QP has been working on growing a number of support services that are crucial for the design, engineer, and management services already provided by QP. The Cultural Heritage and Geomatics integrated within the QP, set up back in January 2019, will, as a result of this development be reorganized under QP Consult. This is not an aesthetic change, but a further development and actuation of QP’s promise to provide the most comprehensive and coordinated suite of services through a single reference point to all its clients.
Edward Calleja, Senior Partner in QP, has been heading Cultural Heritage and Geomatics since joining QP four years ago, and is now championing QP Consult.
Perhaps an X-ray of this development would be better understood by explaining the various pieces that make up the puzzle.
“Essentially, this involves archaeology,” Edward explained with a dose of jutified pride when he poined out that upon graduating back in 2003, there was barely an opportunity for a job in this sector. “This has been my profession for the past 2 decades,” Edward added. “I am a qualified archaeologist, however the growth in business and added resourcing through the years oriented me towards a more managerial role. This new expansion sets me in a more senior role.
“Within the team, we have eight full-time archaeologists. In time, we have given the opportunity to our staff to devote their career towards a specific field of study. Thus, today we can count having on board an archaeologist dedicated to post excavation processes, another with experience in maritime archaeology, someone else mainly focused on conservation and restoration of stone.”
Why is an archaeologist needed in QP? “For the past two decades, archaeology has become a necessity to satisfy building permit conditions. The Planning Authority (PA) requires a licensed archaeologist on board who operates under the direction of the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage (SCH), when there is development in areas considered of archaeological importance or sites with potential archaeological findings.
“An archaeologist would be engaged by the applicant or the architect of the project. We are involved in a project from the initial stages where we conduct thorough desktop research done in-house by our historian. On site, the archaeologist is present from the removal of vegetation or the demolition of existing structures, conducting field-walking exercises and documenting each stage of works including the removal of soil deposits and rock-cutting operations, up till the laying of foundations. If deposits of archaeological relevance or features are found, archaeological investigations and technical documentation are carried out always under the direction of the Heritage Superintendence. As mentioned, the SCH implements conditions for monitoring any development within designated zones. In actual fact, archaeologists are licensed by SCH.”
We queried whether this assistance was offered only for in-house projects of QP or could also be extended to external clients who require only this specific service. “We cater for existing clients as well as third-party clients who specifically request this service. All our other services are offered along the same lines.”
Geomatics, another term used for land surveying, is the technique, profession, art, and science of determining the terrestrial two-dimensional or three-dimensional positions of points and the distances and angles between them.
“We carry out land surveying services, measurement of lands and buildings, or partitions of properties forming part of inheritances. We also survey our archaeological findings assisting our team of archaeologists. Our team of surveyors have been trained specifically during workshops organised regularly within the division to maintain their drawings up to international standards.”
Would technology play an important part? “Most certainly. We have invested considerably in land surveying technology in these past few years. We have four surveyors using sophisticated technology, including 3D scanning and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), commonly referred to as aerial drones. I got involved in this discipline back in 2016 and would say that through these years, we have become one of the leading surveying firms locally. Additionally, some months back, we also engaged in surveying services abroad, documenting a hotel in Budapest, Hungary. The team is adaptable to offer services abroad through geomatics.”
“Again, in this field, we can also offer this service to outsiders on a stand-alone basis.”
“This is a relatively new service which has only been incorporated within my Department since March 2022. It is essential when a proposed development would affect vehicular traffic flow or load, or else the project itself is a means to change the traffic flow.
“Last year, we engaged two qualified specialists who are currently working on a model for an infrastructural proposal of national importance. We have reached the final stage of this study and we are also close in embarking on other traffic modelling projects.
“Again, in this field, we use very specialised software, which is updated depending on the assignments we are involved in.”
Health and Safety
This is a new service that QP Consult is about to launch and will form an integral part of it. “We used to subcontract this specialised service, but in the coming weeks, we will change this to an in-house service with our own dedicated and specialised team of Health & Safety Officers.”
It has been our CEO’s objective and strategy to grow QP into a professional services company that is capable of providing the entire suite of services to our clients through a coordinated and single reference point. This does away with the challenges and various risks of having multiple consultants working separately on the same project.
Environment / Ecology
An environmental permit is needed for the following: Industrial Activities that produce potentially harmful substances e.g. landfill, dry cleaner, petrol stations, fish farms, discharges to sea, solvent emission activities; Waste Management Activities, such as waste management sites, where waste is transported, stored, recycled, treated or disposed; Quarries that are accepting and/or recycling construction and demolition waste; Activities related to Interventions on Trees, such as pruning, uprooting, transplanting and other interventions on protected trees; Activities in Protected Sites, such as clean ups, filming, camping and any activity in protected sites e.g. Natura 2000 sites; Activities on protected species or GMOs (genetically modified organism, that is an animal, plant, or microbe whose DNA has been altered using genetic engineering techniques), such as research on flora and fauna or genetic manipulation of species; and Trans frontier shipment of waste, that is export and transit of waste to other countries. These are just a few examples.
This activity falls under the supervision of the Environment & Resources Authority (ERA), which is the regulatory agency responsible for the natural environment in Malta.
“Later this year, we shall be consolidating QP Consult further by offering specialised services in the environmental sector. We are currently working on engaging a team of experienced professionals in environmental studies to join our team and service our clients in this regard.”
Sustainability consists of fulfilling the needs of current generations without compromising the needs of future generations while ensuring a balance between economic growth, environmental care and social well-being. This is an area that QP feels passionate about and one which ranks high on QP’s CEO’s agenda.
“We are currently engaged in a search for talent to augment the team further through the provision of sustainability advice,” Edward noted.
Edward Calleja has now seen his role develop from a professional archaeologist into a managerial position to oversee the work in QP Consult and ensure growth in size and services. “We are currently engaged on some 45 different projects a month in the different disciplines. Thus, it’s essential to manage my colleagues and our projects effectively and smoothly to retain high and efficient productivity. By end of this year, workforce in QP Consult will reach up to 20 to 22 consultants. It is essential to retain an eye on the markets we operate in and retain good relations with stakeholders, thus ensuring continuity in business within the different disciplines we provide. I have, in fact, an involvement in the Business Development of QP Consult.”
How does he joint manage all those projects? “My responsibility is to see that all the various services are offered in an efficient, productive, and seamless manner. Assisting me in overseeing all the efforts in QP Consult, I have Gabriella, a qualified historian and my technical assistant, and Julian who ensures that the operations on site are following the programme of works and scheduling agreed with projects stakeholders and regulators. All this joint effort allows us to keep our staff well organised. Naturally, I have team leaders in each discipline with whom regular planning and coordination of assignments takes place when we need to establish strategies or book provision of services.”
So, one can say that Edward’s work has greatly developed within his short time with QP. “You bet! And I love it. I joined QP four years ago. After graduating in Classics and Archaeology at the University of Malta in 2003, I started working in the sector around a year later. In subsequent years, I went on to establish my firm ECA Consultants Ltd (Edward Calleja Archaeology) adding surveying services in 2016. ECA was incorporated as a Department within QP back in January 2019.
“I felt privileged and honoured when Reuben Xuereb, Chairman & CEO of QP, tasked me with the growth of business in QP Consult.
“My dream at a young age was always to become an archaeologist. I did realise it, but through the years I had the opportunity to develop my career more towards a managerial aspect opening new horizons and increasing my adrenaline.”
In addition, in early 2022, Edward has been tasked to coordinate QP’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Focus Group which is very active in organising social activities of charitable nature, mainly supporting volunteering-oriented practices.
“One significant initiative by QP is the creation of a Welfare Fund where we continue promoting this scheme which can be of contribution in case anyone from the team is in need. A number of employees have contributed to this fund during last year. During 2022, our Focus Group was also actively involved in organising a number of initiatives following the conflict in Ukraine. We managed to put together an appreciable sum of money for Caritas Malta, which, in collaboration with Caritas International, collected money to financially assist people in Ukraine.”
The CSR Focus Group is today made up of 17 team members coming from different Departments within QP. Meetings where ideas are shared are held on regular basis. The team is also engaged on a number of other initiatives assisting various local Voluntary Organisations and agencies.
And what about home? “I’m usually quite reserved on this front. Yet, this is an ideal opportunity to openly thank my partner Antonella, for all the support she puts in when it comes to my career goals and achievements. She is a qualified make-up artist, an aesthetic beauty therapist, a fully-fledged person in her own right who runs her own business. I trust I can say that Antonella is my soulmate, and we have great plans set for our future together.
“We live in the outskirts of the towns of Żabbar and Żejtun treasuring the quaint rural landscape characterising the area. We are blessed with some agricultural land where we cultivate our own crops, flowers, and trees. Antonella and myself have a mixed-breed dog, named Bear. He is our darling baby!
And believe it or not, we also have three peacocks, Milos, Ios and Thera named after a number of Greek Islands visited last summer. We are both very passionate about travelling, experiencing a variety of countries and cultures. We organise trips abroad as often as possible, usually planning all travels a year in advance.
All this translates into a great balance between profession and personal life, very relaxing and certainly a relief after the work pressures.”
And how do you look at your future? “With great enthusiasm and excitement on a personal level and determination to achieve and even exceed the goals we have set for QP Consult.”