Managing Director of Yellow Pages (Malta) LTD.
Miguel Soler is the current Managing Director of Yellow Pages (Malta) Ltd, where in addition to occupying this leadership role, he also owns 25% of the business. Miguel is likely the youngest executive within the industry, and indeed is one of Malta’s youngest leaders. He strives for optimization, marketing, management, and teamwork play a huge role in driving success for his organization.
When asked “where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time” his answer shall always remain: “Doing something I love”.
Miguel is a graduate of Stonyhurst College in the United Kingdom and holds a degree in Economics and Management from the University of Malta.
Q. Is there anything that you started doing differently or something that you do every day since the lockdown started?
I think it’s quite a chance to you know, such a good fit for many people to focus on their health. This is something that I really focus on. I don’t have any specific health problems, thankfully but I’ve decided to start eating extremely consciously. Trying to eliminate as much as possible meat in my diet, soft drinks and even alcohol. I really kind of started focusing on what I’m feeding myself, as a way of nourishment.
Because I believe one of the main reasons people may know, clouded judgment or maybe they may not be feeling at their peak I believe it’s really connected to diet. So ever since the lockdown, I mean from my experience the lockdown, has been coming and going coming and going, but I am extremely conscious about what I’m eating and refueling, myself with. I received that pay in dividends especially with my concentration levels, had my productivity rates. So I believe that’s one thing.
I’m an avid swimmer so I would normally go out and swing and go training. Obviously due to the lockdown not so. So, I’ve been focusing on just doing exercises at home. So, good exercises like push-ups. So, I’ve been doing push-ups challenges. It may seem a bit trivial, but it really makes a difference in your core strength. And I think that’s an important thing I’ve been doing.
Really, importantly, keeping in touch with family members who are more isolated than me. So, that’s one reason that that’s one way I really feel I’ve managed to hit like the people by just contacting them.
Human insights, and human intuition, this is based around face-to-face interactions. I mean, we are talking, you know, virtually but it’s always great to be able to look at someone in the eyes. And judge them from their body language.
So, no, it is a bit difficult but I am trying to make the best of it.
Q. Can you tell me a little bit more about your hobbies? Is swimming one of them?
Swimming is one of them, so I would say I am very individualistic in the sense that I like doing them on my own. So, people are saying oh, I’m a team player, I do team sports you know. I am a team player at work but when I’m doing hobbies, I don’t enjoy team sports. So I am talking about hobbies such as chess. I love playing chess.
It’s something that, you know, my whole family obsessed with chess.
Another hobby I have is obviously swimming. I used to be on the swim team at school. I used to play water polo when I was younger, that’s a specific sport in Malta, where we actually punch above our weight as a country. With only just slightly half a million inhabitants, we beat countries much larger than us. We are not at the same level in football but rugby and water polo are up there with some of the best in Europe.
In terms of other hobbies, I would say my favorite hobby is sailing. I am passionate about the sea. I love sailing. One of my dreams is, maybe coming out of COVID, you know, maybe hopefully, with some good financial results from the company, to be in a position to, hopefully, one day purchase a small yacht, as a sailing boat. I don’t like Motorboats, I think there are a waste on the environment, but that’s another story. Potentially work from the boats will sail across the Mediterranean and could be in Spain within four days. So there’s a conference from Siinda for example in Mallorca I could be there four days with my own boat.
Q. What was one of the first jobs you had?
Well Yellow pages in Malta we are, the difference to the majority of the members is that we are a family-owned business. So our family has been in this industry for over 30 years now so I would say from being in my mother’s womb I was aware of Yellow Pages, so I’ve always been in the industry.
When I started working, I had my best job when I was, I believe, 14 or 13 and I was actually involved in distribution directories. So, I was what you call a runner. I used to collect these books and distribute them across the island. Every September, I did it for four years in a row during my teenage years while I was a university student. So that was a great experience. You know in the September sun distributing the book, picking up, doing a recycling program. So that was my first job, distributing Yellow Pages directories.
Q. If you didn’t have this family tie to the Yellow Pages and you could pick any other profession in the world, what would you want to do?
Yacht Captain or Cargo Ship Captain. It’s a very good job, it is a leadership position so I’ve always been a bit predisposed to leadership positions but I do believe that’s something I would have definitely liked if I wasn’t in the Yellow business. That was my dream when I was much younger, Yacht Captain, Cargo Ship Captain wherever the sea takes me. I was very interested in maybe going into the maybe even potentially a stockbroker, things like that.
Q. Do you have a special cuisine or comfort food that you like?
I just love Mediterranean cooking and anything Mediterranean. Pasta, pizza, obviously fish, fish all sale. I love fish and seafood. It doesn’t get better than that fish seafood. Mussels, calamari, squid, octopus. In terms of comfort food, I’m not a huge fan of burgers, and hotdogs, I would say American-style food. I love rabbits, in Malta, we cook rabbits, it’s a national delicacy and extremely tasty food. In Malta we have a traditional dish, called “Kusksu” soup. It’s an Eastern-style dish because Malta is an extreme Roman Catholic nation, so this dish is essentially cooked on Good Friday. It’s a vegetarian dish and it contains tomato sauce pasta with broad beans. So yes, it’s one of my favorite dishes. It is generally only cooked at home. So you don’t really find it on the menu at the restaurant.
Q. If you had a message for your colleagues and other Siinda members, what would that message be?
I would say that we are at a turning point in our industry. I believe there’s one thing that Coronavirus has shown us is the importance of digital products. Now, we’ve been evangelists of digital products for many years, internally within the conference. But we need to take that one step further and make sure that our markets really understand, and I believe they are understanding. So it’s actually a message of optimism.
I would say I’m extremely optimistic about the future as an industry has our connection with local SMBs, even with the larger businesses. We have brand values and experience in advertising that these new digital marketing companies just don’t have. We have a reach, we have a Salesforce and we have extensive experience within the sector. It is a growing market, a growing industry, demand for digital products would only increase.
Now, the thing is, one major issue, threat and opportunity at the same time is that Google is always changing, Facebook’s always changing, we have to always try to find ways to work around them. But we’re finding it’s hard to keep up. Can you imagine how it is for SMBs? So that is why we should really position ourselves as committed to the business community to be the translators of another increasingly ever-changing landscape.