Friday, March 17, 2017

TRENDSETTERS: LATIFA AZZOUZI - an interview

A series about young Moroccans, born and raised outside Morocco, well rooted in 2 cultures! Setting a trend.  
We are curious about them, about their life choices and about the role model they are.   
                    

An interview with:
Latifa Azzouzi - Entrepreneur and HR manager raised in the Netherlands, living in Casablanca - Morocco

                    
article by Marlène Pauly more articles by Marlène HERE
English only

 

- Tell us a bit about yourself 


Both my parents are from Nador. They chose to leave Morocco 37 years ago and moved to the Netherlands to provide a better future for their children. I was just 2 years old when we started our new life in Holland. Being the eldest of 5 children I always felt responsible for my younger siblings.

In my extended family I also was the first who took her education seriously. My nieces and nephews left school early to start work or marry. My parents at that time did not know the school system very well so they couldn't advise me on this.
These days, it was common to get started at a low school level where a lot of immigrant kids were sent to, especially girls.  Girls from immigrant background at that time where thought to not accomplish a lot in education and would most likely drop out and marry at a young age.

This was not the case for me...
I proved them wrong. I was a curious girl and wanted to achieve better. So I continued studying until I reached university with my parents supporting me in every step.

I passed on this drive for accomplishing to my younger brothers and sister. For them it was easier to go through the school system, all because of my experiences and knowledge of it.

After my educations (Human Resources Management and Sociology) I worked in both social and business environment. Over the last 8 years in the Netherlands I worked in sales for big Pharmaceutical companies.
 
I only knew Morocco from holidays and mostly visiting family in Nador.
Our holidays were really not holidays....we always went to Nador and spent time with family.
I didn't know the rest of the country because we didn't travel.
For me Morocco was what I was seeing in Nador and nothing more.  In that area life stood still for a long time. So you can imagine that I had a negative association about my other homeland at that time. I couldn't have imagined that there would be a time that I actually would live and work here.

For 4 years now I am happily living in Morocco, Casablanca and running a successful company called INO-resources  that helps other Moroccan disapora come to Morocco to live and work and also connect Dutch/Belgian projects to Moroccan business.
Morocco also feel like home now and that's an amazing feeling!


- What was it that made you decide to connect back to your roots?


My life in Holland was a successful one. I had good education, had great jobs and loving family and friends around me. Holland still is my home and where I feel comfortable.
However, sometimes I wondered how it would feel to go back to my roots. 

Almost as if it was meant to be, I came across a job opportunity in Casablanca. I didn't think twice and immediately went for it.
Wow this was a kick and it felt as if I had wings. My family was not happy when they heard the news, but after some talking they supported me in my choice to go to Casablanca for this amazing opportunity.
I remember my mother saying to me that I probably wouldn't stay longer than 2 weeks because of my ever-present criticism on how things go in Morocco.
Like the horrible traffic, the bureaucracy, different mentality etc...

After all I was more Dutch then Moroccan 😄.


- What did you learn by moving and living in Morocco.  Something that you would love to see or experience more of in the country of your childhood.


Flexibility!
Wow!! For a control freak, like I used to be, THAT was a big challenge!
In Morocco, even in big cities like Casablanca,  nothing is fixed...information is not transparent, when you ask the same question to 4 different people working at the same bank, you will get 3 different answers.
Time is not fixed, a meeting at 1 pm will likely not start at 1 pm.
Traffic rules are flexible, meaning there are rules but people interpret them differently.
Moroccans live in a mode of 'insha Allah. We will fix this today and otherwise tomorrow'. Very ´go with the flow´ mentality.

All these things made be loosen up.
I was stressing too much when I moved here, about things I did NOT have any control over.  This is the most valuable what I have experienced by living in Morocco. Getting rid of this control freak inside me.
As a result I have become a much more chill person.
Don't understand me wrong... I don't want that level of flexibility in Holland but I think it would be good to sometimes reflect on the deeper meaning and results of all this stressing.
It makes people less flexible (I was one of them) and they get easily disappointed if something does not go as planned or expected.

I have learned to value the flexibility of people in Morocco.

- What is the most important life experience from the country you grew up that you wished you could share in Morocco.


In Holland we have the drive of developing and evolving to do better. This is an aspect that never stops. It reflects in every aspect of life. People give and accept constructive feedback for personal growth and development. 
Businesses are continuously looking for ways to improve. They always analyse their procedures to be more efficient and offer a better service. This drive to keep growing and developing is something that I would want to share here in Morocco. 

In Morocco if something works it works. No need to search for ways to do better. On the other hand it also can be liberating to not always want to do better 😂. 
But somewhere in the middle would be great.


- How and where do you see your future, both professional and private.


I started this adventure without knowing where it would lead me.
Now that I run my own company in Morocco and have my own employees it has become a serious thing.  It's no longer a project that will end soon.   
I hope to continue and grow business relationships between Morocco and Holland/Belgium and be a bridge between these beautiful countries.
Being both Dutch and Moroccan is an enrichment that makes me so proud. I am where I 'm supposed to be in life. Having Morocco in one hand and Holland in the other. Beautiful things can happen when we bring this together!
On a personal level it's a little harder at this moment because my family lives in Holland and I am experiencing this amazing journey on my own.  Living and working and having success far from your family is a lonely road.  I would love to add someone in my life to be a partner in this adventure and start my own family.  I don't know yet if that would be in Morocco or Holland...I would prefer having my family and friends close, so more likely I would choose Holland.

This part needs some work and figuring out 😀

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