Little Rock, Big Dreams

Dream big Malta

Malta has the highest concentration of talent and potential I have ever seen in such a small geographical area: be it musical, artistic, culinary, entrepreneurial, IT related, etc.  The beauty of this is that it makes Malta a strong and diverse country to live in both from a business and leisure perspective.  With such potential constantly being nurtured, it stands to reason that the Maltese Islands may prove limiting for some.

I recently attended the Dream Big Malta conference powered by EC.  In the words of EC’s Executive Chairman, Andrew Mangion, the conference was devised to reach out to “the future of our small, great island” with motivational success stories and advice from some of Malta’s inspirational sons and daughters.  The line-up of speakers was impressive and included The Corinthia Group Chairman Alfred Pisani, Mountaineer Douglas Barbaro Sant, Interiors and furniture designer Francis Sultana and Paralympic hopeful Ollie Mangion, among others.


Though all operating in very different fields, there was a very definite common thread running through the stories of everyone who addressed the group of young people in the audience.  That was that success is the outcome of hard work, risk taking, overcoming fear and having BIG dreams.

For speakers like Douglas, and Endurance athlete Nathan Farrugia, their inspiration comes from very close to home. In Douglas’s case it was his mother and his wife and children who inspired him to overcome his fear of heights and scale Mount Everest.  Nathan’s motivation rose from within as his battle with childhood asthma and injured knees led him to the realisation that he had what it took to succeed at endurance sports.



Douglas Barbaro Sant

In other cases, it was small achievements that bred the bigger success.  For Suzanne Sharp and her husband, when they ventured out of Malta to open up a branch of The Rug Company in London, their pioneering customer service ethos and dedication to quality led them to collaborations with designers like Paul Smith.  Their success in London spurred them on to venture into New York. Suzanne says that the secret to their success has always been recognising their limits and not compromising on what is important, such as their family life.



From left to right: Nathan Farrugia, Suzanne Sharp, Joseph Busuttil & Moderator Vanessa Macdonald

Foster Clarks  Managing Director Joseph Busuttil, shared with the audience how his family’s company grew out of the ashes of an English company that went bust in 1967.  As local representatives, his family decided that they could keep production going out of a garage and continue to distribute products locally.  Today Foster Clarks has one of the most state of the art production lines in Malta and distributes its products in over 80 countries worldwide.

Probably one of the speakers that resonated with me the most was Francis Sultana, owner of London based Francis Sultana Design Studio. Voted as one of the top 20 interior designers globally, by Wallpaper magazine, I was really drawn to Francis’s evident love of Malta, and his birthplace of Gozo, given that all his success has been achieved abroad.  He describes Malta as having a great energy that he is very attracted to. Francis believes in always questioning oneself and that the love of what we do can help us overcome our biggest insecurities.  The same can be said for Ollie Mangion, the Maltese born Wheelchair Rugby player hoping to make it to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics as part of Team GB.  Ollie’s physical disabilities have meant he has had to change sporting disciplines time and again. But his sheer love of sport and the absolute faith of his trainer, have pushed Ollie to find a sport in which he is truly successful and happy.  All this while studying for a BSc in Anthropology at the University of Kent. The true meaning of determination and grit if you ask me.



From left to right: Ollie Mangion, Francis Sultana, Alfred Pisani & Vanessa Macdonald

Another team of young hopefuls are the creators of Kwaver, the music collaboration app available for download from the app store.  Their journey took them from an idea to the realisation of their app thanks to one simple philosophy.  Sometimes to achieve success you just need to ask for what you want. That is exactly what they did while in California attending a Google tech summit.  They contacted the right people, got the right introductions and low and behold got the right funding.  If you don’t ask you won’t get.



From left to right: Clint Tabone, Brendan Borg & James Zammit from Kwaver

Having worked at EC for 15 years myself, the chain of English language schools behind the conference, I have seen first-hand just how surprised people are when they realise that a Maltese-born company has become a multi-national success story.  In fact, there are several parallels that can be drawn between the International growth of EC and that of the Corinthia Group: Home grown brands that grew to take on podium positions locally, before conquering the world stage from a position of strength; both run by leaders with vision and determination to overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges; surrounding themselves with a strong team of people; investing in some of the world’s best locations. Corinthia’s Alfred Pisani said that he has always been passionate and relentless at pursuing his dream.  The lessons I have learnt personally from Andrew Mangion are difficult to count. However, they all ultimately boil down to two golden nuggets: Don’t be afraid to fail; and don’t settle for anything less than your absolute best.



Andrew Mangion

I believe that these are all messages that go to define the vast majority of the people of Malta.  While this edition of Dream Big Malta was aimed at our aspiring younger generations, the ideas of perseverance, passion, determination and lofty aspirations, permeate the philosophies of many of the Maltese at large.  Whether aiming to succeed at home or abroad, Malta and the Maltese have what it takes to turn Big Dreams into thriving realities.


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  1. charlene schembri says:

    Hi could u pls sent me ur next events pls sorry if i am not sending on d right post


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