Younes Lachiri and Sabrine Boudih are at the helm of the new Profica office in Morocco. Both experienced CBRE team members, they have transitioned seamlessly to establish Profica’s local presence in the country. CBRE Excellerate, active in Morocco since 2005, acquired a share in Profica. Profica is CBRE’s project and delivery arm across Africa, with a local presence in 30 countries across the continent.
Born and raised in Morocco, Younes hails from Casablanca and holds a Masters Degree in Civil Engineering. Younes has gained over twenty years of experience, six of them spent with CBRE leading projects in Morocco, from hospitality to corporate fit-out projects to large industrial projects. Younes now leads the technical aspects of projects.
Sabrine joined CBRE in 2013 as her first corporate job out of university, taking on roles in interior design, project management and contracting. She then explored new challenges in Dubais working in a design consultancy, before gaining further experience in Marbella, Spain. Her role, now with Profica, is project management and account management, with an additional focus on business development.
Both are passionate about their impressive portfolios that continue to grow. Younes cites a high-tech castle completed in Marrakesh and major fit-out projects with Huawei as his career highlights. Sabrine’s favourite project has been for Adidas – completing a five story high street retail building. “It was intense, I lived there – pretty much in a cardboard box that kept moving around. It’s great to drive by the building and realise, wow, I did that!”
Sabrine says her favourite part of working in this industry is taking projects from paper to reality. “What we do is very concrete – you follow an entire process going from an idea, to layouts, to seeing the full completion of the project.” Her varied experience positions Sabrine well for a multidisciplinary role with Profica. “At Profica, we multitask and we don’t work in silos. We touch everything from design, to commercial aspects, to administration, to site management. I’ve been in everybody’s shoes! This gives us a fully-fledged view of the project and all the stakeholders involved, which adds huge value as you understand the project from all perspectives. It certainly helps us to manage the project better.”
As in any industry, there have been challenges to overcome. “I have found being a woman in the industry can be a challenging, particularly in the first five years of my career,” says Sabine. “I am often the only woman in the room and the only woman on site. I hope this will continue to change as more women enter the industry.”
Younes thrives on solving major issues as projects are completed end to end. “It’s very satisfying when we resolve situations. The capability to overcome complicated challenges, while building relationships and earning the trust of the clients, provides real added value for our clients. This requires unique talents and experience, which not every company offers.”
Outside of work, Younes enjoys running – whether it’s a half-marathon or running after contractors! He spends time with his young family, including two daughters of eight and four years old. Sabrine spends family time with her two year old daughter, does yoga, wakeboards and surfs. She is also known to rustle up a good Moroccan meal.
A number of factors motivated Profica to establish an office in North Africa. “Morocco has become the centrepoint for North Africa and a doorway to Africa, Casablanca especially. Many multinationals have a base here as it is the meeting point between Africa and Europe,” explains Younes. “From an economic and political perspective, Morocco has a strategic position. Companies benefit from the large port in Tangier, reduced taxes, and new stability which encourages multinationals to enter. As a French-speaking country, it is easier for multinationals to access.”
With growing investment in developments over the last fifteen years, Younes says Morocco is one big construction site. “There are new hotels, residential and commercial developments everywhere. Over the past decade we’ve been seeing more factories and industrial projects as companies move production from Europe to Morocco. This is thanks to renewed stability, the location, reduced costs, and the way the country has facilitated doing business.”
Central business districts have also been rapidly developing in the economic capitals. “Office space will always be in demand. When they expand, clients call us – and when they need to efficiently downsize, they call us,” says Younes.
According to Younes, multinational clients, often based in Europe, prefer one point of contact. “We’re able to offer turnkey developments through our design and build services, delivering as the principal contractor. Projects can however be very complex, for example a high-end pharmaceutical grade factory. We help appoint the contractor, managing the contractor and the risks.”
The range of work Profica offers is also evolving to include aspects such as change management. “Clients are starting to give importance to the people, and not just to the space,” says Sabrine. “Previously it was just about workspace strategy. Once we delivered, there was limited change management. Clients are now understanding the people aspects better.”
Profica has a focus on corporate real estate, adapting services on a project by project basis. The company is involved in a number of projects in the region. A project for Mastercard is the first project to earn a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification in Casablanca. Other projects include work for Syngenta, a global client of CBRE, Ericsson and the British Council. “In context, the world is coming back to life after a two year shutdown. 2022 has been a test period for us to forecast our growth. Based on this we will determine how to grow the team. We are expecting exponential growth.”
Profica CEO Tim White has strong faith in the team, saying, “Both Sabrine and Younes are consummate, experienced professionals with embedded local, in-country knowledge. Even more importantly – their approach is a good fit for the entrepreneurial culture of Profica where we value proactive problem-solving and the ability to ‘see around corners’ as part of our commitment to ensuring that our clients achieve the maximum return on their investment. We are committed creating opportunities for African talent to shine and we wish this dynamic team every success as they grow the Profica team in Morocco.”