As everyone gets caught up in a frenzy of gift-buying in the lead up to Christmas, it can be easy to forget the holiday’s religious significance, which after all, is the origin of the feast.
Not so for Michael Bonello, CEO of Alliance real estate agency.
“I appreciate Christmas for its distinctly religious value of celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ,” he tells MaltaCEOs.mt, adding that during the festive season, he and his family get to spend more time together than at any other time of year.
That doesn’t mean that Michael is averse to giving gifts. On the contrary – when asked what gift he’s most proud of giving, he has an impressive answer.
“This is an easy question and I will mention more than one gift. Three years ago I helped collect about €30,000 to replace a damaged roof at Angela House children’s home in Pietà. Working with the Ursuline sisters was such a rewarding experience for me, that the following year we donated a brand new minibus to the Creche. This year we funded the refurbishment of their swimming pool with the installation of new liner and equipment. All this was made possible with the help of some of my close friends and Alliance agents who also contributed to the cause. These kinds of gifts stand out in my mind as the most rewarding for me.”
Like many of the CEOs we’ve interviewed, Michael doesn’t have much time for New Year’s resolutions.
“I don’t really wait for the new year to make resolutions, but yes this is a moment to reflect on various ongoing projects in my work life, especially on further consolidating and strengthening Alliance Group in the new year. On a personal level, I must resolve to take better care of my health and aim to spend more time with my children who are growing up very quickly,” he says.
“Despite the challenges the year has brought with it, Michael has made sure to keep the morale of his employees high.
“Thinking back, one of my most favourite moments this year was seeing Alliance people being awarded trophies and certificates for their hard work, whilst we were still in partial lockdown. We had organised a very well-staged event with precisely staggered arrival times for everyone, in full compliance with the COVID health rules at the time, and giving everyone this opportunity to celebrate success in person at that particular point in time was quite an achievement.
On the other hand, Michael says his least favourite moments were when he heard he had lost dear friends and relatives before their time.
“Unfortunately, this is part of life but it never gets easier to deal with loss like that.”
According to Michael, 2022 will be a “milestone year” for the real estate sector, not least because of one important change to the industry: the licensing of all estate agents.
“Whilst getting everyone qualified in time had its challenges, now that we can begin to see this elevating our industry to a more professional level and realising that everyone will benefit from it, we can’t wait to get there.
“Meanwhile, our industry is embracing the stricter regulatory regime we are working in now and we are all adopting a much more determined approach to important compliance matters that have become a way of life in our sector. As the head of MDA’s estate agents section, I meet most if not all operators in our industry, and I am very confident that as long as we continue working together, we are always going to be stronger to face the challenges of the future.
On what lessons he’s learned in 2021 that he’ll take into the coming year, Michael cites his experience both as CEO of Alliance Group and President of the largest representative group of estate agents in Malta.
“I think this year I’ve learnt more about the importance of collaboration, cooperation and forming alliances together to become stronger as a group. Within Alliance we have welcomed several new partner franchises, new managers and advisors, and as the family continues growing, we must constantly and consistently give more importance to a more effective teamwork mindset.”
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