Advisory Board

The DIFME partners would like to thank all the Advisory Board members for their feedback and critical review of the DIFME learning tools. Their focused input and contribution has helped maximize DIFME’s success.


Prof. Russell Smith

Prof. Russell Smith began his career in business by starting a software company, whilst still studying for his PhD (RAF and King's College, London) in the 1980s. Products from that company sold in 27 countries. In 1985 he joined the pharmaceutical industry, running international drug-development programmes in North America, Europe and Japan finally leading a team of more than 100 staff. For the last twenty years Russell has specialised in the commercialisation of IP arising from academic research and the teaching & development of student entrepreneurship resulting in the development of the Incumatrixâ„¢ system of entrepreneurship. In 1999, Russell co-founded Avidex Ltd, a spin-out company from the University of Oxford and, as Managing Director, raised £1.7m in their first year of operations. Russell left Avidex in December 2000 (after the successful completion of a £10m finance round that valued the company at £25m) to take over Prolysis Ltd, another University of Oxford spin-out. During his time at Prolysis he raised over £5m of venture capital. In November 2004 Russell became Chairman of Surface Therapeutics Ltd, his third University of Oxford spin-out, leading a finance round that raised £1.5m of venture capital. All three companies have now been sold.

Russell has worked to inspire student entrepreneurship since 1999. Since 2008, Russell led an annual two-day Doctoral Entrepreneurship Workshop for final-year PhD students from Warwick University and Imperial College Russell wrote a monthly page on business, from 2004 to 2010, for ”The Independent” and his book “How to Start a Successful Business” was published in 2007 and has been reissued with two further editions. He is an award-winning speaker and his invited lecture tours include Spain, Cyprus, Iceland, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Italy, Russia and Malta.In 2010, he was invited by the National Council for Student Entrepreneurship to deliver its entrepreneurship training programmes.

In 2012 Her Majesty, The Queen was graciously pleased to approve the Prime Minister's recommendation that he should receive the Queen's Award for Enterprise Promotion.

Karl Grech

Karl Grech is a Performance Coach & Leadership Trainer for CEOs, Managers, and ambitious individuals. He helps clients enhance leadership & interpersonal skills and grow their confidence by supporting them through coaching.

As a trainer and coach for over 10 years, Karl has facilitated training in Malta and overseas (UK, Denmark, and Sweden) for team members at all levels from operational through to Heads of Departments and Senior Managers. Amongst his various interests, he specialises in leadership, coaching skills, communication, customer service, and train-the-trainer. Karl is a member of the International Coaching Federation (ICF), trained in PRISM brain-mapping tools as well as the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® methodology. Before becoming a full-time coach, he held various positions at both operational as well as leadership levels within the hospitality, manufacturing, fin-tech industries as well as the Malta Tourism Authority. Karl believes in the concept of learning by doing, having gained extensive experience through volunteering for the Junior Chamber International (JCI) Malta occupying various posts including National President in 2010 as well as Director to host the 2014 JCI European Conference in Malta (1,300 delegates).

Paula Calamatta

Paula Calamatta is a Director on the Board of TradeMalta an entity tasked with assisting Malta based companies to gain access to new export markets. Ms Calamatta is a consultant on EU, trade, agri-food, SPS and animal welfare. Ms Calamatta holds an MBA from Morehead State University in the US. Ms. Calamatta has extensive international experience garnered over the last 26 years. For ten years Ms Calamatta worked with Malta Enterprise assisting foreign direct investment companies set up in Malta. During this time Ms Calamatta established the Malta Enterprise office in Washington DC and ran it for four years.

Ms Calamatta was posted to Brussels for thirteen years as a diplomat negotiating EU legislation in various EU fora and was instrumental in leading and training a team for the Maltese Presidency of the European Council (2017).

Dean Micallef

Dean Micallef is a Certified Public Accountant, Fellow within the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, sits on several boards and holds a master’s degree in Financial Services through the University of Malta.

Dean started his career as a financial auditor with Deloitte in Malta .Following 9 years with Deloitte, Dean joined a long-standing diverse group of companies as group CFO. From 2016 Dean assumed the role of Managing Director within Firstbridge Services Limited, a professional advisory firm, providing a range of financial services to an array of businesses and organisations.

Dean is Founder of Pitchora and Basement2Boardroom. Pitchora is a start-up competition, designed to provide a platform and an opportunity to creative, innovative and disruptive start-ups to compete for access to an exclusive start-up incubator, seed-funding, access to premium business players and networks, and other forms of monetary and non-monetary professional support, and Basement2Boardroom is a start-up support programme designed to catapult start-ups through the initial phases of their corporate and business journey.