Insider Plus decided to meet and chat with Mr Joseph Pisani, Executive Director of Corinthia Tripoli. And what a pleasure that was!
We were quite curious to see how Mr Pisani, a 55-year-old gentleman, could relate about his long years in Tripoli heading Corinthia in the best of times and in the hard times. It was pleasant to listen to him relate incidents without any exaggeration or trying to play the hero. On the contrary, he remained calm, balanced and factual throughout. But most of all, his hallmark, one would say, is his humane approach to work and colleagues.
Mr Joseph Pisani joined Trust House Forte PLC in the UK as an Accountant Trainee in 1988 and was Group Management Accountant when he left in 1993. He joined Corinthia Group in 1993 and has held various executive positions. He is currently Executive Director for the Corinthia Tripoli Hotel, he is also a Director of Palm City and he is Chairman of the Board of Corinthia St. Petersburg. Mr Pisani is a graduate in Finance from the London School of Economics, received his M.Sc. in Management from the University of Surrey and is a Chartered Management Accountant.
That’s a good background but the best in him is what and how he shares his best qualities with his colleagues to carry out any difficult tasks. He reflects back to the days when Corinthia Tripoli was a sine qua non stop for foreign heads of state and dignitaries. But those days had also their tough aspects. Security had to be faultless and hospitality impeccable.
The Corinthia Tripoli Hotel and Commercial centre is a landmark building, on the Tripoli coast, including two majestic curved towers of 28 floors and 14 floors respectively.
The hotel comprises 300 luxury rooms and suites, restaurants, a banqueting hall, several meeting rooms, an executive club floor, a Spa (including indoor and outdoor pool) and many other facilities.
The commercial centre is 7500 sq meters of office space that is leased out to International Oil Companies.
“The 2011 Revolt was a very tough experience but we did not close the hotel and we continued to operate.” When asked how he managed, Mr Pisani smiled in his typical amiable way: “When one is determined, one manages to make the best of the worst. Every day was a new challenge but my colleagues and I just kept on going. Naturally one was wary if the fighting were to get closer but those were days when determination surpassed fears and doubts.”
“I will never forget my Libyan colleagues who told me and the other expats, not to worry. If the situation worsened, they were prepared to take us to their homes.”
“One has to keep one’s humour at all times and see the funny side of things,” he said as he related how, when travelling back from Tunis to Tripoli, an officer at a road block asked the driver why I was travelling to Tripoli during a revolution. The driver informed the officer that I was responsible for the Corinthia Tripoli and so my presence was required in spite of the difficult times. The officer thought for a few seconds, conferred with an officer colleague and then handed me back my passport with a smile, saying, “Welcome to Libya and have a nice time!”
Humour for Mr Pisani is needed to keep close ties with all his colleagues at work. We asked him what was his secret to retain good fruitful bonds at work. “I believe in good communication, that is clear, to the point and timely, to keep colleagues in the know on our operation. Treat everyone with respect. Be understanding and feel empathy. Help those who may need you and if possible do it before you are asked to. A colleague of ours was hit by Covid and on his return to work after testing negative, I made it a point to go myself to welcome him back because Covid is something that could happen to any one of us. Be truthful since if you are caught in a lie you will not be trusted especially when difficulties are ahead. Listen, not just hear, but listen. Remain calm and avoid rash decisions. Ask colleagues what they think about certain matters and ask for their assistance in finding a solution. If things go wrong, I never blame others. I am ultimately responsible.”
Covid has caused added serious problems. “From March till August this year I could not leave Libya because of strict travel restrictions. To be honest, I could have left a day or two before the airport and borders closed but I decided I had to stay. The Hotel and the Commercial Centre require daily management. Payments had to be authorized, invoices followed up, directives to be shared, etc. I believe in leading by example and I possess a profound sense of duty and responsibility. ”
Must have been tough for his family. “Yes, very much. My wife and two children missed me and I missed them tremendously. It was very difficult not knowing when I will be able to travel again.”
And his working days? “I work 7 days a week. I only take my leave / days off when I am out of Libya. I am at office by 8.00am and on a good day would end at 6 pm when I would try and go for a 30-minute run. Sometimes, I will work until 7pm and occasionally even 8pm depending on the work load. I have dinner at 8pm with colleagues and then go to my room to read, listen to music (from Heavy Metal to Classical), watch National Geographic documentaries, keep up with the current affairs, etc.
It was indeed a pleasure to chat with a man who is acutely conscious of his duties and responsibilities but is equally aware of how to exercise them in a compassionate and considerate manner, without in any way compromising his professionalism.