HER EARLY DAYS IN THE BUSINESS WORLD
DIRECTOR OF ROCS GROUP, RACHEL VELLA IS THE DRIVING FORCE behind this family company that boasts over forty years legacy of success and a strong business ethic.
Rachel’s first brush with the world of business happened at a very young age, when she would spend every summer taking an active role in the running of her father’s restaurant. Charles Vella was already a prominent businessman at this time, with a very hands-on mindset that he passed on to his daughter.
It was in these early days at the family restaurant that Rachel learnt how to implement the famous ROCS Group work ethic, through her father’s ethos where, despite her age, Rachel strived to shoulder the same responsibilities as hired staff – and more.
This modus operandi was to pave the way for a life-long successful work tradition that is the basis of the Group’s success and of the high regard in which the Group is held, whether by clients, by business partners and even by competitors.
Before deciding to focus on the family business on a full-time basis, Rachel did a five year stint as a physical education teacher. Even here, those qualities that her parents had always fostered in her were immediately evident. During her years as teacher, she revolutionized the entire structure of the lessons, taking a more hands-on approach than was customary and fast becoming a favourite with the students. She even took on the added burden of extra-curricular lessons when asked to do so by the Education Department, offering a number of lessons after hours.
But it wasn’t too long before the pull of the family business started getting too strong to ignore. In 1994 ROCS opened an insurance and investment company, and Rachel began her official foray into entrepreneurship. The service subsidiary became an overnight success, producing enough business on behalf of Middle Sea Valletta (today MSVLife), the primary life assurance provider, that the company recently announced ROCS their all time Top Sales Intermediary. This has been a recurring theme throughout the relationship between the ROCS Group and MSVLife and Middlesea Insurance, which is even stronger today. Despite recent challenges in the global economic climate, the ROCS Group remains the highest producing partner to MSVLife.
NO ISLAND COULD CONTAIN RACHEL
Her next business decision involved turning her love of travel into a successful and highly achieving venture. Fresh from the success of ROCS in the insurance and investments sector, she harnessed this momentum and a travel division was born. Created in 1997, the mandate of this subsidiary was – and remains – to offer the most affordable service to the general public and to reach across the globe.
This mandate fostered much goodwill and renown, turning ROCS Travel into the leading leisure sales travel company in the Maltese islands. Through hard work and great strategy, Rachel has managed to retain 80% of local travel market share to Cyprus, and Dubai together with a dominant position in all outbound travel to Disneyland Paris, Australia, the Indian Ocean and most of the Emirates destinations.
Thanks to Rachel’s winning strategy it was not long before the award winning Emirates Airline from Dubai proclaimed ROCS Travel as its Top Passenger Sales Agent in Malta. ROCS Travel has secured this award year after year, never giving up its top position since the airline launched its route to Malta some eighteen years ago.
This distinction was not enough and recently ROCS Travel received another honour, with IATA figures confirming the company as the leading leisure tour operator in Malta.
The Tista Tkun Int Days
THE LAUNCH OF ROCS MEDIA
With Rachel’s growing reputation there was only one place left to turn. In 2000, ROCS Group founded Timeline Entertainment, later rebranded as ROCS Media – the media arm of ROCS. Ostensibly this was intended to operate as an in-house marketing and production house but as always Rachel found a way to turn a simple tool into a powerful machine. The goal behind Timeline Entertainment was at first perceived as a folly by sceptics: through the subsidiary, Rachel intended to take a dead television time slot on a Sunday morning and transform it into a popular, well-followed programme. As the Public Broadcasting Services Management shook their heads, giving the operation six months before succumbing to market constraints, Tista’ Tkun Int! was launched. It ran for seven years; sceptics had failed to take Rachel’s determination and acumen into account.
The unstoppable show was an immediate and a staggering success that broke every possible record in Maltese broadcasting. The show was geared to be a feel-good family studio programme with plenty of giveaways presented by Rachel herself. Rachel soon became the darling of Maltese television, voted Most Popular Female Presenter for five years in a row. Tista’ Tkun Int! broke local broadcasting records in many ways. It was the first to offer grand scale prizes to the Maltese audience, prizes that included luxury cars, apartments and first class holidays. It was the first show to truly offer help to the needy and to draw attention to their plight. It was the first show to crack almost every record in local television – achieving an average 113,000 viewers on a morning slot and – quoting Profs. Mario Vassallo, who at the time was responsible of conducting the Broadcasting Authority Surveys – “ Tista’ Tkun Int! is a phenomenon in International TV viewership trends”.
In any given episode Rachel was bombarded with more calls than the local Eurovision voting spree. The show’s strong CSR pitch (among those to benefit were children, the sick and the socially under privileged) was hugely appreciated by the Maltese and to date Rachel remains the unofficial queen of hearts for many. Her work within the community – especially in her hometown of Mellieha – was noted and admired by all and even earnt her the coveted Ġieħ il-Mellieħa Award in February 2007.
The programme garnered international reputation and accolades poured in from all quarters. Thanks to her work in the community, Rachel was chosen by Mercedes-Benz International to represent Malta in a worldwide campaign. Only one personality was to be chosen from every country and Rachel represented Malta in Milan. The event was a glitterati bonanza, packed to the rafters with A-list celebrities, many of whom had already met Rachel before through guest appearances on Tistà Tkun Int! But no matter how many celebrities she met – from singers like Al Bano, to every single celebrity footballer, David Beckham, Ronaldo, Fabio Cannavaro, Pope John Paul II and a multitude of divas – Rachel remained focused on the twofold task of maintaining a successful operation while offering a ray of hope to the less fortunate.
Despite all the accolades and the incredible advertising revenue (the show counted all of Malta’s top brands as advertising client, with no exception – a feat never since achieved by any other television show) Rachel soon felt that it was time to explore new pastures. In 2007, when the show was at the peak of its success, the decision was taken to bring Tista’ Tkun Int! to its closing chapter. Seven years on it remains a legend in local media.
SHE MADE RED MALTA’S FAVOURITE COLOUR
TOWARDS THE END OF 2007 RACHEL UNDERTOOK THE TASK of consolidating the numerous business enterprises that were under her wing into one venture: this re- branding resulted in the official birth of ROCS Group, transforming a conglomeration of successful companies – that were all spearheaded by Rachel herself – into one massive and powerful group of companies. ROCS Group established their headquarters in Floriana, where the red corporate colour and logo that is now synonymous with Rachel herself welcomes visitors on their way to the capital. 2007 was also the year when the world slid into a global recession; instead of taking a step backwards, Rachel faced the issue head-on and her strategy yet again turned out to be a winner.
INGLOT – A SUCCESS STORY
BY 2008 RACHEL HAD SET HER EYES ON A NEW MARKET – cosmetics and beauty products. After considerable market research, she approached INGLOT Cosmetics with the proposal of opening up ROCS Retail arm in Malta. The island’s small population and heavy competition were not inviting to international cosmetics magnate Mr INGLOT. The multi-millionnaire Polish franchise owner who created the brand claimed that a small village in Europe would garner better shop traffic. Persistent as always, Rachel promised another success story – and once again delivered. The Malta INGLOT store today boasts one of the highest sales records in all of Europe. By 2012 Rachel had already carried over her unrivalled business formula to post-war Libya where she spearheaded the opening of a branch – within a few weeks all sales records for INGLOT were shattered at this outlet.
Rachel’s venture has been a definite asset to the INGLOT empire, leading to Mr INGLOT not only overcoming his initial scepticism but also insisting that every new country franchise owner should first travel to Malta so as to observe how a proper Inglot shop poperates and get nessessary expereince in Malta thus ensuring that all new stores follow all the right footsteps towards becoming as successful as the INGLOT outlet in Malta. INGLOT Malta is in fact spearheading the global training programme, helping cosmetics professionals from all around the world learn the skills of managing the store, sales techniques and effective marketing campaigns. With INGLOT taking off the ground beautifully, Rachel once again decided to venture into new territory, creating her own branded perfume (My Secret) in 2008.
Again, another first for a local personality to have a personal perfume on the local market.
The next major step came shortly after with the launch of the Perfumes&More brand, a internationally franchise developed and branded in Malta, which includes a collection of perfumes, jewellery and accessories.
ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR
IN 2012, RACHEL WAS AWARDED THE PRESTIGIOUS Entrepreneur of the Year award by one of Malta’s leading business publications, the Economic Update.Another success in a long string of achievements.
Yet, this is only the beginning – as always. Rachel’s vision is for the future and she believes that there is still a lot more that ROCS Group can achieve.
Currently, ROCS Group – through of the subsidiaries – connect with over 70,000 households in Malta. With Rachel enjoying the support of over half the population of the island, the future is as promising as always.
ROCS Retail is steadily gaining ground in its markets of operation. In fact apart from the 3 INGLOT retail outlets operating today in Libya, two Inglot Stores, two Inglot The Studio Salons, and 4 Perfumes & More outlets operating in Malta, in the busiest towns in the North & South of Malta, ROCS Retail will be opening ever more new outlets in the coming years.
ROCS Travel and ROCS Insurance have also had an expansion of another office in the central of Malta, in the busy town of Mosta,
right in the midst of Rotunda square, with the aim of being closer to their esteemed clients.
Rachel firmly believes that the future of ROCS Group lies both locally yet also in overseas expansion as the first steps towards making yet another dream a reality have already been undertaken.
Throughout my professional relationship with Rachel I have always found her to be a very courteous, serious, honest, sharp, forthright and dedicated professional. The qualities that I particularly admire in Rachel are her unrelenting energy, her positive attitude and her constant search for innovation. These qualities have led Rachel to build one of the best known and strongest brands in Malta.
DAVID G CURMI
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
MSV LIFE P.L.C
I have known Rachel for the past 15 years and have always found her to be an accomplished achiever. Rachel is a highly positive person with a vision for opportunities and resilience to achieve projected results. She is a natural team leader encouraging those around her to develop their attributes through professional education and specialized training. During the period I have known her, Rachel has proved to be a highly professional person with utmost integrity.One of her strengths is her appreciation of relaying a transparent communication with the consumers combined with real added value in the services and products on offer. Her focused marketing planning serves her well in achieving her desired results. My knowledge of her abilities was tied to financial services in general insurance and long term business (Life Protection), where she won awards for excellent sales results. Her success also extends to specialised Travel services through her company ROCS.
MARIO C GRECH
MIDDLESEA INSURANCE PLC
1994 – 2009
I have known Rachel for almost fifteen years, since she first kicked off her first business venture. I was already acquainted with her work on television when she first contacted me with a proposal for Emirates to offer 200 seats to Dubai for the Dubai Shopping Festival.
My initial reaction was that this was a joke. I soon realised she was serious and so I recommended that we start off with fifty seats. Rachel had evidently done her homework because within a week she had sold the first fifty seats. Within three weeks she had sold all 200. This was a massive boost for Dubai as a new destination and she is undoubtedly the foremost specialist agent on Dubai on the Maltese market.
I have always known Rachel to be a woman of her word. When she reaches a decision she will make sure that this decision yields its fruit and she consistently amazes me with the amount of energy, time and effort she puts into her business.
Rachel does not carry out this hard work purely out of a financial motivation, but also out of a great sense of social responsibility towards her employees and their families. It is this heart of gold, and not just her extraordinary and proven business acumen that makes her so well-loved and well-respected by clients and by employees.
It is rare that someone who has reached her level of success and popularity keeps their feet so firmly on the ground, without letting the fame go to their head! She is an inspiration to many and I have no doubt that we will hear about many more success stories from this lady.
PAUL FLERI SOLER
EMIRATES AIRLINES MALTA
I have worked with Rachel Vella for the last few years through various companies in which our group has interests. I have always found Rachel to be a highly driven professional, with all the qualities of a successful entrepreneur. She is very passionate about her work and is not afraid to take risks; this is also why every endeavor she undertakes ends up setting the trend for that particular market.
Rachel is definitely one of the most capable and energetic business partners I’ve met during my entire career. The success of her various business ventures speak for themselves. She’s also one of these rare examples how a lady can accomplish it all – and I mean ALL – while being geniune and true to herself. Malta is fortunate to have such a charismatic ambassador.
DIRECTOR OF GLOBAL RETAILS AND LUXURY SALES, EAMA
STARWOOD HOTELS AND RESORTS
Since the very first day I met Rachel, I knew that this young lady was very much able to deliver what most men cannot. Through her strong drive and unparalleled foresight she has managed to build a travel market there where most others would have failed instantly. Definitely one of the most gifted persons I ever met.
SALAMIS TOURS HOLDINGS LTD, CYPRUS
If one looks for a perfect example of turning passion into success in business come to Malta and meet Rachel Vella. From the first encounter I knew that such a professional personality would make a great representative of INGLOT on the island. We did not need to wait long to see the INGLOT store flourishing quickly in the Mediterranean Sea region. Presently, INGLOT Malta is going even further and now serves as a gateway to Northern Africa. Rachel, with your energy, I can’t wait, what’s next?
INGLOT COSMETICS, TOP ENTREPRENEUR POLAND 2012
I have had the opportunity to work with Rachel on several projects over the last ten years. Projects have including the creation and implementation of our companies’ marketing campaign to the design, creation and implementation of the new ROCS Group headquarters in Floriana. Throughout our professional relationship I have witnessed how Rachel dedicates herself in full to the task at hand, motivating the whole team and enabling everyone to remain focused. One aspect that never ceases to amaze me is how Rachel manages to balance her work while respecting all commitments, be it family, career or volunteer work.
CHRIS VASSALLO CESAREO