Keynote Speakers

AIMC 2023 Conference Keynote Speakers

Dr Stuart Beattie, Bangor University, Wales  



ABOUT:  Dr Stuart Beattie is a Senior Lecturer in Performance Psychology at Bangor University in the UK. He works within the Institute for Psychology of Elite Performance in the School of Human and Behavioural Sciences. Stuart's PhD was funded by British Gymnastics where he worked as an applied sport psychologist from 2000-2006. In 2006, Stuart started his academic career at Bangor University. Over the past 17 years, his research and applied work has focussed on aspects of performance under pressure, and protective factors such as mental toughness and resilience. More recently, Stuart has been working with the Youth Justice Services for North Wales designing psychological resilience interventions for YJ case workers to implement in the young people they work with. Stuart recently developed and designed the schools Distance Learning MSc Degree in Performance Psychology recruiting over 100 students in its first three years. Current students (national and international) on this degree range from professions in opera singing, RAF pilots, armed forces, business, sport, NHS, and music (to name a few). 


ABSTRACT:  Mental Toughness, Resilience, and Performance Catastrophes 

It is very likely that at some point in our lives we will witness or indeed experience quite large and sudden catastrophic events. Catastrophes can be regarded as any significant and sudden change in any one variable. For example, one may be able to deal with prolonged periods of stress until reaching what we all know as a breaking point. Once we reach breaking point, changes come about in a quick and dramatic fashion. Something snaps! But when it does, it is often very hard to reverse those effects quickly. Catastrophes are very prevalent in everyday life. For example, catastrophes are often witnessed in sport (e.g., cricket batting collapses), social catastrophes (e.g., ending a friendship), workplace catastrophes (e.g., verbal presentations going wrong, being fired, or terminating your career), personal relationship catastrophes (e.g., a relationship suddenly ending), or wellbeing (e.g., mental breakdown, burnout). No doubt you can think of a few others. Catastrophe models are just that, models. Therefore, you can plug any combining factors in them to predict when a catastrophe on a specific variable may occur.  Hence, the purpose of this presentation is to explore your opinions on what might cause (your own and other) performance catastrophes. How might we prevent them, and what can we do about them when they occur.  



Ms Antoinette Caruana, Farsons Group HR Manager & Company Secretary


Ms.Antoinette Caruana


ABOUT:  Antoinette Caruana MSc (Trg & Dev), BA (Hons), FCIPD, recently retired from the positions of Company Secretary and Group HR Manager of the Farsons’ Group as well as from its Group Executive Board.  She retains board membership of The Brewhouse Co Ltd and Farsons Distribution Co Ltd. Antoinette has held a number of positions in the private sector including the posts of Chief HR Officer of Lufthansa Technik Malta and General Manager, HR of the Brandstaetter Group.  She was also Chief Executive of the newly incorporated government agency, Heritage Malta between 2003 and 2006.  She has specialized in human resource management and development and has also been actively involved in local industrial relations.  Antoinette has consulted with various local organizations and lectured at the Faculty of Economics, Management and Accountancy, University of Malta.  She served as director of the Central Bank of Malta between 2008 and 2013, and currently serves on the Board of Mapfre Middlesea and of Heritage Malta.  Antoinette also serves as director on the Board of the Foundation for the Rehabilitation of Drug Abusers (Caritas Malta).  She also serves as employers’ representative on the Industrial tribunal, was previously a trustee of the Richmond Foundation and a director of the Foundation for Human Resources Development.   She was also chairperson of the Malta Professional and Vocational Qualifications Awards Council, director of the Employment and Training Corporation, and served as a core member of the Malta-EU Steering & Action Committee.  She has addressed and presented papers for international as well as national conferences and contributed to local journals and publications.

ABSTRACT:  The future of work: leadership @ a time of great change

Over the last few years, leaders have been challenged in a way that is unprecedented.  From the sudden shift to remote working to mass resignations, from skills shortages and recruitment challenges to the current cost of living crisis as well as the implications of economic instability and political turmoil, there is little doubt that leaders across organisations have been and are still being challenged across multiple fronts.    This presentation will explore the main transformations taking place in the workplace and within the workforce and the demands being placed upon leaders as a result of these major changes.  There is a call for a different style of leadership to meet the changing expectations of the workforce that have also been greatly impacted by the pandemic.

Whilst key considerations include the areas of flexible and hybrid working, employee wellbeing, diversity, equity and inclusion(DEI), recruitment challenges, the growing focus on employee engagement and digital transformation; there are other trends that have come to the forefront even more recently.  There is a growing focus that is required on enhancing leadership and managerial effectiveness in all organisations; of addressing organisational design and change management; of placing more focus on an improved employee experience; of prioritizing recruitment and retention strategies to attract strong talent that can really support organisations, including academic organisations to achieve their objectives; and in all of this, to be more aware and more explicit in dealing with the demands of the future of work where skills are shifting, talent is scarce, turnover is increasing and shifts in the employee-employer dynamic are evident. 

There is a need to do things differently, to be innovative when coming up with new strategies to deal with the ever-changing world of work.


Prof. Villy Tsakona, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens


Prof Villy Tsakona


ABOUT:  Villy Tsakona in Associate Professor of Social and Educational Approaches to Language in the Department of Early Childhood Education of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece. She received her PhD from the Linguistics Department of the same university (2004) and ever since then she has taught various (socio)linguistics courses in several Greek universities. Her research interests include the sociopragmatic analysis of humorous genres, narrative analysis, media and political discourse analysis, as well as theoretical approaches and applications in the framework of critical literacy. She has published a number of papers in international and Greek journals and conference proceedings, while she has also edited special issues and collective volumes in the above-mentioned research areas (e.g. Tracing the Infiltration of Racist Discourse in Antiracist Discourse: Studies in Liquid Racism [co-edited with Argiris Archakis & Rania Karachaliou, 2023, Pedio Publications, in Greek; Intertextuality and Humor [special issue in the European Journal of Humor Research, co-edited with Jan Chovanec, 2020]; and The Dynamics of Interactional Humor: Creating and Negotiating Humor in Everyday Encounters [co-edited with Jan Chovanec, 2018, John Benjamins]. Recently, she has also authored a monograph on Recontextualizing Humor: Rethinking the Analysis and Teaching of Humor (2020, De Gruyter Mouton) and co-authored The Narrative Construction of Identities in Critical Education (with Argiris Archakis, 2012, Palgrave Macmillan). She is co-editor of the European Journal of Humor Research.

Personal webpage:


ABSTRACT:  Laughing about the pandemic: How could humor research account for internet memes about COVID-19?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the most popular ways of commenting on the unusual situations and events that took place was humor. Speakers seemed to perceive and represent as humorous various effects of the pandemic on their lives, social relationships, and political affairs. Such humor was most common in the social media in the form of internet memes (Sebba-Elran 2021, Tsakona 2021). The presentation will concentrate on how and why humor was created and disseminated online during the pandemic, namely on the semiotic particularities and social functions of humorous memes. The analysis of an extensive dataset reveals that meme creators combine visual and verbal features to frame the preventive measures enforced and the respective sociopolitical changes as incongruous (on incongruity as the basis for humor, see Attardo 2020). They aim not only to entertain themselves and their addressees, but also to criticize political decisions and those responsible for them, as well as to cope with the negative feelings they experience due to lockdowns and other preventive measures.

Attardo, S. 2020. The Linguistics of Humor: An Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Sebba-Elran, T. 2021. A pandemic of jokes? The Israeli COVID-19 meme and the construction of a collective response to risk. Humor: International Journal of Humor Research 34 (2), 229-257.

Tsakona, V. 2021. The humorous rewriting of Orwell’s 1984: The Greek version. European Journal of Humor Research 9 (4), 58-73.



Prof. Sandro Lanfranco, University of Malta



Prof. Irene Sciriha, University of Malta