lying low and pulling back, we used this “idle time” productively. We pressed ahead with identifying opportunities and innovative business solutions that would keep us ahead of the competition for when Malta would eventually re-open.

Our pandemic year has in fact been momentously busy, and we’ve even achieved a number of significant milestones. During these past fifteen months, we were awarded our first Michelin star for Under Grain and retained this highest of culinary honours for a second year running. We set up a hotel management proposition to assist struggling hotel businesses and set them on a path for re-invention and growth. We also put in motion several highly complex projects, including acquiring plans to begin the development of the Verdala Boutique Hotel in Rabat, as well as a ground-up redevelopment/rethink of our Qawra properties, Sunny Coast and Seashells at Suncrest Resort.

As if all this weren’t enough for one team to handle in the face of a crisis, we also developed a string of fantastic new F&B concepts, many of which are already in the pipeline. We simply can’t wait to launch them into the world. The latest addition to our F&B family was an off-shoot of our popular Cheeky Monkey franchise. The Cheeky Monkey Creperie launched last month in Valletta, just in time for Malta’s much-anticipated restaurant reopening. It’s been hugely rewarding to see the Creperie concept come together at such a rapid pace, and it has been even more satisfying to see people wandering around Valletta, enjoying the great selection of unique bakes and shakes our team has come up with.

All this work would not have been possible had we stuck to the script. Given the situation, we could have easily shut up shop and put our staff on furlough. Instead, we found creative solutions to keep our teams actively engaged with their jobs, empowering them to endorse and own their own projects. Key to this success was also our willingness to be flexible in how our teams worked. We made use of every communication channel available to address all our business needs, whether our staff were working from home, the office, the hotel lobby, or our restaurants. It has proven to be a hugely effective strategy and one we intend to develop further and keep in place across our businesses going forward.

There’s always an element of uncertainty when you’re throwing creative decisions into the mix. It’s part of the process. After all, you’re going out on a limb, forging a new path, attempting to do something that hasn’t been done before. It can be frightening, but it can also be tremendously thrilling. Projects may not pan out as you’d hoped, but I’ll tell you something. You’ll always learn more in trying and failing, than if you never tried at all.

So, to those who feel even an inkling of an entrepreneurial spirit-stirring inside them, I say be bold, be creative, go where there is no path, and leave a trail for others to follow in your footsteps. Good luck!

Diversity and Inclusion at AX Group

My name is Simbarashe Mapfumo. I am 27 years old and I come from Zimbabwe. I arrived in Malta in December 2018 after living in Cape Town for five years, where I also worked in hospitality.

I fled my beloved Zimbabwe due to the unstable political situation. I miss my country and my family deeply, but unfortunately going back is not an option. I settled in South Africa and when my work permit expired, I came to Malta. I now eagerly await my clearance for asylum from the Refugee Commission.

I actually studied computer engineering but I fell in love with the hospitality industry from the time of my very first job in a restaurant. Since then, I never looked back! Something about giving a great service and making a customer happy is very rewarding for me. I have worked in restaurants, cafes and hotels doing different service jobs, from waitressing to being a front desk agent. In all instances, knowing I am the reason for making customers happy at the moment, is most satisfying.

I’m always asked the same question: ‘Why Malta? So far away from home and without a family network to support me?’ Well, from my extensive research, Malta seemed to be a homely place with a strong sense of community, where people are friendly and English widely spoken.

And indeed, not only have I not been disappointed, but Malta has also surpassed all my expectations in every way imaginable! Malta has become my home away from home. The Maltese society has redefined my notion of family. I have found true friends, supportive colleagues and warm neighbours. I have since changed the way I view the world while still nurturing my sense of self-identity. And my hope for humanity has been revitalised through the numerous positive experiences I have had since my arrival.

I have been fortunate enough to be employed as a front desk agent at AX The Palace since January 2019. Fortunate because I have been given the chance to be the best I can be, by playing with the best the local industry has to offer, surrounded by a winning team determined to deliver service excellence with creativity, determination and integrity.

Being part of AX Hotels has exposed me to unlimited possibilities for my career growth. Professional mentoring and guidance from management has brought out my best skills and capabilities. Ongoing training has helped me bring out my talents and I’m mastering the mindset required for giving a service expected from a five-star hotel.

My aspiration is now to eventually hold a management position within my field of expertise. I would then pass on the leadership values I have learnt and put them to good use, ultimately always to the service of guests and customers.

I’m currently being trained as a night manager. This is a big step for me, and one which I’m really excited about. It is an opportunity I am extremely grateful for and I’m eager to prove myself worthy of this responsibility. Once again, I know it will be one step towards my long-term goals and I look forward to any opportunity for exposure in other areas of hospitality in this five-star establishment.

I love my job and my workplace and every day I go to work safely in the knowledge that I am accepted, in an ambience of diversity and mutual respect of different cultures.

I have Learned from Experience to Never Give Up

It’s safe to say that 2021 is not turning out to be the year we had hoped for. After a tumultuous 2020, we were all determined to make this year a success. We had plans in place, ideas to improve our hospitality offerings, a new restaurant and menu concepts to launch, exciting marketing strategies to go … the works. We were ready to re-open our doors with open arms and treat our guests to even more unforgettable experiences in true AX Hotels fashion.

However, despite definite strides forward, the COVID-19 situation continues to play havoc with our industry. It seems that we’ll need to hold onto our plans for a brighter tomorrow, for a little while longer at least.

This entire experience can feel very disheartening. Believe me, I know. I’ve worked my entire professional life in the industry. It’s an industry I am extremely passionate about, an industry I’ve invested years in trying to improve and move forward for the benefit of this country I love so dearly. Our tourism sector remains the lifeblood of Malta and people from all over the world have come to know and love our little island for our big hearts and warm hospitality. It pains me to see this industry I care so much about grounded to a halt.

But I refuse to give up.

In our current situation, it certainly feels as if life is a boxing match. We are in a fight with this pandemic and the match is far from over. However, as every champion boxer knows, you only become stronger when you fall down and learn to pick yourself up again, round after round, no matter how many times it takes.

At this moment in time, I know there are parents juggling home-schooling, work meetings, and countless other work and life situations in between. I admire our front of house staff who continue to rise to the occasion to make sure our guests are still receiving first-class service; our maintenance teams who are keeping our properties in ship-shape condition; as well as our kitchen and catering teams who are working around the clock to deliver amazing dine-at-home experiences for our customers.

At AX Hotels, we have weathered good times and bad, ups and downs, and everything in between before. I have learned from experience to never give up. With hard work, determination, and vision we can face any challenges that come our way.

Claire Zammit Xuereb

Group Director AX Hotels

AX Group’s 2020 Annual Report

AX Group’s 2020 annual report is now available online. The publication contains the Group’s financial statements along with overviews of its core activities across the key sectors it operates in, namely constructiondevelopmenthealthcare, and hospitality. In the face of a public health emergency and unprecedented operating conditions, AX Group has continued to respond to market conditions to deliver for its clients, people, and stockholders. The AX management team has implemented new strategic approaches to optimise its operations in light of the evolving challenges. This publication gives information on the company’s progress and the various initiatives it is taking to meet the challenges of the future with foresight and optimism.

“I am proud to say that all through the challenges we faced during 2020, the management and staff of the group were exceptional in their commitment and determination to prevail. With the support of the Xuereb family, the AX Group board, and our management and staff, I am confident that we will come through this,” says Mr Michael Warrington, CEO of AX Group.

 

Download the AX Group 2020 Annual Report here.

Improving our Mobility with a Monorail System

Written by Mr. Angelo Xuereb, Chairman AX Group

I am very pleased that the President of Malta is strongly supporting the idea to introduce a Monorail system to eliminate traffic congestion and ever-increasing emissions in Malta.

I have been promoting the concept of introducing a Monorail system since 1991. At the time, I already considered the traffic problem acute. Now, 30 years later, the problem is becoming more and more severe. Admittedly, significant strides are continuously being made to improve our road network. However, if vehicles continue to increase, we will have no other option but to create more flyovers, traffic junctions, and widening of roads, all to the detriment of our environment and our health.

While I welcome the Government’s call for a study into the introduction of a Monorail, Metro system, it has been dragging on for far too long.

The government would greatly benefit by opening up the discussion to public consultation. I am not against a  plan being drawn up by foreign experts, but from my experience, local experts and stakeholders are pricier to the particularities of the problems we face.

Recently, my friend engineer Konrad Xuereb has also been promoting the idea of introducing a Metro system.  The least that the Government or its’ consultants can do, is approach us, listen to our views and concerns, then continue with their in-depth studies.  These studies will reveal if it is better to opt for a Monorail or Metro system.  Most importantly is that we implement a modern, mass transportation system to improve our mobility across the country.

Since my first proposal of 1991, I have continued to extend and improve upon the system over the years. I have published these updated proposals in 1996, 2001, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017.  Naturally, the more in-depth the studies conducted, the more refined a concept we can come up with to determine the system, routes, and location of the stations, that would be the least damaging and most cost-effective. This study would also include the best way to split the project into phases.

For clearer context, many consider a Monorail as a Tram travelling on an elevated structure.  The meaning of ‘mono’ is ‘single’. Therefore, a single rail system can either be on an elevated structure or a single rail (single continuous concrete beams) that passes through a tunnel.

My proposal is to have a system that makes use of both elevated and tunnel rails.  The gradient of the rail should not exceed 10 degrees, which will allow the underground tunnel to pass beneath urban areas and hills, while elevated rails will be erected in rural areas.

For many reasons, the stations and interchange stations, should not be located in the urban core, but in the periphery of the urban areas, so as to provide an integrated public transportation system. It is impossible to have a station in the centre of each of our towns and villages, considering the heritage, space, and incompatible structures. For better efficiency, these stations will still need to integrate Electric Buses, which can be referred to as ‘circular buses’, that make a route around urban areas and transport commuters directly to the nearest station.

It is imperative that there be frequent bus stops, to encourage commuters to walk to their nearest bus stop, for not more than 10 minutes, rather than use their personal car.

The attached Monorail system proposed plan is feasible and has more advantages than a complete underground Metro system.

 

It will also offer a pleasant route to view our rural areas when passing over on elevated routes.   Furthermore, elevated routes are much cheaper to construct than underground and make it more possible to avoid disturbing underground freshwater springs and galleries, in rural areas.

It may take over a 10-year period to complete the entire system from the final approval of the master plan. Therefore, it is a must that the project is developed in phases.  The first phase should target the most congested urban areas around the inner and outer harbour areas.  When towns and cities like Valletta, Cottonera, Marsa, Hamrun, Msida, Sliema, and Gzira areas were developed, these were never designed for car parking and in fact, provide minimal or no private garages. To make matters worse, these areas feature high population density and narrow streets.

Once this initial stage is implemented, it will be easier to carry out extensions to the grid over the subsequent phases. The second priority is to extend to the Airport, Paceville, St. Paul’s Bay, and Marsascala areas. Over time, the Government will decide on the priorities that extend to Cirkewwa.

It is of utmost importance that when a master plan is proposed, it has to be approved by all political parties in Parliament. This is a long-term project that cannot be halted after a new party is elected to Government.

Government should seriously take up the introduction of this modern and environmentally friendly integrated public transportation system with urgency. Time is crucial considering our ever-increasing traffic and environmental issues.

 

Finding the Right Career Path

Written by Zsofia Antal, Senior Recruitment Specialist AX Group

Dear Knowledge Centre Visitor,

What knowledge can I share with you as a recruiter? This is what I asked myself when I started to work on this article.

First, I was thinking of writing about job interview preparation then I quickly realized there is plenty of online material about this topic and I didn’t want to join the line. Then it came to my mind that during my recruitment career I met so many people who were still looking for the right career path and tried to `squeeze` themselves into a job that was not theirs. I cannot blame them nowadays when there are so many opportunities, it is hard to decide, and one can get lost quickly. Thinking about this I decided to share my own story with you. How I found the career I love – hoping that it will encourage you to turn to us, recruiters.

I grew up in the countryside of Hungary, in a small village. I enjoyed every minute of it but let`s be honest it is not the most open-minded environment for a curious teenager. I was always a good student and as firm believers in conventional education ideas, my family and teachers were expecting me to become either a medical doctor or a lawyer. Like most of us at the age of 17, I was pretty much undecided and easily influenced about my career choice, therefore I was doing my best to meet these expectations.

In the last year of high school, we went on a school trip to Italy – it was the first time I have ever travelled by plane. I immediately fell in love with travelling and aviation, exploring unknown places, meeting different cultures, languages and at the last minute I changed my mind and despite everyone`s expectations, I went for tourism studies. After a gap year that I spent in Italy, I continued my studies in international economics with the purpose to understand the world around us better. The following few years, spent in university, were filled with learning about successfully operating businesses, theories of economics, rational consumers…but somehow all seemed to be so artificial and far from reality.

At one point, I realized that everything happening around us is related to the human factor.  Individuals who create our society, small businesses and large enterprises, NGOs, governments. Individuals who come up with ground-breaking ideas and innovations. I found out that I am more interested in people than in numbers but even after those years in higher education, I was still unsure about what I wanted to pursue as a career. I was out of university and I was on the lookout for my first full-time job…it was frightening.

I got my first recruitment position right after graduation, at an airline, totally by coincidence. I applied for a different role; I have not even thought about becoming a recruiter. I was lucky enough to come across recruiters who were open-minded enough and quickly realized that I could be the right fit for another role. Finally, everything made sense and I immediately felt that I found my place in the right environment. They were the ones who kicked off my recruitment career and helped me to find the job which I love deeply and suit me. What they have seen in me? I am still not fully aware, it is hard to be your judge, but most probably it was my people’s personality and passion for travelling that made them choose me.

Since then many things changed around me, life brought me to Malta, I got this amazing opportunity to join AX Group as a Senior Recruitment Specialist and all through the years, I have kept this passion with me.

My personal story somehow also determined my mindset as a recruiter. I believe that it is the personality and passion that makes the difference and it is the people within the organization who determine if any business will succeed or fail.

Knowledge can be thought, skills can be trained but personality, determination, and passion are trades that are hard to teach. As a recruiter at AX Group,  I try to follow this philosophy every day in my work and I wish one day I could be `That Recruiter` for someone who is still looking for the right path in the labyrinth of thousand opportunities.

Are you still undecided about what career to pursue or what environment do you fit in? Let`s connect, let`s talk and let`s find it out together – this is the duty of a recruiter!

With love,

Zsofia

The Evolving Role of the Corporate Lawyer

Written by Dr. David Wain, Chief Legal Officer AX Group 

A corporate legal office (CLO) can be generally described as the department within a commercial organisation which is vested with the responsibility of overseeing every legal aspect of the business. In the past, this role was generally incorporated within the ‘administrative’ function of an organisation, with specific legal services being farmed out in a reactionary manner. Today, the legal function within the organisation plays a far more critical role than it did in the past, given the greater scrutiny of the business overall and the continuous increase in oversight regulation.

From the perspective of the legal professional eyeing a career as a corporate lawyer, it presents challenges and opportunities for professional growth not normally faced by legal professionals regularly operating within law firms or by practitioners with an array of different clients – and it makes for a very interesting job!

IS A CORPORATE LEGAL OFFICE NECESSARY, OR EVEN DESIRABLE?

Both the local and the global business climates are changing rapidly, and an organisation has to demonstrate the required nimbleness to change strategy as required in order to survive and flourish. The inherent risks triggered by this necessary approach are both reputational and financial nature and are further exacerbated by the growing number of laws, regulations, data security considerations and an array of other matters.

Generally, given the greater scrutiny over business overall and the incessant increase in oversight regulation, one could argue that a corporate legal function is required notwithstanding the size of the business. Due to financial constraints, not all organisations will find an internal employed legal office viable. However, irrespective of whether the resources of an organisation command a ‘full time’ or ‘part-time’ function, it is key, in the context of the developing business reality we are living to be proactive rather than reactive. This has led to an increasing number of local corporations investing directly in legal talent. There is an increasing awareness of the fact that while external counsel may be extremely adept at fixing something once it has already happened, disentangling and solving a problem is generally much tougher and riskier than preventing one.

Enterprise risk management is an increasingly crucial part of the CLO’s role. The CLO must be aware of the potential risks facing the company and make sure appropriate procedures are in place to prevent these risks from arising and to address them in the event they do arise. The immediate and widespread availability of information (and misinformation) in today’s ‘Internet Age’ has increased the velocity with which a company can suffer material reputational and financial harm.

One of the most recent issues to capture the public’s imagination landing on CLO’s lap was the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which entered into force in May of last year. For AX Group, which employs in excess of 1,000 people and comprises around 35 companies, the task towards ensuring compliance was complex and stimulating, with our Legal Office leading the process from the advisory stage all the way through to implementation.

The project started off with an analysis of the relevant legal provisions, following which an analysis of such provisions in the context of the extant procedures within the AX Group was conducted. Following the analysis, Legal Office offered recommendations for compliance, and finally project-managed the implementation of a framework meant to facilitate such compliance.

FROM LEGAL TECHNICIAN TO CORPORATE ADVISOR AND MANAGER

The creation of an internal legal function within an organisation opens up further the possibilities of obtaining value, as it departs from the idea of a lawyer being a ‘legal technician’ to one where he or she is considered as an adviser, who will advise the business when changes are made to the laws and proactively providing legal solutions to business quandaries which increases value. This is besides the more traditional ‘advocacy’ role which was traditionally carried out by external counsel.

Therefore, the legal professional heading a corporate legal office, the Chief Legal Officer or General Counsel (depending on the organisation) should be a strategic business partner on the senior executive team. This requires the development of a set of skills that a legal professional is not necessarily trained for. It will be difficult, if not impossible, for a corporate lawyer to recognise and assess risks to the company and its business if they are not adequately informed about the company’s business, strategies, etc, and do not have a good understanding of the markets within which the organisation operates.

Furthermore, business acumen is critical. The CLO is often expected to wear many hats – that of Company Secretary, Chief Compliance Officer, Chief Privacy Officer, Chief Corporate Adviser, just to name a few. Therefore the robust marriage between legal knowledge and business understanding is crucial to a CLO’s skills set. To acquire credibility in his or her organisation, the corporate lawyer must understand the business, know his or her industry, and be able to provide strategic alternatives and ideas on both legal issues, as well as business issues affected by material legal considerations. Raising awareness and sensitising senior management to legal risks in a fast-paced business environment requires the CLO to be trusted and recognised as a leader within the organisation, being patient and diplomatic, whilst persistent and unwavering whenever required.