Last Updated on Thursday, 21 October, 2021 at 10:50 am by Andre Camilleri
An interview with MARTIN VELLA, Chief Executive Officer, Dynamic Events (Malta) Ltd.
As you began your career, did you know that you wanted to build companies?
That desire started when I was 35. I used to work within the shipping industry and then moved to the building and constructions sector. I was employed for long hours at a stretch, promised a lot but rewarded nothing in return for my dedication and loyalty. Following that, I was employed as an International Business Development Manager with a great company with a fantastic boss, who always kept his promises, and we became best of friends. Creativity and innovation were always characteristics that I sought to develop to help me look at the world in new ways and form ideas to improve or add to it. They are active characteristics, meaning they have to be used deliberately in order to create something beneficial, authentic and feasible.
I was already building business groundwork through the business development connections I was making and took an a journalistic journey that eventually brought me to creating my own company and helping build others in the process. One summer, I made a little more than €7,000. That’s when I realized I would never work for anyone, and I haven’t since.
I took the money I made with that business and moved it into other businesses along the way. The largest of those was the Malta Business Review for infomercials, commercials and printed adverts, together with my partner Margaret Brincat. From there, I was able to become a dedicated business event organiser, so I started investing in organising, managing and running events.
I always liked businesses that I could build from the ground up. Dynamic Events was a huge success right away and led to us achieving our objectives. Once I took that over, I focused on looking at other business to acquire from a consumer-centric standpoint, using technology as the vehicle. This is how I came to where we stand now, through which we have figured out how to disrupt the whole event organisation scene by creating something genuine.
Is the focus for you more about innovating or disrupting?
Disruption cannot happen without innovation. We look at ways to innovate the sectors. DEL had the platform set up and a lot of data, but we didn’t have this organised. Based on some of the early experiences we did, I knew that once we launched, we would be totally disruptive, which we have become in the most positive of manners.
For Maltese businesses in general, if the event requirements which are at the top of the food chain are leading a healthy ecosystem, it will be healthy in several other areas as well. Over the past five years, more than 72 percent of businesses have not been to various business events and award galas. More than 80 percent of our customers are eager or wanting to have such events, so we are providing them a celebratory platform to earn their achievements and share them through networking with a flat business role model – I call it award social re-engineering – to help them fall in love with the business awards and their significance to the whole Maltese and Gozitan entrepreneurial and economic growth.
How do your business award events work, especially during COVID-19?
2020 will always be remembered as COVID-19 year. We were restricted, I would say unreasonably and without any scientific raison d’etre behind certain decisions taken to close off our sector for over eight months, and then repeat the sequence for another six months this year, imposing unrealistic and illogical measures which could not enable us work. I mean, how can you make a profit out of an event for 100 people! Our sector is the only sector in the entertainment industry that was not mentioned enough and given its due value and recognition. This has caused us huge loss of revenue and great stress. I retained all my staff, as I believe in people and t their right to work. My theory was that if we could organise responsible, controlled events, meaning that we have total control of what we do and over the guests we bring to these events, then such events can happen without any fuss.
Our events are built to recognize entrepreneurial initiatives at local or national level that promote an entrepreneurial mindset, especially among young people and women. Our events were created to enhance the image of entrepreneurship and entrepreneurs, and to promote the culture that encourages creativity, innovation, risk acceptance and hard work. Our events identify and recognise successful activities and initiatives undertaken to promote business enterprise, as well as showcase and share examples of best entrepreneurship and practices. Through our events we create a greater awareness of the role entrepreneurs play in society.
Additionally, we have a selection board which screens nominees, shortlists them and advises us about nominations. Our sales team is geared up to organise meetings and secure the nominations, and thereafter, there is the final gala evening ceremony, with red carpet, professional entertainment and awards, which are the only ones audited and accredited in Malta.
Our guess is that as we provide plenty of opportunities through our award platform, the power the entrepreneur will achieve by winning an award will determine where they will stand the next year and surveys tell us that winners have an increase of 30% turnover from the previous year!
Did the government departments come onboard quickly in support of this concept?
No, not really. The government ministries, despite making huge strides in organising their own events, some of which are copied on other business models, or EU financed, have big budgets, yet different scope, which at times is more political, than business-driven. It has been years and years that we ask different departments for financial support, and the only receptive one so far was Gaming Malta. Others have promised, but not delivered.
Financially, now even more after COVID-19, event costs add-up against us right away, and event venues, F&B, logistics, lighting, security and other outside sources furnishing or supplying event requisites want to get paid instantly. Government ministries, when contacted say they are interested but always want to take a wait-and-see approach. Otherwise, it is as if we are barking upon the wrong tree.
We were the only company that managed to organise events during the height of the pandemic between October and December 2021, without one single recorded COVID-19 case out of over 1,700 guests. This means that we are capable to hold events responsibly and there is no need to close the sector in such circumstances, since there are ways and means how to deal with viruses and how to control them without making a big issue over it. In my opinion, instead of consulting with us and helping us, the Health Authorities did the opposite and jeopardised thousands of jobs. Health authorities are publicly exposed persons (PEPs) and also working in the public sector. Therefore, they should be completely transparent and immensely consultative, not the other way round!
You have referred to Dynamic Events Ltd as an “innovative and dynamic organization with a unique culture.” How is DEL able to maintain this culture with the size and scale of the firm today?
There is a direct link from our culture to innovation and how we collaborate on our clients’ most challenging issues. Our culture is our greatest asset and through our culture of inclusion and participation, everyone has a seat at the table, and all voices are heard and valued. This is the foundation of what we call high-performance teaming, and it leads to better solutions and endures as DEL grows. It’s a privilege to serve the best companies and entrepreneurs in Malta, and attract the most talented professionals. Our clients expect us to ask better questions and they push for innovative solutions. Our people thrive in this environment and it’s enabled by our culture of promoting entrepreneurial mindsets.
How do you define culture and how is it kept front and centre at Dynamic Events Ltd?
Culture is the foundation of who we are and from that comes all we do. Even though it is something one cannot touch, culture can definitely be felt. Without question, a strong culture propels an organization. A weak culture holds everyone back.
There are many factors that go into shaping culture. For us it all starts with our core values. These constitute what we believe and what we expect from each other. They guide our decisions. They inspire our actions. And they gauge how we do business. They are shorthand for what we stand for – and what we stand against.
Our core values – collaboration, integrity, passion and inclusion – are fundamental and timeless. We keep these at the forefront in creative ways – desktop displays and other visual reminders throughout our offices, for example. But the best way is through our team members’ own experiences and personal expression. We incorporate our core values into our everyday lexicon and actions. That is how we bring it to life. That is how we make it stick, so that it grows and also infuses our culture. A culture of growth – not just growth itself – is more of a mindset that is shared by everyone in our firm, client-facing roles and support roles.
Growth is embedded in our overall strategy. We grow to get better – not just bigger. And we grow to make a difference – not just make a profit. For our employees, growth provides a challenging and rewarding career centered on lifelong learning. For our clients, growth brings greater solutions that enable their businesses to thrive.
What advice do you give young people early on to build a sustainable career and what are your Pans for the future?
Have solid experience across many things, but be indispensable in one or two specific areas. This way, if one knows a lot about a niche of tenants or industry, or has a particular skill set, he or she can rise above their peers. However, that takes time and effort. Sometimes people look for a quick payoff or result but it can take time to develop an expertise and the experience to know more on a topic than someone else. It’s critical to put in that time and to follow one’s own dreams. My advice is: NEVER GIVE UP!
As for the future, there is something new brewing in the pipeline, however, it is premature for me to divulge any information, although what I can say is that this will involve the real estate sector!