Episode 19 Transcript

You're listening to the business in Morocco podcast the
podcast that discusses all things
business and all things Morocco my name
is Ryan Maimone I'm here with my co-host
Ryan Kirk and our goal is to share our
knowledge and experiences with you in order to help you gain wisdom skills and
habits that can help you succeed in
business and in life you can learn more
about us by going to our website moroccopodcast.com alright let's get started
with today's episode it's gonna be a
lovely day.
I'm here at London Academy in Casablanca and
with Dr. Benmakhlouf and he's gonna
share some of his journey in
entrepreneurship and the corporate world
and his thoughts on education in Morocco
and the importance of English and some
tips for you as you begin your career in
your life yeah so I wanted to
start by talking a little bit about
your career and the steps you took and
learning about your motivations so you
studied and worked in the u.s. you
were there for 13 years but then you
moved to the Middle East and you took a
job in Bahrain. After studying from bachelors all the
way to PhD in the United States I worked
in the industry for a few years and I
joined Microsoft to be responsible for
the channel partners in northwest Africa
based out of Morocco and after that I
was appointed as the general manager in
Algeria which we started Microsoft
activity 2001 and later did the same
thing started up Microsoft in Bahrain
and lived there for almost four years
and left Microsoft to do some entrepreneurship, in the real estate and
franchising business and even as a
soccer school I bought the franchise of
Arsenal Soccer School and 2011 I had a
call back from Microsoft and rejoined
Microsoft where I was the general manager of Microsoft in
Morocco and after that I spent a year my
last year was in Dubai I was responsible
worldwide for connectivity solutions
meaning that we want Microsoft want to
connect the unconnected world and left
Microsoft to start a school. Ok so now I'm
running a school and a proud founder of
a smart school that's great
after living in the States for so long
what was it that led you to move back to
Morocco come back to this area well
every Moroccans got a family attachment
to his country I believe that we have a
land of opportunity, it's green, and there's
so many things to do we can choose any
sector and there's plenty of things to
do so I was at the time where I was
either going to because I was like at
the beginning of my career either I come
back to Morocco or I stay forever in the
US you know once you start your life in
the US and you get your first mortgage
and it gets your career going it's very
very difficult to step back so I said ok
I'm going to try it out go to Morocco
and I think the soft landing with the
multinational helped a lot working with
Microsoft which is one of the leaders in
the world it created that semi-environment of being in an American
work environment and being in Morocco so
for me it was the best of both worlds
right right for a young person that's
considering staying in Morocco or
studying abroad what advice would you
share you must have a passage abroad you
must do it ok besides getting a degree
I believe living abroad gives you an
experience and gives you the
independence, gives you the autonomy gives
you that self-evaluation that is totally
independent of your natural cultural
environments where you grow up in so I
say that's by being in the u.s. I got
two degrees obviously my academic degree
and a life degree living abroad is very
important and besides the fact that
you meet so many nationalities you meet
so many other cultures it just opens up
your mind to the world okay so you
would advise people, if you have the
opportunity, study work abroad gain and
then you can return and correct correct
at least a passage abroad I mean if you
cannot afford to study your whole degree
abroad either take a sabbatical or try
to get some kind of partnership between
your school and other schools and at
least pass a year, spend a year in another
country you will gain so much yeah so
you were well established in a corporate
career what prompted you to become an
entrepreneur I did it twice yeah I left
Microsoft in 2006 and 2017
yeah you either have a mindset of
entrepreneur or you don't even when I
worked in Microsoft, having been a
Business Development Manager and going into
countries and starting up Microsoft from
scratch that was intrapreneurship within
Microsoft yeah so I always had that
strength of starting where no one could
start and developing something from
scratch to making it mature so I was not
afraid both times to jump into the
Entrepreneurship world and I strongly
believe that I made the right choice
because education is not only a business
but it is a cause when you transform
students when you take young people and
you give them the good preparation in
life it is more than a business it's a
cause. You started a business in real estate as a
football club and then now a school how
do you identify opportunities in new
industries there are three criterias
that I look in when I choose a business
or entrepreneurship one is the brand
yeah okay so when I chose century 21 in
real estate it's a world wide known
brand right
Arsenal Soccer School that's a well
known brand yeah
London Academy I created the brand
sounds like a brand yes so yeah it's
there is what we call the virtual capital yeah okay so I think
I got the attention of the people by the
brand that's one number two it has to be
a cause it has to be something that I
can promote that I can put my name
behind that I can really make it
happen
and it's gonna have an impact beyond the
business side okay so when I look at
Century 21 and we brought the franchise
business of real estate brokers it just
I contributed to making such an impact
on real estate and some of the practices
we introduced in Morocco have become
standards really and so I think that was
a good impact on my country. London
Academy with the educational parts it's
very impactful on a lot of persons and
a lot of students and even their
families. the number three criteria
is making good money I mean it is
something that I consider essential but
I can say there's something that every
person needs so for example we talk
about real estate at least once every 20
years of your life you need to make a
transaction in real estate or every five
years gonna rent a place so it's an
essential business. This is not
something that
on a luxury site it's a business
that's on everyday basis there is the math.
the same as education
education is much in demand I think it's
40% of the budget of a family goes to
the education of their kids so when
you think about a business I meet a lot
of entrepreneurs and they talk about
things that are not needed it's what I
call the difference between a must-have
and a nice to have right so I always
tell them please think about must-haves
don't think about oh it's nice to have and that's where a lot of
entrepreneurs fail because they tend to
invest a lot on something that is not
necessary so you mentioned the cause of
education and I can tell that education
is something you're very passionate
about what do you think needs to happen
with education here in Morocco and even
beyond that even globally well I can
talk a whole day about this but what is
obvious what needs to happen is we need
to transform education since we are in
the digital era every sector has
changed because of the digital era,
because of the internet, because of the
e-commerce, because of the the way the
customers expectations have changed
except education we still see the same
schools the same walls the same books
the same tables even the same way the
tables are set up in the class are the
same and we are at a time where we are
not anymore
in an teacher-centric education we are
now at the era where we are at student
centric education and the teacher is no
longer the source of the learning the
source of the learning is coming from
different places from a teacher from the
internet from the museums from the
travel that's some of the students when
they travel so from the parents
from TV so all these are sources of
education there is no monopoly where
you're only getting the education once
you step into the classroom and the
teacher is the only one who can deliver
such a class yeah as a matter of fact
now teachers are scared of technology
they're like no leave it at home don't
bring technology to school because as
fast as he can present something the
students who will pull as a research
will do research on a search engine
and get him the answer so that's
it's you know he's complaining it's a
threat and he doesn't understand and the
kids grew up using the Internet and the
other challenge that I see that the
education is facing the students from
the time he leaves school till he comes
back he's constantly connected with
the phone with the tablet and while he's
in school he's not connected and he finds
that very boring so he'll focus no
longer than 10 minutes in a class and
then after that his head is off
somewhere else
so this is something that's very
challenging for the education and I
believe a transformation is necessary
for education it's that connection
is interactive I push a button I get
something I want to watch a video i
watch it during the seven or eight hours
he spends in school there is no
connection and he gets bored and as soon
as he sits in a class after a maximum
ten minutes he cannot concentrate
anymore and that's a problem
now many parents tell me you know
technology it's a problem my kid is
addicted and I say my answer is yes he's
addicted to gaming he's addicted to
games he's addicted to consuming
technology
the school should actually teach
students how to produce technology how
to code how to do research how to
develop maybe videos how to work with the virtual reality such as
3d modeling there's so many things we
can learn using technology that would be
beneficial to that student once he
graduates and want to work so the
problem isn't the technology it's just
being passive and consuming
whereas if you can be active and
creative that's gonna benefit you for
the future exactly a lot of our audience
have already finished high school any
comments about whether or not it's
useful to study in a university or
there's some new schools emerging around Morocco that teach practical skills
such as coding programming and they do
it in a very short time and with a small
budget how would you make that choice if
you were 18 19 years old you just
reminded me I was at l'ecole Mohammedia des Engineers in Rabat and I was a judge
in a entrepreneurship competition and
one of the students asked me he said
when I graduate should I do a startup or
entrepreneurship or should I look for
a job and I asked him I said when do you
think you want to retire and he told me
I want to retire at the age of 35 which
is the dream of a lot of young persons
now to be financially independent at the
age of 30 and I told him I don't know
any job that will guarantee you that you
will be retiring by the age of 35 so
that only leaves entrepreneurship
and I told him that entrepreneurship
does not start should not start when you
graduate with an engineering degree is
to start even before high school you
should think about something you're
passionate about and think how we can
monetize it and make it a business
that's entrepreneurship are you looking
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and start shopping and reading now back
to the show the other side of your
question is should I study for a five year
degree or should I get enough
information in a short period of time
which will allow me to to do something
with it that is independent and rare I
can find easy employments and this is
one of the impacts of the digital world you don't need to study
five years to become a computer engineer
or computer scientist you can actually
reduce it in a very short period of time
you can learn any language of coding in
a matter of three months so the other
side of your question whether to go for
a four or five year degree or get a
short period of time training and
certification yeah very very practical
that is much needed and today you can
get a certification out of studying for
two days and there is much more demand
for this practical trainings that will
yield employments much easier than
coming with a academic degree where
everything is theoretical my first job
when I left the university was thanks to
a software that I learned at the
University it wasn't so much about my
degree it was my practical know-how that
got me my first job okay my second job
in here was the same thing and
that's what got me you know the
attention of the employer because the
employer looks at you as someone who can
bring something additional to the
company no employer wants to employ
someone just to start teaching him how
to do his job
a lot of employers avoid that so if you
have a practical know-how and you have a
certification that goes with it it's
much more valuable to the employer than
a degree that shows that you're an
engineer but in fact you still need to
learn some tools that are actual tools
that you can use in your job yeah the
world's changed so quickly there's a lot
of degrees that are somewhat irrelevant
you can get the degree but it
doesn't mean a whole lot in the real
world what would you say about the
role of English so English is definitely
a minority language here in Morocco but
globally it's very prominent and so what
are your thoughts on that I speak Arabic
I speak French and I speak English I
love my Arabic language and I love my
French language however English today is
more than a language English is a
communication language the whole world
uses to communicate and if we as
Moroccans we just discount ourselves from English then we are discounting
ourselves to be in sync with the whole
world I know there is a lot of
discussion about French and Arabic and
English I say to all the Moroccans
at the minimum you need to learn science
math technology entrepreneurship finance
marketing you need to learn it in
English because if you don't you're not
going to go far if you want to buy
anything around the world the first
reflex is you're going to go to the internet you're going to
search in the internet in Arabic or
French you're not going to find much you
must do it in English as a matter of
fact 80% of the content of the internet
is in English and you add all the
languages all together they don't represent
even 20% of the
internet content. So for me it's a
must. And the younger you start
learning English the better
fortunately for us that we have the
Internet
I met some young students who learned by
themselves English just on YouTube
so for me this is a miracle
No teacher. definitely on a passive
platform they're learning English I
encourage every students to learn
English without it, your career is very
limited and if you wanna even if you're
in a job your promotion in the job is
very limited if you want to jump into
entrepreneurship it's going to be very
limited if you just closed yourself on
the Arabic and French and even the
French universities are starting to
teach in English their courses are in
English so why follow the French if
they're already going to English right
we might as well start right now
from the primary level for the kids to
learn English especially math science
technology finance accounting economy
internet whatever English is a must
Morocco has a lot to gain
from the world in English but also to
share with the world that's true I mean
if you're living in a rural area and you
export carpets or you want to sell
carpets imagine what you can do if
you can put your products on some of the
largest search engines right that's
unfortunately you cannot do that if
you're only contain yourself to one or
two languages yeah exactly
if you want access to billions of
customers language is that platform
you have on your LinkedIn profile social
entrepreneur and I've seen London
Academy doing different charity
work could you talk about that a little
bit as I said on my criteria of doing a
business the passion part or the
social parts are important within the
school we do have citizenship
projects and our students and our
faculty are keen in sharing what we have
and what we know I know what we can do
with other organizations other
associations so we've been active with
the help of parents of companies and
associations to reach out to the needy
and share learning share education share
books setting up libraries in rural
areas or distributing covers to areas
that are very cold definitely has an
impact one of the students who went
through this experience because they
actually spent three days in a rural
area and she told me she found herself
surrounded by a lot of happy kids
happier than you know what
we live in the city and I told her
why she said like first of all they feel
secure where they are and they play in
nature which was great so
such experiences there's a give and
taking takeaways we partnered with a
school that's public school and we
shared with them we donated some
equipment and I would like to share all
our know-how in robotics with public
schools so that's something that I'm
working on. We have a blended
learning platform I would love to see
how that can impact
in Morocco so I'm discussing it with the
Ministry of Education and see how
we can have such impacts but there is
a lot of giving and taking it's not only giving
there is also taking that
we get when we are in the social world
yeah that's fantastic if London
Academy has expertise and resources that
they can share and pass on to the
public school the country as a whole
benefits and the students benefit on
both sides Definitely yeah that's
wonderful
as I mentioned my audience is in that
18 to 24 age group do you have any
advice for them as they're at the
beginning of their education or
launching their career any advice you
would pass on I think we covered the few
things in the discussion but my first advice is English it will open up
a lot of opportunities for you my second
advice is technology definitely use
technology learn technology 80% of the
future jobs include technology in
whatever you do 44% of the existing jobs
will disappear between 2030 and 2040 so
we better be ready with new skills don't
prepare yourself for the 80s job prepare
yourself for the 21st century's jobs
travel abroad live abroad discover other
cultures very important it will just
make you better
it will open your mind this will give
you ideas it will give you a reach
throughout the world number four
think about entrepreneurship before you
think about employments and the younger
you are the more risk you can take you
don't have a lot of responsibility you
don't have kids you don't have a monthly
income that you need to to spend so you
might as well start with
entrepreneurship so these are my advice
for young Moroccans and young people all
over the world too to focus on and I hope they would be
very successful thank you so much for
your time thanks for sharing your wisdom
and your experience and the lessons we
can learn from you Thank You
thanks for coming.
you've been listening to the business
in Morocco podcast my name is Ryan Kirk
here with my co-host Ryan Maimone. if you
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theme music is lovely day by Bill
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we hope you'll have a lovely day doing
business in Morocco we'll see you next
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