CEOs in the Spotlight: Expectations from HR in relation to L&D


The relentless pace of change in a globalised market, and a dynamic workforce create a complex environment for CEOs. This panel discussion seeks to bridge the gap between CEOs and their HR teams. We’ll focus on CEO expectations for HR, specifically regarding workforce development and continuous learning (L&D). The discussion will explore the skillsets CEOs need within their workforce to thrive in this ever-changing landscape. We’ll delve into how HR, through strategic L&D programs, can equip not only the CEO with resilience and new skills but also the entire workforce. The ultimate goal: ensuring HR aligns with CEO priorities, fostering a high-performing workforce that positions the organisation for long-term success

Moderator: Noel Debono – Human Resources Manager, Attard & Co Food Ltd


  • Marcel Cassar – CEO, APS Bank
  • Christina Galea – CEO, Costa Coffee Malta
  • Antonello Gauci – CEO, Inspire Foundation
  • Pauline Micallef – CEO, MaritimeMT
  • Nikhil Patil – CEO, GO plc

The Moderator

Noel Debono is an FHRD board member and a Human Resources Manager at Attard & Co Food Limited.  He brings to the table over 17 years of Human Resources experience across multiple industries. His areas of expertise include management and leadership, human resource operations, learning and development, and workforce planning.

As a Human Resources Manager, Noel holds responsibility for all aspects of the HR function, ensuring a positive and productive work environment. He enjoys the challenge of single-handedly driving HR strategy and execution, ensuring a positive impact on both company culture and employee engagement.

With a degree in Computing and a Masters in Business Administration, Noel is also a certified Business Coach and a trainer.

Noel Debono
Noel DebonoHuman Resources Manager, Attard & Co Food Limited

The Panellists

Marcel Cassar
Marcel CassarCEO, APS Bank plc

Marcel Cassar is the CEO of APS Bank plc since 2016. His career started in 1987 with Price Waterhouse Malta followed by MIBA/MFSC, now the MFSA (1991-1996). He was General Manager at Lombard Bank Malta plc (1996-2004) and First Executive Vice President and CFO at FIMBank plc (2004-2015). He has served as Chairman of the Malta Bankers’ Association between 2018-2020, and again since 2022, leading to a seat on the board of the Brussels-based European Banking Federation (EBF). Marcel is a CPA, a fellow of the Malta Institute of Accountants, and holds an MBA in Bank Financial Management jointly from the University of Wales and Manchester Business School (1995). He has lectured and examined at both FEMA and the MA Financial Services course, University of Malta, and is a frequent speaker and writer on topics related to financial services, banking policy, and management.

Christina Galea currently holds the role of CEO for Costa Coffee Malta and has been leading the business for the past eight years. Costa is a subsidiary business of the Corinthia Group and enjoys a strong presence across the island and is one of the major food and beverage retail franchises in Malta.

Christina began her career in Human Resources within the hospitality industry and held the role of Director of Human Resources for Island Hotels Group for a number of years after which she chose to put her people skills to a different use and shift her career to business management which lead her to her current role as CEO for Costa Coffee.

Christina is also a Board Member of the JA Foundation (previously known as Young Enterprise) supporting the foundation in its mission to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy.

Christina Galea
Christina GaleaCEO, Costa Coffee Malta
Antonello Gauci
Antonello GauciCEO, Inspire Foundation

Passionate about leadership, sustainability, and driving meaningful change, Antonello Gauci is a dynamic and results-oriented leader with a proven track record in effective team management. With over twenty years of management experience and as a fellow of the Institute of Leadership (UK), Antonello brings a wealth of expertise to his roles. He has served as the CEO of the Inspire Foundation for the past 8 years, an NGO dedicated to serving individuals with disabilities and employing over 160 people. Additionally, he is an administrator of The Alfred Mizzi Foundation, The Ladybird Foundation, Dar il Hena Foundation, and the CORE Platform. Furthermore, he contributes his expertise to the sustainability committees of several companies, furthering the cause of responsible corporate practices.

Pauline Micallef is an Accountant by profession, possessing both an ACCA qualification and a warrant as a CPA, and is also a Fellow Member of the Malta Institute of Accountants. She also holds a Master’s in Business Administration from Henley Business School at the University of Reading.

With over a decade of managerial experience at Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd, the world’s largest generics pharmaceutical company, Pauline served as a Director and managed large teams through multimillion-dollar projects, including business development and SAP implementations. In addition to her managerial expertise, she is also a lecturer, conducting workshops in Financial Management and Microsoft Excel.

For the past 3 years, she has held the position of CEO at MaritimeMT, the leading maritime education school in Malta. Pauline leverages her vast experience in business management and education to lead and develop the organisation, helping to shape the next generation of maritime professionals.

Pauline represents MaritimeMT as a member of the Malta Chamber of SMEs and the Malta Chamber of Commerce, and since 2021 has been a committee member of the Malta Chamber of Commerce’s Yachting Services Business Section. Moreover, she has recently been elected as a council member of the Super Yacht Industry Network Malta and acts as the Treasurer.

Pauline Micallef
Pauline MicallefCEO, MaritimeMT
Nikhil Patil
Nikhil Patil CEO, GO plc

Nikhil Patil is a seasoned professional with over 20 years of experience in mergers & acquisitions, strategy, and operations in TMT industry. Currently Group CEO at GO plc, a quad-play communications operator in Malta & Cyprus. He is actively involved at Board level in Cablenet in Cyprus and BMITT in Malta, both of which are part of the GO Group. Before joining GO, Nikhil was responsible for the creation of Malta Properties Company p.l.c., today one of the largest publicly listed real estate companies in Malta, where he served as CEO until 2018. Prior to this, he held senior positions, with Interoute, EIT, Dubai Holdings, and Marakon Associates. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Mumbai, India, a Master’s degree in Industrial Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology, and an MBA from IMD, Switzerland. Mr. Patil is a Charter Financial Analyst (CFA).