“Realistic with a good grip on reality, practical with unnecessary excitement.” That is how 45-year old Mr Sean Camilleri, Senior Assistant Central Purchaser for Corinthia Hotels Operations in Malta, described himself.
Reality and practicality seem to be essential requisites for his tasks. Insider Plus queried what would the job of a Purchaser for hotels involve. Mr Camilleri explained his responsibility for procuring goods and services for resale or company use, after evaluating quotes, negotiating contracts, and keeping an open eye on the market to introduce any new suppliers/products when and if needed. One also has to keep in mind the needs of every individual property and adapt to the requirements and requests needed.
“I must be constantly in touch with the market and the hotel operation and need to keep an open dialogue with the various heads of departments to understand their daily requirements, which are ultimately the needs of our guests. I must always find a balance between cost, quality, and availability of the product.
In these problematic times one cannot avoid a question on the effects of Covid-19 on activities. “When the pandemic first hit us way back in March, the activity at our properties slowed down but I kept my self-busy and continued without missing a day. I had many things which I always wanted to do, but never found the right time for them, so I got involved in inventories, reorganisation of our stores, barcoding etc. At the same time, I still had the procurement of the Athenaeum Spa to take care of, so that kept me going too.
It is important to keep an open dialogue with our suppliers; we need the support of each other in such challenging times. Sourcing of certain goods has now become more challenging due to supply routes and production times.”
And Brexit? “Brexit has also been a concern to me, and I am in contact with new suppliers outside the UK as all imports have new additional cost with the introduction of new taxes and tariffs.”
Mr Sean Camilleri’s father was a restauranteur and owned two restaurants. How did that affect him? “After leaving De La Salle College at the age of 16 it was only natural for me to attend the Institute of Tourism Studies, which was opening its doors for the first time. I was always involved in the catering industry since I was a young boy and I remember that most lecturers lunched at our restaurant in St Julian’s, a few minutes’ walk from the college. They encouraged me to apply for the first intake at the college.”
Do how did Corinthia enter his life? “I joined Corinthia in November 1993 when I came down on holiday from the UK were, I was working as a commis chef, a junior member of the kitchen staff. At that time Corinthia Palace was about to open its doors after a refurbishment and I was told they were recruiting. So, this was the beginning of my journey…’
Mr Camilleri spent the first few years in the kitchen and worked himself up from commis to senior sous chef (second-in-command to the executive chef). He then moved on a management training journey for two years, going through different hotel operations in Malta.
“I started my career as a purchasing manager at Corinthia Palace five years ago and I have now moved to Corinthia San Gorge’s in the roll of senior assistant purchaser for the Malta Hotels.”
Moving out of the work arena, Insider Plus asked about Mr Camilleri’s family. “I am married to Sharon and have one 19-year-old son, Kyle, who is currently reading computer science at University. We are sort of exceptional, since I come from a large family…so full of life that at times I find it hard to keep up with them. When we meet up on special occasions, we number over 40!”
And the Corinthia Family? “Corinthia is my extended family, where we share the same values and goals. In times like these, when we are faced with an unprecedented challenging situation, we all put our ideas together for the benefit off all.”
To add colour this chat, Insider Plus asked Mr Camilleri to narrate an interesting episode. He was generous; he came up with two: “Two interesting episodes that come to mind are the two grand events I took care of, from the procurement side. One was Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Corinthia Palace and the other was the surprise birthday party of our Chairman, Mr Alfred Pisani. In the Queen’s visit I was dealing with the persons who normally take care of such events and who were sent to Malta 3 months in advance. I had to take care of the many specific requests from the procurement of the food to the uniforms of all the team serving the dinner, to all the glassware, linen, flowers, dining ware, and the decoration of the dinner venue. We went to so much detail that I basically had to get all that was requested from all over the globe.
The Chairman’s surprise dinner was something special. I was very lucky to have our Chairman’s wife, Mrs Maria Pisani, as my point of reference and I must say I have learnt a great deal from her in terms of organisation to the smallest detail. She is so thorough and blessed with such taste and elegance.
A few days before the surprise party, Mrs Pisani received the table numbers that were sent over from London. Unfortunately, we received half the number needed for the tables. At this point I had three days to sort this issue out and after contacting several suppliers to have the table numbers made locally, I managed to find a company which laser-cut them from a special material. We then had to spray them in the same colour as the rest. To speed up the process we had our in-house carpenter spray them on the morning of the event. We made it! The whole dinner was special; elegance curated with minutest detail.”
The way Mr Camilleri chatted made it obvious that he was easy to get along with. Or was our assumption incorrect? “ I get along very well with all my work colleagues and I support them as much as possible. I firmly believe that if you show respect and appreciation, you will in return be respected and you will garner more support for the benefit of our company and guests.”
Insider Plus felt all through that Mr Camilleri was in love with his job, but out of curiosity asked if he would love to do any other job with Corinthia. He was quick on the draw: “I have been in the world of procurement for the past few years where I have carried with me a world of experience as an all-rounder in the hotel business, and I have no intention of changing my career path in the foreseeable future.”
How’s that for job satisfaction!