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.

Next Gen: ‘What We Want!’ | Webinar Summary

Webinar Recording & Summary

Today’s decisions will impact all future generations. But do today’s leaders and decision-makers know what we want? Do they care?

Our latest webinar, titled ‘Next Gen: What we want!’ unpacked the reasons behind the disillusionment and fatigue felt by 70% of young people in Malta, opting to live, work or move abroad in the future.


Steven Coleiro , Entrepreneur 

Alexandra Sciberras, Co-Founder and COO, Invent 3D Ltd

Kristina Pace, Student

Jean Gatt, Software Engineer


Jean Gatt opened the webinar by discussing the recent EY Generate Youth Survey, which highlighted that 70% of youths in Malta want to live, work or move abroad. Theorising reasons behind the stat; lack of innovation culture, overdevelopment, environmental neglect, fewer opportunities, and an identity crisis, were all pointed out by the panel. 

Quickly gearing the conversation towards solutions, Gatt opened up the floor once again, inviting the panel to discuss how we can improve Malta’s education system. Steven Coleiro spoke in-depth about subsidising and incentivising teachers as a means of encouraging and prospering better talent. However, in agreement with Alex Sciberras, the focus also needs to be on the individual. Parents and family members should take more of a responsibility for instilling the right core values of respect, hard work, and creativity in children, from an early age. 

Looking to the future, the discussion shifted to new opportunities within innovative industries. 

Coleiro mentioned Malta’s heavy reliance on imports to ensure smooth and continuous supply chains, which have come under recent pressure in moments of international conflict. Suggestions were made to focus on local industries, giving smaller innovative companies a voice rather than outsourcing to foreign talent, as well as moving towards renewable and self-sustaining resources.  

Continuing with this theme, Kristina Pace highlighted the gap between environmental goals set by the government and their level of execution. Better project management and transparency were mentioned to help Malta achieve the sustainability that was promised in a ticking time frame. Increasing awareness and education around the importance of agriculture and the preservation of land for Malta’s future landscape was also a key factor for Coleiro. 

To connect Malta in a better way, quick-fixes to infrastructure were discussed, such as improving bike lanes to meet the current and future demands of electric bikes and scooters. 

As a final thought, it was agreed that a bottom-up approach could pave the way forward. By harnessing young people’s frustrations and transforming them into a voice that gets heard, we will push Malta in a better direction, encouraging young people to stay and become the future entrepreneurs our country needs.  

Cybersecurity and Unlocking the Isolation Economy

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MBN UK Exclusive: February 2018 Meeting at Art Gallery in Mayfair

Having started our year with 2018 drinks at Henry’s in Picadilly and a talk on crypto-currencies and blockchain, February’s MBN UK meeting is another meeting with a difference.

Co-Hosts of the MBN UK February Meeting

Co-Hosts of the MBN UK February Meeting

MBN UK and Malta Tourism Authority co-host this month’s get together, bringing members to the David Gill Art Gallery in Mayfair for an exclusive evening on Tuesday 27 February, 2018.Francis Sultana

Supporting Sponsors Clintons, the award winning boutique law firm for entertainment and the creative arts

Supporting Sponsors Clintons, the award winning boutique law firm for entertainment and the creative arts

Featuring the internationally renowned furniture and interior designer from Malta, Francis Sultana, this is an exclusive opportunity for MBN UK members to meet him and hear him talk about his work. Sultana is based in London with an international client base covering Europe & Russia, USA and Asia.

He is the favoured designer of many of the world’s biggest art patrons, drawn to his use of noble materials, fine craftsmanship and luxurious finishes. His atelier and showroom are based in St James’s in the same building as David Gill Gallery, of which Sultana is also CEO.

Francis, who is from Nadur, Gozo, set up his studio in 2009 to create interiors for many of his major art collector clients. Francis is also the judge of both PAD and Masterpiece and sits on the board for the NSPCC Art Gala. He co-founded the Design Fund for the V&A and now sits on the International Council for the museum. He is also on the board of MICAS, Malta’s new museum project which opens in 2021 and will house Malta’s contemporary art & design collection.

MBN UK and Malta Tourism Authority are proud and delighted to co-host this exclusive event, which is also being supported in sponsorship by Clintons, the award winning boutique law firm for entertainment and the creative arts.

Attendance is strictly by invitation and registration only, and restricted in numbers. You will require a code to register. Preference will be given to fully-subscribed members and invitations to guests are only extended once members have confirmed. Should you wish to attend but have not received an invitation please email


Malta in the Lonely Planet Top Ten Countries to visit in 2018

Lonely Planet has featured Malta as the 6th country in its top 10 countries to visit in 2018:

“The long history of this Mediterranean archipelago is vividly evident. Prehistoric temples crown hills, 17th-century fortifications stalk the coast, and a warren of tunnels – from catacombs to air-raid shelters – dig deep underground. Its riches have been here for centuries, if not millennia, but Malta is experiencing a moment. This tiny nation’s buzz has been building to a crescendo in preparation for Valletta’s stint as European Capital of Culture for 2018. Expect baroque, pop and international film festivals, plus a contemporary art biennial. Not to mention a laid-back lifestyle born out of proximity to warm sea, beaches and more than 300 annual days of sunshine.”