Business leaders to discuss the importance of ‘intellectual diversity’ in the boardroom

Malta Business Network event to focus on boardrooms with a mix of talents, backgrounds. 

Business leaders will discuss their experiences on what makes an effective board and the importance of weaving together a wide mix of academic and personal backgrounds, at an upcoming business networking event.  

From avoiding the risk of “groupthink” to adapting to emerging tech realities, the panel will discuss the importance of intellectual diversity in the boardroom, and how diversity means more than introducing gender, ethnicity and disability quotas. 

The event, entitled “Reimagining Board Composition: Diversifying for Strategy, Trends, and Inclusive Governance” is part of the Malta Business Network’s monthly discussion series.  

It will be held at OKA’s at The Villa in Balluta on Monday, September 18, at 6pm, and will be moderated by Fabianne Ruggier, a director in the advisory service line of the firm RSM Malta.  

“The main argument in favour of a diverse board is the wide range of perspectives that each individual would bring to the boardroom table. A diverse board better understands its customer base, the regulatory and business landscape, and the new digital reality facing any particular business,” Ruggier said.  

The panel will include three local directors; Vanessa Said Salmone of the VJ Salomone Group, Natalie Briffa Farrugia from the Vassallo Group, and  Nadia Pace who sits on various local company boards.  

Speaking ahead of the event, Ruggier said the panel will be delving into how to bring together a contemporary and relevant board, and how to get the most out of the boardroom.    

All too often, she said, boards of directors are made up of members from the same background – predominantly, legal and finance.  

However, other perspectives should also have a seat at the table.  

From tech expertise to communications and marketing, and human resources and talent management, incorporating these seldom represented perspectives can lead to a far more effective board, which is better equipped to add value to the business.  

Arguing the case for intellectual diversity, Ruggier said that when directors don’t properly understand the market, the regulatory landscape, or the business environment, it can take a long time before the board is able to make important decisions. 

Such delays, however, can be detrimental, especially in highly competitive markets where a company’s longevity depends on its ability to respond and adapt to new realities. 

Having a wide range of perspectives in the room also means that the status quo is constantly challenged and critically reassessed, which guards against the notorious “group think” – a situation where decisions are taken without critical reasoning or the consideration of consequences.  

MBN chairman Joseph Zammit Tabone, said the panel discussion was not simply a chance for business leaders to discuss a critical issue facing business leaders today, but also forms part of the organisation’s ongoing efforts to foster critical debate among business leaders.  

Meet the speakers

Fabianne Ruggier

Fabianne Ruggier, the event moderator, is a director at advisory firm RSM Malta helping clients strategise business growth. 

She works with Boards, C-Suite teams and Start-up Founders to assess business models and bring independent perspectives around organisational structures, processes, people and tech.​

​​Fabianne has over eighteen years of professional experience. Earlier in her career she spear-headed public-private partnerships and worked with a multi-national. She joined RSM to help the Firm become an Employer of Choice. She soon after she transitioned into consulting where she introduced management consulting.​​

​​The practice grew into broader business growth consulting. She heads a multi-disciplinary team that provides advisory services to clients, bringing together business, digital, people and change-management expertise. ​

​She is the Chairperson of the HR and Talent Thematic at the Malta Chamber of Commerce and is the Vice-Chairperson of the Junior Achievement Young Enterprise Malta Foundat​ion.

Natalie Briffa Farrugia

Panellist Natalie Briffa Farrugia is the Chairperson of the Vassallo Group, a company with a strong presence in many sectors.  

Before taking on her role as Chairperson, replacing her father, Nazzareno Vassallo, she was CEO of CareMalta, the largest operator of long-term care services for older persons in Malta.  

In 2018, Natalie was honoured as Malta Business Woman of the Year.  

Natalie is Chair of the Care Homes Operators Business section within the Malta Chamber of Commerce, and a former Chairperson of the European Association of Housing and Services for the Ageing (EAHSA).  

Natalie read a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, holds a Postgraduate Certificate in Education, and Master’s degree in Gerontology and Geriatrics.  

She looks forward to continuing to build on the group’s legacy, thus ensuring a future earmarked by excellence, integrity, respect and innovation.

Nadia Pace

An international business mentor based in Malta, Nadia supports companies, particularly family businesses, to take their next leap towards growth, move beyond the tactical to strategic, whilst mentoring business leaders along the way. 

Having been a CEO herself, leading companies through restructuring whilst occupying Director roles in a myriad of companies, she takes pride in helping businesses carve out the right path to success.

Nadia has over 15 years experience in senior-level positions and ingrained passion for leadership and change management. 

After starting The Pace Company in 2018, Nadia has supported numerous companies set themselves up for growth, whilst providing business advisory services that include: strategic growth plans, corporate governance, business development and internal reorganisation.

Vanessa Said Salomone

Vanessa is an Executive Director at VJ Salomone Pharma Ltd.  Her business expertise includes strategic planning, full P&L responsibilities as well as development and implementation of detailed business plans. 

This is combined with years of experience in the management and operations of a leading pharmaceutical marketing and distribution company in Malta with a turnover of over €25 million and a staff complement of over 50 professional staff.

Register for our upcoming event HERE.

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