A rebranding exercise and a relocation to The Centre at Tigné Point have kept the Group Head of HR and Administration at Mediterranean Bank busier than usual. Lorraine Bonello Ghio was interviewed by ‘The Sunday Circle’ about her career in banking.
It’s Lorraine’s first day in her new office at The Centre at Tigné Point, Sliema. Her orderly workspace stands serene amidst the bustle of workers frantically putting the finishing touches to Mediterranean Bank’s new head office. “I was scheduled to move next week but I was wasting too much time commuting,” she explains. Pragmatism is essential for the Head of Administration and Human Resources of Malta’s third largest bank.
Lorraine’s career started at Mid-Med Bank (now HSBC Malta), and initially things didn’t quite go to plan. “Back then everybody wanted to earn their ‘kaxxa’ and become cashiers so I was disappointed when my manager said I should focus on administration instead” she recalls. It was sound advice and Ms Bonello Ghio was personal assistant to Mid-Med Overseas’ Chief Executive Officer before being headhunted away from the industry. Describing herself as “loving banking but not a banker,” Lorraine couldn’t resist joining a new private bank called Mediterranean Bank as personal assistant to the Chief Executive Officer in 2006.
“The concept of a private bank didn’t take off and in 2009 Mediterranean Bank was purchased by AnaCap Financial Partners LLP who offered me the role of Head of Administration and Human Resources. So in essence, I’ve been here from the beginning and the family joke is that I have four children: Matt, Andy, Ben and MedBank.” In truth, Lorraine has seen the bank flourish along with her children.
“I’ve seen the bank grow from one office employing 7 people, to having 5 local branches and a substantial international presence, including a Belgian bank and a London based office. We were the first Maltese bank to open a bank in another European jurisdiction – MeDirect is our subsidiary bank in Brussels. Earlier on we acquired Charts, our wealth management business, which we will consolidate at our new Head Office. In 2014 we acquired Volksbank (Malta) and incorporated it under the MeDirect Group umbrella, and now we’re consolidating over 200 people from head office, operations and customer services. This bank is constantly evolving and changing, and we plan to continue growing, although Malta remains the heart of MeDirect Group providing all the group’s operational support.
“We couldn’t have come this far without the dedication and commitment of our multicultural team. Our staff hails from every corner of the globe and whilst the different cultures can make working together somewhat challenging at first, I find that in time we always manage to find a suitable middle ground that enables us all to work well together. Crucially, when we’re working on a project, we come together to work towards our goals, we all become Medbankers….or perhaps I should say Medirecters!
“Success is a group effort. Personally I know that I couldn’t have come this far without the invaluable support of my parents and children who believed in me, as well as that of my excellent team. On a corporate level, I believe it is important to have professionals who believe in you and enable you to contribute to drive the business forward, something that has been the key ingredient of the bank’s success.”