As a third-generation family company established in 1960, Panta Group – previously known as Pantalesco – is founded on a cherished legacy, providing building engineering services in an ever-evolving context. Today, after two-and-a-half years as CEO, Katrina Attard is determined to keep strengthening this heritage, while also committed to propelling Panta into the future.

New chapters are hard to write. But, for Katrina Attard, the CEO of Panta Group – a third-generation family business established 64 years ago – they are necessary if a heritage firm is going to thrive in constantly shifting terrain.

“We have a clear vision, centred on sustainability and innovation as our two core pillars,” Katrina says. And these are not just buzzwords. “Ultimately, what this means is creating empowered people and fostering creative minds. Thus, we invest heavily in our team, and in our customers.”

Environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles lie at the heart of Panta’s future-focused drive. Indeed, last year the building engineering services firm – which provides electrical, mechanical, plumbing, HVAC, and lift installations in a highly-saturated construction market – enacted a series of transformations to ensure it stays ahead of the competition, today, and in the long term. One of these was to establish a new board of directors, incorporating professional members, to boost the available range of expertise.

“A fundamental transformation began with the very foundation of the company,” Katrina attests. The appointment of a new board of directors during this phase also saw the addition of independent nonexecutive directors, thereby bolstering corporate governance and infusing a fresh perspective into Panta’s strategic direction. “Our whole ethos revolves around our strong ethical compass and corporate governance.”

Choosing new members for the governance team involved shortlisting candidate profiles based on their track records – “we were looking for partners with a strong technical background and experience in working within a family business. Additionally, we wanted to take this opportunity to ingrain diversity into our board,” she explains.

Moreover, the firm rebranded from Pantalesco, dropping the last two syllables of the company name. “The business was founded in 1960 by my grandfather, starting as a tiny shop in Old Bakery Street in Valletta. It has grown with the local economy as we identified areas of opportunity. Today the name change reflects a business with a strong legacy which continues to evolve and grow. It also acknowledges our commitment to adapt, learn, grow, and move forward,” she says.

Katrina has been with the firm for 15 years, working across various organisational levels. She spent two years as Designate-CEO, transitioning from leading a team and operations, to her current corporate role. “It’s been an adjustment, but I’ve built a strong team around me, aligned with the ethos and vision for Panta going forward. Most of my conversations are with them, ensuring we’re all moving in the same direction,” she says. “When you start to see key team members in synchronisation, even running ahead of you, it’s exhilarating. At the end of the day, I’m only as strong as the exceptional people around me – our collective success is a testament to their brilliance and dedication.”

The changes within the company have unfolded within a strategic context as the firm positions itself for further growth, aiming to strike the right balance between being nimble while ensuring the necessary checks and balances are in place. “Throughout 2023, we focused on this aspect: establishing a clear strategy and direction for our future. For instance, one of our recent initiatives is the launch of Panta Hub, a space where we engage with industry peers, partners, clients, and employees in an approachable and welcoming environment.”

The site, located in Valley Road, Msida, provides Panta a platform to “explain our most innovative technologies; showcase how construction and buildings can prioritise environmental consciousness; foster trust through open communication; and guide stakeholders in designing and planning for better buildings,” she says.

There is a drive, Katrina attests, towards an enhanced sense of environmental sustainability across the construction industry, with Panta intent on playing a positive part in this cause. “Throughout our history, we’ve adapted – and we’re still doing so. We identify a need, whether that’s from our customers in the residential or commercial space, and we pour in efforts to meet that need. There is a drive – and I’m pleased to see it – towards greener buildings and cleaner technology, and an awareness of how we can have a lower impact on our environment. And Panta is fostering these perspectives by creating a space – Panta Hub – from where we can communicate with our clients about what we do, how it can be applied to their projects and how we can customise our offering,” she asserts.

Panta is responsible for creating the “engineering landscape” of the built environment around us – a task managed by a 250-person-strong team including a team of 50 roving service technicians. “We have specialised teams for different projects,” she explains, noting that the level of expertise is founded on the understanding that “we’re installing equipment for the lifetime of that equipment. We distinguish ourselves by being a customer-driven firm, and a big part of that means being responsive and committed to our clients. So, we don’t see our relationships as shortterm, but – with any installation we complete – we are geared towards ensuring the product stands the test of time.”

As CEO of the group, Katrina sees her role as facilitating these dynamics. “My position is multifaceted and strategic in nature, working to foster the right culture in line with the firm’s vision and aligning our successes as a whole. I see myself as being the glue between the whole executive team and the board – making sure we’re aligned,’’ she says.

To this end, this year Katrina will oversee the growth of the business’ product portfolio. “We have a number of projects lined up and expect substantial growth from our renewable energy line. We’re also going to bring more software-related solutions to the market, as well as introduce more building management systems, which will improve transparency for those managing the buildings themselves,” she asserts, explaining that, in a business context, where the properties are owned by companies, this would allow them to turn the data reaped through the system into actionable objectives.

Ultimately, she continues, over the next 12 months, Katrina would like to see Panta become even more technologically driven, offering “products that are sustainable, and making a positive difference.” Aligning to the wider context is a challenge, the CEO admits, but she believes in “clear communication and effective listening,” adding that what she truly enjoys about her role is “seeing an executive team succeed in reaching the ambitious goals they’ve set for themselves. It’s a reciprocal drive – their success motivates me, and vice versa,” Katrina attests, concluding.

This article is part of the serialisation of 50 interviews featured in MaltaCEOs 2024 – the sister brand to MaltaCEOs.mt and an annual high-end publication bringing together some of the country’s most influential business leaders

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