Yachting has been a lifelong passion for John Huber. It was not always his profession, however – until, that is, he was appointed Yachting Malta’s new Chairman and acting CEO earlier this year.
“I have been passionate about yachts since I was a child,” John Huber says. “I have always been, in different degrees, involved in yachting, although professionally only as an indirect subsidiary industry, since my main focus was promoting residence in Malta to foreign high-net-worth individuals, as a practitioner in the fields of tax and immigration.”
Acting as an advisor to the Maltese Government on residence programmes under his own practice, John always followed the yachting industry but did not consider himself a stakeholder, a fact that he feels was an advantage once he took his first professional steps into the yachting sector.
“When I was asked whether I could assist with the yachting industry in Malta, it was going through a period when it didn’t have a unified voice and it was simply a number of individuals each acting on their own personal initiative.”
So, to bring the industry players together, John established the Yachting Section within the Malta Chamber in 2007, where he held several executive posts including that of Chairman. “I managed the Section for six years, gaining the trust of the industry members over time because I was not a stakeholder in the industry and therefore not in competition with them.”
The ground-breaking Yachting Section of the Chamber quickly became the industry’s voice – heard by Malta’s political parties, Government, regulators and related entities. But, since it applied solely to members of the Chamber, it still didn’t comprehensively represent the sector. To counter this, in April 2015 the Government and the Royal Malta Yacht Club launched Yachting Malta as a public private partnership and, more recently, John was appointed its Chairman.
“I am honoured to have been given this role, and feel very lucky to have the opportunity to contribute once again to my country in an area that I am passionate about,” smiles John. “I am starting with a restructuring of Yachting Malta, especially in the thought process of what and how we should be doing things. My goal is to give it more of an industry perspective, making Yachting Malta a conduit and a platform incorporating everything to do with yachting. My wish is to make yachting one of the pillars of Maltese industry.”
It is an ambition that John takes seriously. “You only get one life – just one – and you don’t get many chances,” he observes. “I feel lucky to have been given the opportunity to work in an industry that I love. Being Chairman at Yachting Malta puts me at the forefront of decision-making for the island’s yachting sector.”
However, the journey to making yachting a pillar of the Maltese economy is anything but plain-sailing. “One of the biggest challenges I face is time. You have so many plans and things you want to achieve but, ultimately, you’re not in charge of everything,” he explains. “For example, there are governance issues, which are just as important to consider as any other goal. But I find that with hard work and commitment, eventually everything falls into place.”
For John and his small team at Yachting Malta, the possible opportunities that the future holds for the industry more than justify their efforts. “Yachting will keep growing in Malta – opportunities are there. We must be proactive and take our message beyond the island. We’ve done it with other industries, so we can do it with yachting. Our flag and fiscal incentives are already well-known, but more must be done when it comes to accommodating, servicing and hosting yachting events in Malta. Bringing national importance to yachting in Malta will boost the economy, and the public relations, of the country.”
As John drives the future of the Maltese yachting industry, he also maintains numerous other official roles, including sitting on the Board of Governors at FinanceMalta, as a non-Executive Director of multiple Maltese companies, as a Fellow of the Malta Institute of Taxation, and as a member of the Institute of Financial Services Practitioners. Yet, with so much on his professional plate, his key to success is remarkably simple: “it all comes down to being passionate about the things I strive for and getting things done. My mother was a great doer – she never procrastinated, she just did what she had to do in good time. I think that’s a huge factor when it comes to success in life. Stress is caused by doing something that you cannot do in the time that you have, so be bold, be passionate, and focus on getting the job done.”
MaltaChamber.org.mt is proud to be serialising MaltaCEOs 2019, a high-profile publication consisting of 50 in-depth interviews with leading CEOs in Malta. Celebrating the most influential business minds in the country, two different interviews will be featured on this business news portal week by week. MaltaCEOs was created by Content House Group in collaboration with the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise & Industry.