Grooming tomorrow’s entrepreneurs | Michelle Gialanze

Michelle Gialanze, CEO, International Vocational College (Malta) on what she thinks it takes to be successful at the place of work and the major challenges young entrepreneurs are facing today.

"By the end of the academic year, I believe three of our students would have set up their own enterprise” – Michelle Gialanze

Can you tell our readers how the business college was set up?

"The college was set up to provide a pathway into the workplace, helping students gain employability skills within the business sector. We have small classes where we prepare students for work, equipping them with skills which we have mapped out through research and that would be needed in 2020 2030.

"We believe that by taking an active overall responsibility towards the ongoing success of the employer's business our students can ensure better than average job security in the future."

And what kind of business education does it provide?

"The school started off with the department of enterprise and entrepreneurship. Here we are tackling the intrapreneurial skills that are needed in the future. Our students add value to the work place as they know what it means to set up a business and run one."

What are the major challenges young entrepreneurs are facing?

"You would never believe it, but themselves. They are the greatest challenge to themselves - self confidence. At the college we have had students who are absolutely outstanding and have skills which include analytical and entrepreneurial abilities."           

How important is company branding?

"Branding is part of all successful businesses, and the brand is reinforced by the individuals behind it. The entire organisation is part of a brand, and the passion and drive they have towards that brand is seen by the customers.

"In fact, one of the practical projects which IVC shared with its students is entitled Brandit. Another similar project will follow suit in November this year."

What do students learn most from hands-on approach (work placements)?

"We often have a perception of how a job is, or what a job is about. Work placements have offered vital practical application of theoretical skills learned in the classroom. "Most successful companies use a widespread system of work placements or apprenticeships in order to continuously remain at the top of the game.

"When students do our work placements, they have a mentor assisting them and guiding them, so that they learn the maximum possible during this time."

Have many of your students set up shop or are about to?

"By the end of the academic year, I believe three of our students would have set up their own enterprise. The others are already gainfully employed within the group of companies, and they themselves are intrapreneurs.

"In fact, only yesterday one of the students called me saying that he has been given a better job at the work place, as he had to handle challenging situations and he was able to do so successfully."

What does it take to be successful at a workplace?

"There is certainly no golden answer to this one. But what I have observed, is that if you enjoy what you are doing, if you are passionate about what you do and believe in what you are doing, you will be successful.

"This intrinsic motivation allows you to face challenges that are bound to occur, and instead of giving up and saying I can't, one finds solutions... That is what being successful at the work place is all about, and therefore the answer to your question really is - attitude to work."

How does your college differ from others?

"We are a private college, which allows us to be very student-centred, in addition we assist our students to:

Gain an international Diploma (we are a BTEC centre)

Gain work experience, where they have a mentor assigned to them

We give students a business project to run during the academic year, and if it is viable and profitable they keep the profits.

Help our students build their own business plan

"Our main focus is to help our students to get the best they can, sharing with them insights from the business world. We want our youth to be even more successful than past generations, through our expertise we share with them while also guiding them to enhance the strengths we help them explore in the first place."

What advice would you give to somebody wanting to kick-start a business?

"Listen to others, get as much advice as possible and finally go with your gut instinct as this has been built by your experiences and knowledge."

What is the best part of running your college?

"Being with the students and seeing them grow and develop into themselves. This is wonderful, as you see that they gain clarity and perception about their abilities and finally contribute these tangibly to the real world."

What investments are required for a business in Malta to be viable? How do you assist your students in this sector?

"It really depends on the business, what sector you are looking and how you are going to operate. We assist our students by helping them set up networks, encouraging them to understand what is available to them both through funding and business angles."

How does business education affect the innovative activity of companies?

"The world never stands still. Innovation is more than just a new product or service for customers. Innovation can take place in all dimensions of an organisation from the offering of products to services.

"Innovation must be about creating a source of enduring competitive advantage for a company."

How does your college prepare students to face real-world business problems in terms of skills?

"Lecturers at IVC have themselves set up successful businesses. They have walked the path, so to speak. Therefore, besides the case studies, the curriculum available through various reading materials, they share insights into their specific expertise.

"Also this enterprise and entrepreneurship course allows students to run their own business idea during the year, with all staff assisting them. The students are doing it, and accordingly they themselves are the experts."

About the college

IVCM is a totally different learning experience designed from the ground up with the student in mind. With IVCM the student has a chance to taste the different options before having to make one of the most important decisions of their life.

IVCM's courses are designed around the individual, giving them the opportunity to get a feel for the different job streams before choosing which one they would like to pursue.

At the IVCM students are given a head start by equipping them with the real skills that are needed today in the work place.

The college residence is situated in the heart of St Julian's and also offers student accommodation.

For more information visit


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