Last Updated on Thursday, 18 March, 2021 at 10:57 am by Andre Camilleri
The pandemic may have seen many companies locally shut their doors, and vast numbers of the expat community leave the island (along with Brexit in the mix). Yet, countless individuals have relocated their lives from afar to start working in Malta. Dayna Camilleri Clarke spoke to Derrick Maguire and Éva Csipán-Balla about how they have found navigating a new normal.
The UK to Malta
Having lived in 12 countries in 25 years, Derrick Maguire moved to Malta from London to take up the CEO role of Luxfair Real Estate in October of last year. Maguire’s speciality is franchising, and his job is two-fold here in Malta. Firstly, he has to build Luxfair Real Estate from scratch then launch franchising. So far, he has built Luxfair up to 6 offices – Head Office and 5 franchise offices. Maguire also delivers all of the training for the group.
With regards to whether Malta met his expectations, Maguire explained, “It is very challenging here. But I am starting to win the battle and bring excellent customer service to the clients. I am also carrying out enhanced training to keep the momentum going as well as supporting the staff/franchisees at all times.”
Maguire planned to move before the pandemic and relocated his family just for the role. “I moved from Head of International at Chestertons to take this job in Malta with Luxfair. Many things attracted me – the package I was offered, the challenge to build up from nothing, a brand, being given full authority to mould the franchise and build it up”
“I also saw a huge opportunity to bring increased service levels/customer service to Malta. Plus, there was a place for a local company with an international reach. Finally, how could I say no to living in this beautiful country, with perfect weather, sea close by, an affordable lifestyle and speak English!”
When asked the most significant challenges faced regarding relocating amid a pandemic, while also adapting to a new work normal, Maguire replied, “The way of doing business in Malta is truly unique compared to other countries I have worked. Secondly, I would say for my sector, the way a property is sold. I mean as the Konvenju takes so long to go through. It can fall out of bed at any time. I was used to the UK way and Dubai way, which meant completion happened very quickly compared to the slower Maltese way.”
He added, “The fact all listings are mainly open to all, this causes problems for all involved – the real estate office, the negotiator, the landlord/seller. The service level is not the best as there are too many people allegedly dealing with the property and promising many things to the client, much of which they cannot deliver.
Czech Republic to Malta
Originally from Hungary, Éva Csipán-Balla spent 4 years in Prague, Czech Republic, before moving to Malta in January this year. Her role is as an Information Risk Officer for a leading gaming company. “I moved to Malta for this position within a completely new and exciting industry where I have a lot to learn and discover. In general, I feel Malta is quite different compared to Czechia or Hungary, and I was looking forward to this change for quite a while now.”
She added Malta met her expectations and is extremely satisfied with how her working life is going. “I knew what is waiting for me in the Mediterranean, but I do find the cold flats are pretty challenging with working remotely! Other than that, I have not found any significant challenges to relocating here”
“With regards to work, not meeting my co-workers and company gatherings are the big ones I genuinely miss, but we have video meetings that are much better than calls. I also had the chance to talk to my direct manager in person a few times, which helped me to settle a lot”
“I feel Malta being an English-speaking country makes it easy to settle quickly in general. My colleagues are exceptionally welcoming and helpful, which also helped me to adapt to my job quickly. I was also lucky enough that when I arrived, I still had the chance to hang out with fellow expats a few times to establish some form social life, which felt like being reborn after 7 months of full lockdown overseas”