Interview with Maxine Desira – Chief People Officer – Bay Street Group
It hasn’t been an easy ride for Maxine Desira who joined Bay Street just under two years ago in the role of Human Resources Manager. The past two years have in fact proven to be amongst the most challenging in any human resource professional’s career, as the pandemic really wreaked havoc in all aspects of life as we knew it.
“It was truly a baptism of fire when I joined Bay Street in January of 2020. With the first cases of the COVID-19 pandemic in March of that year, and the subsequent partial lockdown shortly after, it was instantly challenging for an organisation which depends on crowds visiting retail outlets in a Shopping Complex, to name only one business unit the Group offers to its Business-to-Customer audience. Looking back however I realise how far-sighted the Group had been to see the opportunities in the middle of all that craziness, and choose to build on their strengths rather than focus on any weaknesses”, Maxine recalls.
In fact, Bay Street Group has made it a point to prioritise its employees even at the toughest of times when all outlets were shuttered up. The Group also made a very significant and substantial investment in a brand new five-star superior hotel across the road – the Hyatt Regency Malta – widening its scope and operational breadth.
“Throughout the pandemic, all members of our our various teams in the various business units or verticals we operate in – namely Hospitality, Retail, and Food & Beverage – pulled together and we managed to maintain a positive outlook” Maxine posits, as she expresses her gratefulness for the senior management’s long-term vision, but also the comradery of all employees in the Group.
The thousands of visitors who have returned to the refreshed Shopping Complex in the past months, have realised that Bay Street shopping complex is brimming with energy and life – now more than ever. Same goes for other units of the Group, including Rainforest Cafe Malta, which has recently opened to offer a wild-dining experience.
“…and the crowds are really responding to our offering and that of our team, as we have been registering significantly climbing numbers week on week” Maxine proudly notes. “We are proud to be hosting an ever-growing retail sector, featuring some of the country’s leading local and international brands, which caters for a wide array of shoppers. We are also proud to note that five of the brands operating at Bay Street Shopping Complex are operated by the group itself – making the success even sweeter”.
Asked what she feels is the part of her job that gives her the greatest satisfaction, Maxine takes less than a second to mention the numerous employee success stories she has witnessed in the past months.
“At our Group, opportunity is constantly knocking, and we make sure that all employees, in all strata and all units have ample upward room for growth. I am always pleased to see a salesperson who becomes a shop manager – or a server who starts taking the lead of their respective shift. These stories truly make the job worthwhile, since its these stories that truly make a difference in people’s lives. That is our Employee Value Proposition; and ensuring we consider our people as part of our asset base”; Maxine says.
“This is how we keep a motivated work-force who is happy to be welcoming patrons into the shops, stocking shelves, serving tables, maintaining the complex or doing any of the tens of jobs, necessary to run this ambitious yet extremely rewarding operation.”
“It is very much in line with our vision of providing career paths rather than jobs” Maxine notes. “Out of our 200 odd employees, we have a very high rate of retention, and this is testimony that they truly feel they are treated as prime resources to the operation. They are all crucial to our success!”
And the conditions are not bad at all! Maxine in fact explains how Bay Street Group offers competitive salary packages, attracting the best talent in the various fields – but not only! “Through a different mindset, we make it a point to be different from the competition, offering a healthy work-life balance which is essential for a motivated workforce, but also an unparalleled experience at the work-place. In fact, we are all too pleased to have opened our brand-new canteen ‘The Hive’, which welcomes all the Bees (our playful way of referring to ourselves round here), to chill, have a coffee and a recharge” Maxine concludes.