Spotlight on…Andrew Farrugia
I am Andrew Farrugia, a 31-year old Certified Public Accountant graduated in B. Accountancy (Hons) from the University of Malta in 2007. Upon completing University, I joined PwC in Malta, working in audit for 3 years. In 2010 I moved to Grand Harbour Marina p.l.c. After 2 years as an accountant, I was promoted to CFO, a role which I held for 3 years, until September 2015.
Sport has always been the passion of my life, with athletics and fitness playing a major role. I remember myself as a kid running wherever my feet took me. When I was 7, my parents enrolled me in the athletics club of Athleta Pembroke, where I grew up as a competitive sprinter until the age of 24. Due to a number of recurring sports-related injuries in my late teens and early twenties, I was forced to quit athletics, at which point I shifted my training sessions from the Marsa track to the gym, an environment which I had already grown fond of during my latter years as a sprinter.
Through my competitive years in sport, I achieved successful milestones, becoming national champion in the 100 metres in the Cadets, Youths and Juniors age categories, eventually making the 4x100m senior national team. Along with my national titles in athletics, I also had the honour of representing Malta in a number of international competitions. A few months after my move from athletics to fitness, I ventured into bodybuilding contests, obtaining ever better results which found their culmination in 2014 and 2015 when for two consecutive years I was national Men’s Physique champion (short class) at the IFBB National Championships and went on to place in the top 10 at the IFBB European Championships.
Another blessing I am grateful for is being chosen by the Malta Olympic Committee as an anti-doping ambassador for Malta in an EU-funded project on doping prevention among youth. I have always embraced the values of fair and clean sport, and ever since I learned the bitter truth about doping in my early teens, I have openly shared my opposition to it. Being able to do so at an official level is something which I take pride in, especially nowadays, where doping appears to have become a common shortcut for amateur athletes and youths alike.
Through sport I also fell in love with travelling, as it gave me the opportunity to discover new countries and cultures while competing internationally. Travelling became my second passion. I realised that the world in its diversity and beauty was calling me to keep discovering it. Yes, Malta was just one tiny beautiful spot amongst a host of other amazingly beautiful places, all inspiring in their own unique way, all with a different lesson to teach us. While travelling I also realised how unhealthy the Maltese lifestyle is when compared to some other nations. I slowly started to cultivate a certain grudge against our archaic mentality regarding food and sports. I certainly wasn’t proud of this, and, being patriotic, I wanted to somehow set a new trend in my country. Idealistic and naive? Perhaps, but I saw this as my life’s mission.
To this effect, after having been inspired and helped by a secondary school friend and online entrepreneur, Jean Galea, in December 2013 launched mirrorfriendly.com, a blog through which I daily share my journey on a lifestyle of fitness and healthy living with the hope of making a difference, regardless of how big or small it would be. Through blogging I also wanted to break a couple of stereotypes in our society, such as the overweight accountant and the typical juiced-up bodybuilder.
In the meantime, my career in finance was prospering. My 3 years in audit, even though not fit for my persona, served as a useful foundation and stepping stone for moving into industry. At the marina I found myself way more at ease due to the nature of the job, environment, colleagues, superiors and salary. For the first time since I started working, I had found my comfort zone.
This, however, did not obscure the question mark hovering over my head, as I had juggled between sports and accountancy ever since I started University. Did I want to grow old without having truly lived the two biggest passions of my life – sport and travelling – for the sake of comfort and money? On the other hand, was it worth giving up such a prestigious job and stability to fulfill my dream?
By virtue of my professional career thus far, I had further developed personal skills such as the disciplined organisation of my schedule, time management, facility with numbers and financials, writing and communication. It also provided me with an opportunity to learn from top entrepreneurs and professionals, particularly the marina Board of Directors. Moreover, the profession boosted my confidence in facing critical decisions, just like the one that had been begging for closure through the years.
I wanted to get qualified in fitness, to recapture the energy of those days when I was a student and, moreover, to experience all of this somewhere where sports and healthy living were a top priority while enjoying a different kind of travel than the usual short-lived trips in keeping with the nature of our jobs.
Following an inordinate internal battle and a few meaningful discussions with my trusted circle of family and friends about my dilemma, I took a leap of faith and, together with my girlfriend Martina – who happens to be a qualified nutritionist and my right hand on the blog – we flew off to Melbourne, where we have been studying fitness, experiencing city life and exploring the spectacular beauty of Australia. In the meantime we have set up shop through our blog, whereby we offer online personalised coaching on training and nutrition.
It has now been 7 months living in the city voted as the “world’s most liveable” for the last five consecutive years, and it has definitely lived up to our expectations. In a few weeks’ time, I will finally be stamping my career in sports with a reputable personal training qualification, hence drawing the curtain on the first part from this trip of a lifetime. The second part will kick off in May, when we depart for New Zealand, where we will be exploring in a camper van for 3 weeks before returning to Australia to spend a couple of weeks in Queensland. From there we will then take a flight to Bali in Indonesia, our first Asian leg on a country-hopping tour around South East Asia.
“Life is too short to leave your dreams unrealised, once you’ve discerned that they are good and wholesome. We only have one round. This is not a dress rehearsal. This is it.”
Even though the past few months have presented some tough challenges, I haven’t had one moment of regret. If there were ever any doubt, this experience confirms that sport and travelling are extremely valuable in the school of life. Living away from home has given me the opportunity to develop new skill-sets and expose myself to different standards, cultures and mentalities. It has somewhat also unlocked a stream of new ideas and opportunities which expand my horizon. While I do not rule out returning to the accountancy profession, I can now have peace of mind, knowing that I’ve done my part to try and resolve my burning question mark… and so far, so good.