Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

Souad Elmallem – Bringing Canada’s aircraft expertise to Morocco

Written by Frédéric Dubessy on Monday, November 23rd 2020 à 09:47 | Read 667 times

A member of the Moroccan diaspora in North America, Souad Elmallem managed to convince her bosses to set up Bombardier’s first African venture in her home country.

Souad Elmallem has promoted Bombardier's presence in Canada (photo : DR)
Souad Elmallem has promoted Bombardier's presence in Canada (photo : DR)
In 2006, I was present at the inauguration of Bombardier’s plant in Mexico, and I thought ‘Why not Morocco?’” recalls Souad Elmallem. Then head of strategy and international business for Africa, Elmallem started “analysing the feasibility of such a project and Bombardier’s strategic positioning on the world’s international aeronautics chessboard, as well as its value chain”, she reveals. In 2008, the Moroccan from the Quebec diaspora decided to visit a number of manufacturers in Casablanca. “I needed to corroborate my ambition,” she says. “That is to say, to replace the sentimental with the factual. During that trip, I realized the unbelievable potential that existed in my country and changed up several gears by actively campaigning within Bombardier.”

It was a tough task. “It was a long journey, full of obstacles stemming from a lack of knowledge of Morocco and of its capabilities in the field. A classic case where North American companies are concerned,” stresses Souad Elmallem. Slowly but surely, the young woman moved her pieces forward. “The first thing was to get Morocco recognized as a potential strategic destination in the global industrialization strategy,” she explains. Then, she had to “convince, one by one, the Bombardier executives” who didn’t believe world-class manufacturing could exist in Morocco.

In September 2013, management representatives cut the ribbon at the first Bombardier factory on the African Continent at Nouaceur, 30km south of Casablanca, the first seed of what was to become the Midparc free zone’s aerospace cluster, which today represents 140 companies, 17,500 jobs and a turnover of $2bn.

“The diaspora has a crucial role to play”

"The motivation of the Moroccan in me was an essential driving force in being able to transform this mere idea into a major project, despite all the setbacks, rejections and disbelief,” she recalls. “My close links with the country enabled a strong and efficient link to be built between Canada and Morocco. It has led to the development of a close network of business contacts and friends”, underlines Elmallem, who also points to another asset in her “detailed and factual knowledge of the country, regularly updated, used to showcase Morocco as a destination.

After leaving Bombardier, Souad Elmallem has gone on to capitalise on her success, opening her own company, 6temik, in September 2015. Offering a wide range of services, she now provides North American companies setting up or expanding in Morocco with assistance in defining internationalisation strategy, business plans and investment portfolios. 6temik has already completed work on three major projects in the country (two others are due to be completed in a year’s time), with the creation of more than a thousand direct jobs.

The diaspora has a crucial role to play” insists Elmallem. “It needs to highlight and draw upon its expertise and use its ability to give momentum to concrete, suitable, structuring and long-term initiatives.

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