Little did Christopher Busuttil Delbridge know, that, when he began his first-ever job, it would grow to become his life’s work. To quote him: “I am still here,” he smiles.
His journey to the role of CEO of Evolve – and his passion for the scientific field – takes him back to when he was 17 and he won a local environmental contest, before going on to represent Malta in Cologne at the Young Europeans Environmental Research (YEER) competition. “I built a model of a solar-powered lift,” he recalls. And there was no stopping him after that.
From representing the island at the London International Youth Science Forum at the age of 18 to co-founding SciLink – the Junior Section of the Malta Chamber of Scientists, and, then, successfully reading for a B.Sc(Hons) in Chemistry and Biology, Christopher has never once wanted to work in any other sector. He says, “as a person, I like to be innovative and drive changes. To me, it’s all about leading from the front and being as hands-on as can be.”
Evolve is actually a subsidiary of Attard & Co, the company Christopher joined in 1999, fresh out of university. Ever since he says he has learnt on the job and worked to grow the organisation. He was integral to the opening of Evolve – the Group’s laboratory services arm – in 2006, and he subsequently became a shareholder and co-Director, before accepting the role of Managing Director. Today he leads a team of 21, while focusing on business development, key customer meetings and staff management.
“I think of myself as a facilitator,” Christopher continues. “I serve my colleagues so that they can achieve their maximum potential; I consider our shareholders and customers in equal measure so that everything can balance out effectively. I guess I am the ‘glue’ that keeps everything together, while also giving the company direction. That said, I am not the only one giving Evolve direction, we all contribute in our own ways.”
It is ongoing learning that really inspires Christopher, and he stresses that he is the sort of person to learn something every day, and from everyone he meets.
“As a result there have been so many people who helped to define the person I am today,” he says. “My parents taught me to be respectable; my mentor and boss Hugh Arrigo taught me all about the business world; many of our customers have inspired me to be the best for them; while my wife has helped to shape me in other ways, like when it comes to being a good family man. Overall, though, I like to make my own way through life, and to twist and adapt depending on what needs to be achieved in the moment.”
And it is all that that enables Christopher to embrace the challenges and opportunities he faces within the industry – such as transforming Evolve’s traditional business to meet the needs of the digital world. “The industry we operate in has lagged behind in that respect,” he says. “Although this is a very high-tech sector in many aspects, a lot of it is still manual, and we need to change that. Our biggest challenge for 2019 will be discovering how best to automate most of what we do and to bring it into the 21st century using digital means – such as AI, virtual reality, augmented reality, software bots and platforms, all of which we have started to explore. With the growing phenomenon of disintermediation, the time is right to redefine our role in the industry as value-added service providers rather than middlemen. Maybe we should morph into a consultancy and project management company.”
It is a path he plans to take the company on while maintaining his trademark trait: humility. “I truly believe that I will never know enough, so it is my wonderful team – whom I encourage to always approach everything with a positive attitude – that will help to drive us even further in the future,” he says. “Personally speaking, I have always been a forward-thinker, and I will continue to be forward-thinking in the years to come – not following anyone in the market but paving the way. I do see us growing substantially in the years ahead, especially from an international standpoint. The world is big and there is space for everyone in it.”
So that is how Christopher sees the future for Evolve – with a much bigger presence locally, and with offshore offices to accompany its headquarters here. “We know exactly which geographies we’re targeting and where we’re going,” he says. “I have completed a course on internationalisation and, since, visited three countries with lots of potential for us; we have already made contacts on the ground and a plan is in motion. For us it can only get better.”
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.