Having graduated in pharmacology at the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, and with a special interest in medical technology, Oliver Scicluna took the plunge to set up CHIC Med-Aesthetic Clinics, together with his wife — an aesthetic physician and a specialist in family medicine — back in 2013.
Looking back on the start of his professional journey, Oliver recalls how he became General Manager of a local pharmaceutical company after working as a trainee whilst undergoing his studies. Then, after completing his MBA at Edinburgh Business School, he came up with a business plan that led to the creation of CHIC. It all took off from there, and he hasn’t looked back since.
Describing the start of the business as the first major milestone in his career, Oliver reveals, “at the time it was a leap of faith, because truth be told, we were in a position where we were comfortable as we were. It was a risk, and we had actually put our house up as security for the bank, but nowadays with the benefit of hindsight, we feel like it was the right decision.”
Another landmark for him is a recurring one, that is, “every time an employee tells me ‘you’re the best boss I’ve ever had’,” he smiles. Attributing this to the friendly environment fostered at CHIC, Oliver explains, “we don’t have any vertical structures. While I am ultimately the decision maker, everyone is very much involved and my door is always open. We call each other by first names and it’s a very family-oriented environment. We don’t always agree, but it’s always constructive.”
Speaking about his business plan at the outset, Oliver affirms that his main goal was to open a centre that offers medical and medaesthetic services that caters to both locals and foreigners. This led to the decision to house the clinic within Skyparks Business Centre at the Malta International Airport. “Apart from catering for the south of the island, the airport is considered to be a hub for all of the Maltese Islands so anyone can visit, whilst also enabling us to target medical tourism,” he maintains.
And, as time goes by, he expounds on the importance of keeping abreast with the latest happenings in the field. “Both the medical and medaesthetic fields are very dynamic, and you have to keep updated with the latest goings on through scientific data, papers and networking — that’s the only way you can remain avant grade and provide the necessary solutions that clients seek. It’s an ever-changing industry, and is one in which knowledge is key,” he states.
One major development in recent years, in fact, was brought about by the global pandemic, and is one which instilled a swift reaction from Oliver and his team. “In the beginning of 2021 we took up the challenge of opening a swabbing centre at the Malta International Airport, SwabbingMalta.com. This has been a huge undertaking — one that required, and continues to require, quick decisions and responses in relation to an ever-changing environment, particularly given that we are generally dealing with a clientele that is faced with an adverse situation where time is against them,” he explains, adding that while this involved a lot of planning, “I’m happy to say that it’s been a huge success and that we’ve tested tens of thousands of patients since opening. It gave me a new challenge and it’s been invigorating on a personal level.”
Reflecting on the importance of planning, Oliver considers it to be one of the major qualities of a good business leader, noting that strategic planning is key. “It’s about how you gather information and evaluate it. You have to set priorities, and to do that you have to know how to focus energy and resources to strengthen operations, always keeping in mind your employees and the stakeholders, so that everyone works towards common goals and the intended outcomes and results,” he explains.
Whilst doing all that, the business leader continues, one should always assess how things are going and seek to streamline and improve. “I’m a true believer in the decision-making process — along with the big decisions, we are also constantly making smaller decisions. All of these combined will lead us somewhere, and unless you plan, it’s difficult to reach your desired outcome,” Oliver affirms.
As for important lessons he’s learned along the way, Oliver believes that ultimately, the biggest measure of success is happiness. “Whilst I acknowledge that no one can be happy all the time, I try my best to focus my efforts towards long term happiness, both for myself, my team and our families. There would be no success, irrespective of how much money you make or how popular you become, unless you’re happy.”
That’s not to say, of course, that there won’t be hiccups along the way. Revealing the unexpected aspects of the job, Oliver says that being a leader is also about dealing with the unexpected. For him, this generally involves troubleshooting issues with technology. “In today’s world, we rely heavily on technology, and I try to include it as much as possible where the human element is not required. However, as soon as part of this technology fails, you can get stuck. Those are always the situations that require urgent and top priority, so I would say that the unexpected aspect of my job tends to be the times when things are running smoothly and you get the phone call that a particular machine is not working, or there’s a problem with the server,” he smiles.
Still, such issues are mere bumps in the journey, and for Oliver and the team at CHIC, it is one that continues to be a challenging and fulfilling one. “We have reached a degree of growth and we now need to ensure the quality we are known for whilst also continuing to see growth within the company. The market is an ever-growing one, so our main aim is to remain at the forefront,” he explains.
Concluding with a final word of advice, Oliver circles back to happiness, and believes all leaders should do the same. “Irrespective of income, one should be true to themselves and love what they do. Remember that nothing matters unless you’re happy.”
The interview forms part of the 50 Business Leaders 2022 project. The new online serialisation on MaltaCEOs.mt will feature 50 distinguished business leaders, CEOs, and emerging business minds to create debate and encourage business leaders to share their journey with our readers.
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