‘Policy has been a lifelong passion of mine’ – new Malta Chamber CEO

Last Updated on Thursday, 13 May, 2021 at 12:16 pm by Andre Camilleri

Dayna Camilleri Clarke speaks to Dr Marthese Portelli about her new role at the Malta Chamber of Commerce.

The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry recently appointed Dr Marthese Portelli as the new Chief Executive Officer. A graduate in law, former PN MP Portelli brings with her a wealth of experience in policy formulation and negotiation. She has occupied senior roles in the corporate world for 13 years in the technology sector, before her 7-year stint as a Member of Parliament during which she shadowed several challenging portfolios including EU affairs, energy, environment, transport, infrastructure, capital projects, planning and property. Last year she was appointed as the first Director General at The Malta Developers Association (MDA) before taking up her new post at the Chamber in recent weeks.

What do you believe you will bring to the Chamber?

First and foremost, I would say that I share and relate very well to the values and aspirations of The Chamber.  Being well aligned on these aspects is crucial to continue building on its strong legacy and I believe that my diverse skill set, and personality will help in being an engaging and effective driver of the Chamber’s vision.

My experience in the corporate world coupled with my experience in policy formulation and negotiation will also help in driving The Chamber’s vision forward.  I am a law graduate and I have been trusted with senior roles in the corporate world for 13 years in the technology sector, during which I spearheaded several nationwide projects within the public sector and the private sector, and was also instrumental in setting up group structures to operate internationally both within the EU and the MENA region.  This was followed by a 7-year stint as a Member of Parliament during which I shadowed several challenging portfolios including EU affairs, energy, environment, transport, infrastructure, capital projects, planning and property.  Following my departure from politics, I ventured into the sphere of sectoral representation at Malta Developers Association on a part time basis while working as a management consultant in my professional capacity. Policy has been a lifelong passion of mine, and the Chamber provided me with the opportunity to do policy on a much wider platform.

That said, I am fully aware of the huge responsibility and challenges that being a CEO of The Malta Chamber brings with it.  However, I put passion in everything that I do and and once I put my mind at something, irrespective of the challenges that it brings with it, I give my utmost to succeed.  It is indeed an honour to be entrusted with the CEO role and I am fully committed to continue building on its strong legacy, its sound values and its successes.

What are your key objectives? and what priorities will you tackle first?

The Malta Chamber has been representing business since 1848 making it the longest established Social Partner in Malta and the highest echelon of business representation.  It comes naturally to me to say that my main objective is to give more value to our members. 

I want to see businesses of every size and sector succeed.  I want to help business achieve more, beyond whatever one could ever achieve alone.  I want to help our members connect better, nationally and internationally, with other businesses and with opportunities.

The Malta Chamber’s team is very dynamic.  I urge our members and the business community to reach out to us – we are your voice and fully committed to promote, encourage and facilitate trade, commerce and investment.

What do you think will be the biggest challenges for the economy and the entities you represent in the coming months?

During the pandemic we learned to cope.  In the post pandemic world, we need to learn to thrive. 

We must remain focused on corporate resilience.  Business will need to re-engineer itself to adapt to the new realities and the changing customer behaviour.  Business must focus its efforts on supporting those key areas that will help it stabilise in the new environment and strategize for what’s next.  Business needs new skills sets which include social, emotional and digital capabilities. 

Are there any additional proposals you are working on with government in this respect?

The Malta Chamber is constantly being on the proactive front.  Just to mention 2 initiatives:   50+ recommendations in the Economic Vision which sets the pathway for Malta’s Future Economic Growth and Social Wealth and the over 40+ proposals in the wake of COVID 19 all of which are aimed at ensuring recovery of our economy.  The Chamber is and will continue pushing for a thorough economic recovery centred around the national priorities of Sustainability, Human Capital, Digitalisation and Good Governance.

What are your views on the supplement schemes for businesses, are the support measures enough?

Support in various forms is always welcome – the more, the better.  However, what matters most is the how and for what.  What matters most is not the amount given, but what it is being given for and its timely roll-out. 

Every sector has its own needs and challenges and needs to be evaluated separately – a one-size-fits all approach is not the best way. 

Government must make sure that the support given is being used to strengthen business resilience and to help it reinvent itself for the new way of doing business.  Government must also have the proper checks in place to ensure that the support being given is really being used for its intended purpose.

What’s the feeling of the businesses you represent, one of optimism or concern?  Do you anticipate a wave of unemployment and further closures of businesses?

With respect to optimism for the future, it is leaning more towards a positive confidence in post Covid recovery.  That said there will still be businesses which will be hit badly.  Government’s decisions will weigh in significantly on whether we experience a positive outcome or otherwise. 

This is where the Chamber will be giving more value to its members.  The Chamber has already shown that it can the catalyst of change.  I see it being the prime mover in bringing about the much needed paradigm shift in the mentality how policy is thought out and how things are done.  The Chamber will continue being the positive influence in the formation of policy at national level and at european level.  The Chamber will continue developing its enterprise culture which creates favourable economic conditions for the members whilst also promoting interests of the wider business community.

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