Theresa is one of those people you will really want to have a beer with. Her studies and experience are as diverse as imaginably possible, and a brief conversation with her will likely explore fields such as business, finance, anthropology, culture, and many others.
With a keen interest in anything and everything, in her role as Director and Company Secretary, Ms Bugeja Calleja assists businesses navigate the uncharted quite effectively. She in fact, as per her own description, is a generalist – a person who takes it upon themselves to maintain a wide understanding of all the elements that constitute running a business, and beyond.
“A generalist, contrary to a specialised technical person, will have the advantage of seeing the wider picture and really understand matters within a vaster context,” Ms Bugeja Calleja explains. “The generalist in fact will be able to draw on several elements, and different factoring agents which might be affecting the operation of a company, really going to the root-cause of the issue. This is something which is probably harder to do for persons who are hard-wired to speak and understand one field of expertise.”
Ms Bugeja Calleja expounds on how a generalist will not only be able to merge data from different units from the same company, but they will also be able to bring in a wealth of knowledge from different sectors. Theresa herself in fact has helped companies operating in shipping, retail, pharma, aviation, textile, food and beverage, hospitality, automotive, dairy production and several more.
“Many times, the challenges of one company will be similar in nature to those being experienced by another in a totally different sector – logically the solutions can be shared,” Ms Bugeja Calleja reveals.
Generalists are also quicker to analyse certain situations than their specialist counterparts, as they will likely be more comfortable analysing wider sources, sometimes even looking at history.
“History has a strange way of repeating itself – whether it’s conflict or sociological development, there is a lot to learn from the past,” Ms Bugeja Calleja notes. “What Russia is currently doing with grain supplies is comparable to what General Mark Antony did 2,000 years ago, for example. Similarly, many businesses will face challenges, for which solutions lie in previous experience – having a broad understanding of what can be useful is certainly an advantage,” Ms Bugeja Calleja says.
“While an economist would have to wait for a Eurobarometer report to really conclude certain findings, a generalist would have come to the same conclusion analysing other data. Indeed, our findings will not be as detailed as those of an economist or a technical person – but they will certainly sound the warning earlier and buy an organisation precious time to take action ahead of their competitive market”, she continues.
Generalists will also be sensitive to different cultures, which makes a great deal of a difference, increasingly so in a globalised world. “We often make the grave mistake of assuming that everyone’s culture is the same – and this couldn’t be further from the truth”, Ms Bugeja Calleja notes. “Being considerate for people’s cultural baggage will often make a great difference in matters of HR relations or risk assessment, among others. Expecting team members to fall in line is a fallacy in itself. If we are careful enough, we notice cultural differences, from one Maltese town to another, half a mile away – hence, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that people joining our teams from the Far East, just to mention an obvious example, might find it useful to have someone friendly help them adapt,” she maintains.
Ms Bugeja Calleja is keen to clarify that generalists will never replace the accuracy of technical staff who will always be required to run a business. “Naturally a business will still require a CFO and other specialisations, however generalists bring something different to the party,” she expands.
No person in a company structure is better suited to be a generalist than the company secretary or the Chief Business Development Officer. Ms Bugeja Calleja has helped a number of companies from large, manufacturing ones to small family businesses providing a generalist view of challenges, which otherwise would likely remain siloed and unresolved, according to the particular unit they would be coming from.
“A generalist,beyond providing all that is professionally needed in accordance to local law, will be in the optimal position to analyse data, and present it to the board, in an efficient way that saves time”, Ms Bugeja Calleja states.
“The company secretary, for instance, can effectively act as a conduit between the different departments of a company, helping each in preparation for board meetings, and following up after. It could be as simple, yet so effective, as preparing a power point presentation that doesn’t get everyone reaching for their specs because the numbers will be so small”, she remarks.
“Ultimately, more and more companies are realising how important it is for them to have a generalist in their corner who will be better suited to think outside of the box, while drawing from a huge pool of knowledge – and that is what we do for the very tangible benefit of businesses, no matter the sector, or size”, Ms Bugeja Calleja concludes.