Interview with James Sammut: Consolidating towards sustainable growth
Updated: Jun 9, 2021
Give me some background about yourself and your professional career.
I graduated as a Mechanical Engineer in 1995 and after a short spell with the local utility provider, I entered the manufacturing world, taking on various Production, Quality Assurance and General Management roles within organisations operating in the furniture, food, electronics, and plastics industries.
After 13 years in manufacturing, I joined Tuning Fork Ltd in 2008 as Senior Projects Manager where I was responsible for executing client assignments directly dealing with process improvement, re-engineering, and environmental management.
In 2011, I became Director and Senior Partner and a year later I completed a three-year MBA with Henley Business School.
What led you to establish Tuning Fork Advisory? How did the company grow?
In 2001, Ing Joseph Caruana established Tuning Fork, focusing on business optimisation opportunities at clients. I joined the company in 2008. Over the years, we grew organically, focusing on pre-defined key result areas and established business pillars.
Tuning Fork is a learning organisation and deeply people-centred. This is a mainstay of our core values and we believe that the key to our success always came from strong leadership and a people-enabled culture that sought diversity in competence, experience, and character.
Today, 10 high-calibre professionals constitute Tuning Fork and are ready for the next wave of growth as a result of this acquisition.
What is Tuning Fork’s unique selling points in your opinion?
The past 14 years have taught me that the biggest difficulty faced by company leaders and their people is implementing changes (incremental or radical). This is where our niche lies and prospers. We do not simply present reports or give presentations expecting the client to implement the changes on auto-pilot. Clients expect pragmatic solutions from us.
We are firm believers in the process and in the people, driving the management of change, hand holding the people during this challenging time of transition after assessing organisations objectively, listening to them and mapping the way forward.
Having a strategy is not enough. Strategy needs clear objectives, plans, resources and effective implementation. We help clients optimise their businesses from concept to execution. The devil is in the detail and so is success.
What are the main areas that businesses are not fulfilling and that you can help them with?
Nowadays, businesses are inundated with exigent requirements from various interested parties (EU, authorities, corporate and internal). Trying to manage all these areas is indeed taxing and by time, most initiatives fizzle out due to lacking resources and change management challenges.
Tuning Fork ensures that these compliance and process-related issues are tackled effectively by ingraining the systems within the company processes and culture. By outsourcing such important functions, organisations will gain the peace of mind that such aspects are operating well in control and sustainably. Concomitantly, they can focus on what they know and do best – their core competence.
Now that Tuning Fork Advisory is part of NOUV, what new strengths will it bring to the table?
This is a marriage that we have been looking forward to for a number of years and after only a few weeks, the synergies have already started reaping results. The merging of NOUV’s financial management, Audit & Assurance, Corporate Services and Tuning Fork Advisory’s process-approach puts us ahead of the pack as we can now truly offer a complete package to any client.
Our belief is that in today’s fully globalised market, organisations require more focus. We deliver best-in-class business management practices, based on data-driven decision making, risk, strong leadership and sustainable processes, ensuring that our clients achieve the triple bottom line: economic sustainability, environmental protection, and social equity.
Has the current pandemic defined any new business opportunities for your company?
Once Covid-19 hit our shores, we were expecting drastic work changes and uncertain business realities. In effect, many companies parked our services to focus on critical issues whilst mitigating costs due to the uncertainties.
This was common to the advisory and professional services market across the board. Nevertheless, I am proud to say that we managed to weather the storm without any state aid and financial backing from the banks.
Back in March, we sought the ‘first survive, then thrive’ strategy and one key strategic change identified back in May 2020 was partnering with other organisations. This was the driving force behind the NOUV-Tuning Fork Advisory acquisition where together, we are now stronger and better.
Your company is also active in the field of corporate governance, an area very much at heart for NOUV. How do you plan to collaborate together on this front?
Governance is all about doing business properly for the good of all interested parties. Good governance may not reap immediate results but is crucial in dire situations or during times of change. Having proper systems in place instils peace of mind, compliance and ensures business continuity.
Together with NOUV, we will tackle good governance based on legal requirements, best-in-class paragons such as ISO and world-renowned standards depending on the market being scrutinised.