Chief HR in the Spotlight: Making the Case for L&D


The integration of Learning and Development (L&D) with Human Resources (HR) stands as a linchpin in propelling organisational success. As HR and L&D professionals collaborate on multifaceted fronts including talent recognition, talent development, and succession planning, it becomes imperative to scrutinise the synergies and challenges defining their relationship.

The panel discussion is poised to delve into the intricate dynamics between HR and L&D, analysing points of convergence, and divergence, and investigating avenues for synergistic collaboration to elevate learning outcomes and nurture organisational growth.  Panelists will engage in discussions prompted by probing questions spanning from emerging trends in L&D to its tangible effectiveness, alongside critical observations on equity in training opportunities and variances in career aspirations. Moreover, the discussion will intentionally explore the contentious intersection between promoting personal growth and fostering organisational success, igniting debate on how these objectives may sometimes conflict and whether prioritising one over the other is truly beneficial in the long run.

Through these discussions, we aim to not only distill valuable insights but also to challenge conventional wisdom and spark innovative thinking around the delicate balance between individual development and organisational advancement.

Moderator: Michelle Fenech Seguna – Founder & Director, Speak to Move

Ray Debattista – Chief People and Culture Officer, Bank of Valletta plc
Claire Farrugia – Chief People Officer, Ganado Advocates
Kathleen Farruguia Cefai – HR Manager, Shireburn Software Ltd
Ines Silva – Chief Officer Human Resources, MAPFRE MIDDLESEA and MAPFRE MSV LIFE
Sherif Sleiman – Senior Manager HR, Baxter International Inc

The Moderator

Meet Michelle Fenech Seguna, the driving force behind Speak to Move—a communication and leadership development company with fresh appeal. Michelle is a distinguished coach and trainer in communication and leadership with a vibrant entrepreneurial spirit.   As the Founder and Director of Speak to Move, Michelle enables business professionals to communicate with confidence and to lead with excellence.  She brings forward her knowledge acquired from her senior leadership experience to the realm of building strong leaders in organisations.

With a passion for unlocking the dual power of confident communication and effective leadership, Michelle guides professionals toward mastering the art of speaking clearly, concisely, and with unwavering confidence. Her expertise extends beyond the customary communication training, encompassing the dynamic fusion of communication and leadership skills.

Michelle thrives on working with individuals ready to embrace continuous improvement.  As a dedicated advocate for personal and professional advancement, Michelle is committed to shaping individuals into articulate speakers and influential leaders who drive success and inspire positive change.

Michelle Fenech Seguna
Michelle Fenech SegunaFounder & Director - Speak to Move

The Panellists

Ray Debattista
Ray DebattistaChief People and Culture Officer, Bank of Valletta plc

Ray Debattista was appointed Chief People and Culture Officer in October of 2023, after serving in an acting role since 2022. Ray joined the Bank in 1984 and throughout his career occupied various positions within the organisation, spanning both the retail network and other corporate functions. During his twenty years in Human Resources, he garnered an in-depth knowledge of the Bank and its people. His responsibilities spanned recruitment, employee engagement, performance management, training, career development, talent management as well as employee and industrial relations. As an active member of the Bank’s Executive Committee, Ray is responsible for developing and executing the HR strategy in support of the Bank’s overall business plan and strategic direction. He champions the Bank’s drive to be the Employer of Choice by focusing on employee journeys and career paths, whilst driving and implementing initiatives that enhance the wellbeing of the people. Together with his team at People & Culture, he is also responsible for succession planning, talent, and change management, as well as the management of healthy working relationships with key stakeholder groups including those representing the Bank’s employees. Ray holds a Masters Degree in Business Administration from Henley Management.

Claire Farrugia serves as the Chief People Officer (CPO) at Ganado Advocates, with a 27-year tenure within the firm. With over a decade of dedicated experience in Human Resources, Claire has advanced to her current leadership role, which she has successfully held for the past two years. Claire holds a Diploma in HR Management and an MBA in Coaching, Mentoring & Leadership, enriching her expertise in talent management, organisational development, and employee relations.

Claire Farrugia
Claire FarrugiaChief People Officer, Ganado Advocates
Kathleen Farrugia Cefai
Kathleen Farrugia Cefai HR Manager, Shireburn Software Ltd.

Driven by a profound belief in the transformative potential of human connections, Kathleen Farrugia Cefai is an HR professional with a diverse background spanning various industries. Her journey, marked by a unique blend of experiences, significantly influences her approach to HR. Kathleen’s HR journey commenced in the dynamic realm of a trade union’s subsidiary, where she advocated for employee rights, facilitated collective bargaining, and championed fair labour practices. Collaborating closely with diverse stakeholders, she gained profound insights into employee representation and the transformative potential of collective action in shaping organisational policies.

Her professional trajectory further led her to navigate the intricate dynamics of family-run enterprises, where she balanced traditional values with modern HR practices to foster business growth and sustainability. Bridging the gap between tradition and innovation, Kathleen leveraged familial bonds while implementing progressive HR strategies.

In her current role at Shireburn Software as an HR Manager, Kathleen integrates best practices from diverse industries to establish a people-centric approach that transcends conventional HR frameworks. She prioritises building robust relationships, nurturing talent, and cultivating a culture of empowerment where every individual feels valued, heard, and supported in their developmental journey.

Committed to fostering workplaces where diversity is celebrated and inclusion is embraced, Kathleen believes in creating environments where every employee is valued and respected. Beyond policies and procedures, she views HR as instrumental in facilitating environments where individuals can thrive, grow, and realise their full potential.

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.

Ines Silva
Ines SilvaChief Officer Human Resources Department, MAPFRE MIDDLESEA | MAPFRE MSV LIFE
Sherif Sleiman
Sherif SleimanSenior HR Manager / Country HR Lead - Baxter International Inc.

Sherif Sleiman is an HR professional, currently leading the Malta HR team at Baxter, fostering talent attraction, management & development. With over 15 years of experience, his career spans various industries, such as education, hospitality, retail/distribution & manufacturing. His experience has been directly involved in developing talent with a focus on training within his team and across organizations.

He holds a Master’s in HRM & Training and is a qualified trainer in addition to other coaching licenses in sports and education.

Outside the business world, he is a sports enthusiast and spends his free time coaching football for young athletes & players on the autism spectrum.