Tuesday, 26 September 2017, 09:57
Last update: about 37 minutes ago
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m Maltese-Swedish, was born in Switzerland and lived there until I was 10, when I moved to Malta. I went to school and university in Malta, and realised early on that I was fascinated by psychology and human behaviour, so that became my chosen path at university.
Given that I was exposed to family businesses on both sides of my family, and dinner table conversation often revolved around business, I discovered that I loved the business side of psychology, so I did my MSc in Occupational Psychology in London. I worked with PwC and Merrill Lynch before joining a global leadership consultancy called YS. To cut a long story short, after seven years with YSC in London, Hong Kong and India, I moved back to Malta to set up my own leadership and talent firm – Baton & Baton. We work with companies locally and internationally to help them surround their CEOs with the right people in the right roles and to get the best out of their leadership and talent.
How has being a psychologist helped you arrive at where you are today and how has it influenced your life as a mother and business woman?
The thing about psychology is that it’s at the heart of how we human beings function and interact with each other. I don’t often consciously think about it, but it has definitely informed my relationships with my family and friends, how my husband Gary and I raise our kids, how we work – both with my own team with our clients. And as a mother, we bring so much of our own ‘stuff’ into parenting – some of it positive, some of it less positive. I think psychology helps me (try!) to be more aware of the impact I have on my kids and to be more conscious of the choices I make as a parent, and the environment we create for them.
How do you strike that balance of being a mother and business woman and what challenges do you face day-to-day in this dual role?
If I had the perfect formula to answer that question I would be a billionaire by now! The truth is it’s a day-to-day and week-to-week juggling act. Having my own business gives me a lot more flexibility, but often at the price of sleep and ‘me time’! What helps me strike the balance is (1) structure: I have certain days I work full days, others are more flexible; (2) a lovely, trusted nanny who can drive and do pick-ups when required; (3) a husband who is extremely supportive of my career and understands that sometimes I need to travel for work – we have a golden rule of never travelling at the same time; and (4) a mother and sister who love the kids and also help out!
One big challenge I found when I became a mum was the realisation that it was going to be impossible to give my full 100 per cent to work in the same way that I had done before, unless I worked really long hours and didn’t see as much of the kids. I wanted to be present and spend time with my kids, but didn’t want to give up my career, so I had to readjust and ‘pace’ my expectations of what I wanted to achieve with my business, and by when, and what expectations I set of myself. I think it’s complicated as a woman, and finding balance and what feels right is a very personal choice for each woman, and one that takes time to resolve.
Growing up, who would you say was your greatest inspiration or role model?
My Swedish father and grandmother, my Maltese family for entrepreneurial energy and business-mindedness and my brother Daniel who, sadly, grew up with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and passed away at the age of 23. He was, and still is, a source of inspiration for his relentless positivity and resilience.
What has been the most memorable, eye-opening experience on your journey to starting up your company Baton & Baton?
Starting up a business in India played a big role in my path to setting up Baton & Baton. At the time, (I was 30) I knew nothing about India and, apart from my boss at the time tasking me with setting up YSC’s India business that needed to break even within a year, it was pretty much starting with a blank canvas! The experience taught me that if you really tune into what your market and customers need, and if you are passionate about what you do, you’ve got the start of a business. When I set up Baton & Baton, I again found that our clients ‘taught us’ in many ways: where to focus, what expertise they needed and how to mould our offering, which centres around working individual and team assessment, coaching, team development and cross-business mentoring.
What does the future hold for Baton & Baton?
We are exploring complimentary avenues of growth to support our advisory work (such as leveraging technology and exploring partnerships with other companies,) and we are also looking to potentially set up offices in two other countries outside Malta. So these are exciting times, with plenty more learning to come!
How can we find out more about the services your company provides and do you currently provide any work opportunities?
You can find us on www.batonbaton.com, and on LinkedIn. We are always happy to hear from people who might want to come and work with us – in our associates, given that we work with senior leaders, we look for experienced or specialised facilitators and executive coaches, preferably business psychologists..
Are there any communities or groups you would recommend for young women start-ups in Malta?
Communities like SHE Malta have a big role to play in raising awareness and simply providing a space for creative, talented and enterprising women to connect and learn from each other. I particularly like the focus on social enterprise that SHE promotes, and highly recommend it. It would be great to see even more hubs like this that offer different focuses for women in corporate business, the arts and sciences or at governmental level.
What has been your experience of working with SHE Malta?
SHE Malta invited me to participate as a guest speaker on the subject of start-ups and how to make them work. It was fun to share some learning (from the good old School of Life Experience!) and to meet and listen to other inspiring women from a range of enterprises.
Do you have any words of wisdom to share with other women wanting to start a business?
My top tip is to really think through your idea and your passion, and what you want out of your business, before embarking on the journey. Starting up a business, as exciting and fulfilling as it can be, takes a lot of hard work and commitment. It can be quite lonely at times in terms of carrying all the decisions you are making each day, so being clear about what you want is important. I also highly recommend finding a few mentors and networking groups to help you on the journey!