From its humble beginnings as a small retail travel firm, in 1998, to its evolution into the powerhouse conglomerate of companies it is today, KDM Group – founded by Kenneth De Martino – has solidified its reputation across a range of industries from tourism and aviation to security, mobility and parking. And, now, as Steffi De Martino gains the reigns, as the Group’s new CEO, she is ready to continue this legacy – and build upon it.
“Let me start by saying that it is a privilege to lead such a successful and diverse group of companies and I am excited to write the next chapter,” she smiles, immediately asserting that her drive for the future remains focused on the staff and stakeholders which have formed and supported the company over the years. These include 2,000 people working across the Group’s five firms: G4S (security); Aviaserve (aviation); FCM Travel (tourism); Whizascoot (transport); ctPark (parking faciltiies); and Martinu Homes (real estate).
“As a Group we have always been focused on our people especially since we are service oriented and strongly believe that we need to nurture the people who make the organisation thrive. Therefore one of my initial priorities as I take over this new role is definitely to get closer to our people and spend enough time on ‘the shop floor’ to understand and provide support where necessary,” she explains.
This approach is central to the Group’s ethos, she adds. “It’s fundamental for the Group that we create an environment for personal growth, encourage creativity and try to unlock individuals’ maximum potential. I believe that building strong relationships is the key to success and will definitely be on my agenda.”
Steffi is well-prepared for such a challenge, boasting years of experience at the firm, where she started as Business Development Manager at ctPark and Whizascoot. “During my time there, I was focused on formulating strategies for growth within the organization. I immediately jumped into the launch of Whizascoot, which is the scooter sharing business, and, a few months later, bid for electric charging stations which was then successfully awarded to ctPark. This now operates as a sole company under the ctCharge brand.”
After two years, the entrepreneur moved to the Group offices where she began to get involved in its top level management, across the diverse companies in KDM’s portfolio, acquired through a series of well-considered investments across the years.
“Each company operates independently with their own management structure, and, therefore, at KDM level, we get involved with financial and strategic business management. We ensure that we provide the space for everyone to work but will offer support when needed.” Keen to continue innovating, even whilst involved in high-level decisions, across the diverse sectors, Steffi launched the Martinu Homes brand, which currently operates over 20 properties for short and long lets across the Maltese islands.
Despite Steffi’s drive to push the envelope, she is committed to ensuring the firm’s heritage is retained. “At the very least, I want to maintain everything my father has built,” she says, insisting that “at the most I want to triple that.” She feels fortunate in having had her father’s mentorship over the years.
“I’m very lucky and privileged to be working side by side with Kenneth as the success of the Group is proof of his capabilities and expertise and there is no better learning curve then getting your hands dirty with a strong support system. As he provides the space for the second generation to take over the business, myself, as well as all our partners, are sure that he will be around to guide the second generation into the future growth of the group.”
Indeed, she continues, “amidst his busy days and involvement in the individual companies, Kenneth has always been focused on good corporate governance and succession planning within the KDM Group. The Group is now focusing on passing over to the next generation whereby I will be taking over the CEO role whilst Kenneth retains the chairmanship role within the Group.”
All four siblings stand ready to take up more responsibility in the organisation. “This has been done by design as Kenneth looks to slow down and provide the space for the next generation to take over. My sisters are also directors in the company and will be taking up more active roles within the organisation in the coming years.”
Looking ahead, Steffi asserts that “there are some exciting discussions going on for the Group at the moment”, as “the Group will continue to develop and invest in businesses that can deliver exceptional service to our clients and offer value to all stakeholders.”