Looking back on his career so far, Joseph Maggi says he has always been driven by one thing: learning. As an engineer by profession, he worked in manufacturing and production for the first seven years of his career, during which time he was able to touch upon a number of crucial aspects of business development, including quality, reliability, research and development, and production.
Then, after seven years with other companies, he was asked to join MMH Malta Ltd, previously Ablecare Group – as Director of Operations in 2011. “I was thrilled to be able to make that move,” he says. “Primarily because, for me, work is so much more than just bringing home a wage. I am most driven by investing my energy into something and building it, and partaking in the product that is being created.”
Joseph’s journey in MMH soon took him from operations to administration, giving him the opportunity to develop an understanding of every facet within the company and to gain much-needed insight into its strengths and weaknesses, as well as the ins and outs of the sector as a whole.
“My background before MMH was at ST Microelectronics and Baxter Ltd, and they provided another stepping stone in my education as they are universities in their own right,” Joseph explains. “The knowledge I gained and the mentorship I received there were very formative. So, by the time I reached MMH – which is a much smaller, family-oriented business – I was able to bring a certain level of corporate understanding to the table, which did help to grow the business.”
By 2014, Joseph had shifted his focus to the organisation’s process management and dedicated a lot of his energy towards helping it achieve accreditation and diversification. “It was around the same time that MMH submitted the bid to take over the ex-Malta Shipbuilding facility,” he continues. “That period marked a major milestone for us.”
He explains that, also at around that time, the company was transforming from a typical family business run by its founder, Paul Abela, who is now Chairman of the Board, and shifting into a new sphere as a more corporate entity. Joseph contributed to guide MMH through that transition, while retaining its resolute family roots. It worked, and in 2016 the company was awarded its mammoth Marsa facility and, shortly after, was listed on the Malta Stock Exchange. Then after a stint as COO, Joseph was appointed CEO in May 2018.
“As COO I was directly responsible for the organisation’s daily operations, in tandem with providing guidance on the different functions within it,” he says. “That is definitely a full-time job in itself because it involves a lot of people management and is very detail-oriented.”
“As CEO things take on a different dimension altogether. Suddenly, there was a need for me to formalise all of the strategic processes, instead of following the more informal approach we had taken in the past. I also became the face of the company, so there was a learning curve to undertake there too.”
Joseph says that, in his role today, he is particularly driven by ensuring the strategy is being implemented in the right way – that the operational processes are being executed, the required legal elements are in place, that quality, health and safety standards are being met, and that everything is being evaluated correctly. “With all of that considered, we are then able to move another step forward in our transition,” he says. “For instance, we are now in a phase of implementing a succession plan, and moving towards a more corporate way of doing things. That said, we are resolute about retaining the family feel that we are known for; the team is very much part of our family. Of course, client satisfaction is also at the very core of our business.”
Currently, it is the development of the MMH facility, as well as its management, that is at the top of Joseph’s to-do list. “I am working to ensure that what’s needed is ready on time; not too early because that would be a waste of resources, but not too late either.” Of course, that is no easy feat when you consider just how mammoth the facility is, with a €55 million investment being made and set to be completed in the next few years. “We are operational even now, but this is still the investment phase,” he explains. “There are many opportunities to consider, especially after the long downturn that the oil industry faced in the last few years. But there are still challenges to consider too, including learning how best to work with the stabilisation of the sector and hoping the upturn will continue. In the meantime the diversification process to meet the general maritime sector is ongoing, which is compatabile and complements oil and gas.”
In fact, Joseph sees the next five years as absolutely crucial for the future of MMH. “By then I have no doubt that this will have grown to become a very diversified platform for services through collaboration. Malta has so much to offer to this sector from a regional point of view, that if we can be successful in bringing everything together here and also injecting international expertise, there will be nothing stopping us from becoming a truly excellent regional solution for all maritime, oil and gas endeavours in the entire Mediterranean,” he adds.
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.