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EU alumnus Yassine Bakkari discusses his remarkable career trajectory, which has already taken him to five countries on three continents. He credits his MBA course at EU for his transformation from production engineer to General Manager of L’Oréal Morocco Consumer Products.
L’Oréal is the world’s largest cosmetics company and one of the most globally recognized brands. Yassine, who speaks French, English, Arabic, Spanish and Turkish, currently lives in Casablanca, Morocco, and enjoys playing football and going on adventures with his wife and children.
Where did you begin your career?
I started aged 22 in France as a production engineer with the Swedish group Tetra Pak. It was a very fast, intense experience in terms of learning about management and leadership. Four years later, I moved to Damascus to work for the Bel Group, the worldwide leader in cheese products, with brands like Kiri, Babybel and Laughing Cow. I worked with the factory’s supply chain to grow the operation and export products to numerous Middle Eastern countries. Unfortunately, we had to stop our operations in 2011 because of the national unrest, and yet maintain supply chain continuity to ensure the international markets didn’t suffer.
How did the MBA program at EU help you transition to a new career?
I already had a background in industry, but I had developed a strong interest in business during my career to that point. So, while still dismantling our Syrian operation, I decided to do an MBA in marketing with EU.
EU transformed my life. Although I was interested in business, I didn’t know what it really meant. Through the program, I not only learned what business was, but I learned it in an environment where I could discuss my ideas with my peers and other professionals. The experience gave me a 360-degree perspective of organizational behavior, management, leadership, strategy, commercial excellence, marketing, finance and accounting. Before I took the program, I didn’t know the difference between finance and accounting. Now I do.
After my program, I spent about two years in Egypt as Industrial Director for the Bel Group in Northeast Africa, which is not the most stable part of the world and involved some specific leadership challenges. I learned a lot about commercial operations in this position as we exported to many countries in Africa and across the Middle East.
What has working with a world-leading company like L’Oréal taught you?
Shortly after, I joined L’Oréal in Turkey as the general manager for a recently acquired factory for a very popular local hair care brand. It was a dream to join a worldwide cosmetics leader, a company driven by its passion for beauty, entrepreneurship and ethics. My job was to manage the so-called ‘L’Orealization’ of the company – in other words, to make sure it met our global standards. Then, I was promoted and moved to Dubai as Middle East Operations Director, managing the end-to-end supply chain for the four divisions. I learned a lot about go-to-market, business leadership and innovation, marketing, product development and customer relationships within mass market and selective sectors. These have already proved very useful in my latest role: I am now the General Manager for L’Oréal Morocco Consumer Goods, and I really enjoy my job every day.
The EU experience does not end at graduation. We like to maintain a close relationship with our alumni, wherever they may be in the world.
EU´s 27,000+ alumni hold top positions in multinational corporations, growing SMEs and innovative startups around the world. The EU Alumni Association holds regular networking events, presentations and seminars which are presented on the Alumni Hub, an online platform. Members use the Hub for keeping up to date with alumni events, sharing news about their achievements, connecting with former classmates, offering career opportunities and mentoring others.