A Kedger has been appointed President of the Bureau...
Zoom on Najwa El Iraki, an extraordinary graduate who has been listed as one of the 60 most influential women in Africa in 2016 in "New African Woman Magazine", and in 2019, became an Alumni of the International Visitor Leadership Program, US government's Elite Programme for women entrepreneurs and was counted among the young economic leaders of tomorrow by Choiseul Africa/Forbes Africa. Najwa speaks English, French, Arabic, and Spanish.
1️⃣ Tell us what you did after your studies were finished. What positions have you held? What did you learn in those positions?
While I was getting a degree specialising in corporate finance at KEDGE, I studied in Aston Business School in England. This gave me the opportunity to get an internship at KPMG Birmingham, which led to being recruited at KPMG London in corporate tax and financial structuring. I then continued to study at KPMG Business School for my UK Chartered Accountancy diploma, which I obtained in 2008. After that, I worked in investment banking in London for Lehman Brothers and Nomura, then got a position as a Senior Manager in Financial Services at Mazars London. In 2011, I returned to Morocco, and for six years I managed the business development activities of Casablanca Finance City Authority. Casablanca Finance City Authority is a public-private organisation aiming at positioning Casablanca as a pan-African financial centre. In 2016, I became a certificate holder of a leadership program at Harvard Business School. In 2017, I decided to create AfricaDev Consulting Ltd, a company that provides advice and support to international and regional companies in their African development. As part of this, I am the MD NW Africa of Opportunity Network, a global digital platform that connects CEOs from around the world for business opportunities. I'm also the General Representative of Lloyd's of London in French-speaking Africa, the world's specialist insurance market.
Finally, I'm also either an active member of, or co-founder of, several associations, including the Africa Expert Network, Al-Sahm Women, CasaExpats, Women Working for Change of the Africa CEO Forum..
2️⃣ What are you doing/what is your situation today? What gave you the idea and why do you want to do what are you doing today?
I was lucky to have very varied experiences in several countries, both for well-known multinationals and as part of innovative and unique projects which provided me with the right technical skills as well as soft skills and an entrepreneurial spirit. To date, I have about fifteen years of experience in the financial services industry in the EMEA region, as well as solid experience in financial consulting, strategy and business development, tax, and restructuring. The idea of doing what I am doing today comes from being able to use this experience in an entrepreneurial context. When I was working for the Casablanca Finance City project, I felt that there was a gap in Africa in business development and I wanted to fill this gap through a solid structure, which brings not only confidence but provides investors with a structured approach.
3️⃣ What are your business goals for the future?
My objectives are to 1) consolidate AfricaDev Consulting's involvement in certain African countries (Morocco, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, and Ethiopia); 2) to bring added value to European, American, and Asian companies/investors interested in those countries; and 3) assist African SMEs who need financing / fundraising for their expansion (PE / M&A) and restructuring plans. It is understandable that there is an increasing demand for this today. We work with several experts, senior advisors, and consultants who are based in London, Madrid, Dubai and Washington DC. We also have partner relays in the aforementioned African countries. We are attentive to companies and investors who would like to explore with us areas of collaboration or investment.
4️⃣ How did your education at KEDGE Business School help you become who you are today, and which of its courses helped you develop your project?
Beyond the technical skills I acquired at KEDGE in finance, marketing, and business management, I learned to have confidence in myself. I also had unique teachers. In particular, I remember Mr. Olivier Pelazza, Business Strategy Professor. I was delighted to be able to work on the Helm Group (D3 Chimie) strategy and business plan from my first year of studies, which won me the Golden Mission award. As a result, I was ranked in the top 5%, which gave me the marks necessary to continue my studies at Aston Business School, with which the school had an agreement. I was actually given the opportunity to attend several exchange programmes around the world, including in Australia and Canada. The continuation of my professional career was a direct consequence of this decision, so I am very grateful to KEDGE Business School !
5️⃣ If you were to give advice to KEDGE Alumni who would you like to do something similar, what would it be?
First I wanna say that despite this period of crisis due to Covid-19, I'm ready to recruit student interns from KEDGE Business School. As for advice, I'd say that you have to always be resilient, but you also have to do what you are passionate about. Personally, business development and networking have always been my passion, that it became my professional life.