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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MBN UK September 2018 Meeting

Our next MBN UK Members’ Meeting takes place on Tuesday 25 September 2018, between 6.30pm – 8.30pm at Malta House, Malta High Commission, 36-38 Piccadilly, London W1J 0LE.

We are delighted to have joining us as a guest speaker Armando Raish from Biotecture, who will be talking about living walls and sustainability. (  Biotecture is a designer and supplier of hydroponic, modular living wall systems, an innovative, UK based company, managing projects across the country, and working with partners in Scandinavia, mainland Europe, North America and the Middle East. Their vision is to transform urban architecture for the well-being of people and planet through innovative use of vertical greening. They work on principles of collaboration, integrity and excellence, believing that their shared expertise will bring the best results.

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Please register online to attend – only registered attendees will be allowed into Malta House. Late registrations may not be allowed entry. Guests must either be invited or accompanied by a named MBN member. If you wish to attend but do not know any MBN members, kindly contact us at

Please note you will also need to carry a photo ID for security purposes.

MBNUK Discusses BlockChain

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Our Speaker for the June MBN UK Members’ Meeting on Tuesday 26 June 2018, is Liliana Reasor, MBN member and a FinTech / Blockchain entrepreneur, venture capitalist and ex-investment banker.

Liliana Reasor was recently on a speaker panel in New York discussing blockchain and new technologies. She will give us her insights on block-chain technology, its usage and application across industries, especially in the light of Malta’s digital strategy and our members interest in this new technology.

With 20+ years of experience in the FinTech and Finance industries, Liliana is now the the founder and CEO of SupraFin, the first global vetted token platform on the blockchain ( She is heavily involved in the FinTech / Blockchain startup ecosystem in Europe and is considered a FinTech / Blockchain thought leader. She is a regular FinTech / Blockchain speaker, panellist, investment judge and working group member at top global FinTech / Blockchain and finance events. She was selected as one of the Top 100 Global FinTech Women Influencers and Leaders in 2015, 2016 and 2017 by Innovate Finance. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, she worked in the FinTech and investment banking industries (M&A, trading, capital markets, and corporate lending) at JP Morgan, Bank of America, Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley, and Moody’s Analytics in the US and UK. Liliana has a M.S. in Computational Finance from Carnegie Mellon and an MBA from UCLA.

Please register online to attend – only registered attendees will be allowed into Malta House.

Guests must either be invited or accompanied by a named MBN member. If you wish to attend but do not know any MBN members, kindly contact us at

Please note you will also need to carry a photo ID for security purposes.

MBNUK April Meeting: Discussing Transport and Master Planning Projects with Kirsten Galea

The next MBN UK Members’ Meeting takes place on Tuesday 24 April 2018, between 6.30pm – 8.30 at Malta House, Malta High Commission, 36-38 Piccadilly, London W1J 0LE.

Our guest speaker is Ms Kirsten Galea who will give a brief overview of Weston Williamson+Partner (WW+P)’s portfolio of transport projects from the last 30 years’ experience – including a number of flagship stations such as the Jubilee Line Extension at London Bridge and Crossrail Paddington Station. These and other projects have acted as catalysts for regeneration, supporting new homes, leisure, commercial and cultural quarters.

WW+P have a parallel portfolio of projects that compliments and works hand in hand with their transport work. A master planning portfolio beyond urban planning projects is emerging with skill sets around the technical challenges of delivering new development on and around railways. These are predominantly TOD (Transport Oriented Development) projects that grapple with land use change, implications for established settlements and developing architectural typologies, which aim to address land use intensification and flexible development plot accommodation.

In her presentation Kirsten will also introduce WW+P’s most recent innovative project, an in-house parametric tool for master planning that will help WW+P’s master planners to quickly test options and instantly obtain data such as plot ratio, GEA, GIA, FAR, units per hectare, etc, which manually is usually extremely time consuming. This tool may be specifically tailored to our client’s requirements and allows WW+P utmost flexibility of going back and forth in the workflow.

All images used are courtesy of Weston Williamson+Partners.

Kirsten Galea

Kirsten studied architecture and civil engineering at the university of Malta and today is a Senior Associate at Weston Williamson+Partner (WW+P). She has been involved in the design stages of a variety of complex transport projects, including detail design and coordination at construction stage. Currently part of the London studio, she has also worked for WW+P in Kuala Lumpur, Sydney and Melbourne. Kirsten is a co-founder of Women@WestonWilliamson, board member of Women in Transport and member of NAWIC, pushing the envelope for women in Architecture, Construction and the Transport Industry. In 2016 she also made it into the RIBA Journal Rising Stars shortlist.