As one of Malta’s most successful business entrepreneurs, Alex Montanaro brings to the executive table a lifetime of experience as CEO and Managing Director of the Exalco Group, which evolved from a core business of international trade in non-ferrous metals into a group of companies that is a pioneer in developing purpose-built, open-plan modern offices.
“In my late teens and early 20s I initially worked as a trainee with a number of accountancy firms, and later held a number of executive posts within the real estate, metals and corporate services industries,” he explains. “Then in 1986, I decided to start my own business – forming Exalco Metals and Steels Ltd the following year, which marked the beginning of Exalco Group. Then, in 1989, I diversified into property investment and started an open-plan office space idea that, in due course, resulted in the chain of business centres that we now have in various locations across Malta.”
By creating his own business, Alex was launched directly into life as a CEO. “I was Managing Director on day one,” he smiles. “I guess I was self-appointed as CEO. I enjoyed the role and the business, and that, I believe, is the key to making a success of whatever one sets out to do.”
In fact, making sure to enjoy his work has been the cornerstone of Alexander’s career thus far, including his approach to being CEO. “When you enjoy your work, it is definitely good for your mind, and well-being,” he observes. “I enjoy leading the way, with the whole team pulling in the same direction to achieve our goals and succeed. Ultimately, that is the role of a CEO: to lead the way with creativity and honesty, and to steer the company forward towards achieving successful results. My approach to the role is very much like being the captain of a football team – a team does need a skipper, but it also needs others who can lead well.”
Alex cites working alongside such a close-knit workforce as one of his favourite aspects of his position. “I love the fact that Exalco Group remains a family business at heart, and that we believe firmly in sound corporate practices. It is very satisfying to see the fruit of our hard work, with an end result of growth and profitability that can be shared with those who have placed their trust in us.”
These ongoing efforts of the Exalco Group team continue to bear plentiful fruits, in fact, even in the face of the upcoming challenges and opportunities that Alex foresees ahead for the Group. “Recently one of our companies was admitted and listed on the Malta Stock Exchange. This development is an important milestone in our continued expansion,” he points out.
“Our chain of Exalco Business Centres is growing with new acquisitions, and we intend to have our buildings rendered with special emphasis on environmental issues. Malta, in general, needs to keep attracting foreign investment and the economy must remain strong for our sector to continue to flourish. With determination, we will overcome the challenges presented by sustainable development in our property sector and give an even greater personalised service to our customers and tenants at all times.”
Alex’s signature determination to excel in business is reflected in his focused yet fun-loving attitude towards life. “The biggest challenges for a CEO come when you are faced with difficult situations and a decision needs to be taken quickly to resolve matters and establish the best way forward. I am working with my sons and colleagues on quite a few projects at the moment; all are important, and I am confident all will materialise. You make things happen by strongly believing in what you are doing.”
Meanwhile, Alexander regards a good sense of humour as an invaluable tool in the business world, particularly to reduce his stress levels. “It is important to find time to relax and do things I enjoy. Laughter is vital, and, for me, sports, football, swimming and cycling are a good way to de-stress. I would like to be remembered as a guy who worked hard, played hard, was honest, serious and professional on the job, and never hurt anyone.”
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.