Breaking Barriers: AXA Group Operations’ Moroccan IT Team Counts 50% Women

Ahead of our visit to AXA in Technopolis (near Rabat) on May 9, we spoke to Michele Rochefort, CEO of AXA Global Business Services and President of AXA Group Operations Morocco, about the Moroccan market.

Hello Michele! What exactly is AXA doing in Morocco?

We operate three entities: an insurance carrier handling sub-African markets, AXA Services Maroc, and AXA Group Operations Maroc, which I lead as president. Collectively, we employ almost 5,000 people. AXA Services Maroc focuses on shared services for French-based entities, while AXA Group Operations Maroc has 400 professionals specializing in IT, cyber defense, and application development, among other areas.

How do you acquire talent in these special areas?

Our presence in Morocco is not new, and over the years we have built a strong brand and deep connections in the country. This helps us a lot in attracting qualified people. It’s exciting to see Morocco gaining recognition as a talent hub, similar to Spain or Portugal.

Attracting specialists is one thing. Retaining them is another. How is that in your company?

Our retention rate is over 85%. We have found a wealth of talent in Morocco, especially from the universities. Our approach starts early, particularly through our extensive internship programs, with a special emphasis on areas such as cybersecurity. I believe these programs, along with our collaboration with various institutes, have been instrumental for us. But it’s not just about work. We embrace and celebrate the rich Moroccan culture, and I’m very passionate about our “Healthy You” program, which focuses on the health and well-being of our employees, ensuring that we offer more than just a job – we create a nurturing and supportive environment especially with the implementation of our homeworking policy. Internal mobility is also very important to me. It’s vital that our team members have the opportunity to grow, develop and explore different paths within our organization.

What are the key challenges AXA faces in Morocco?

The country’s strategic geographical location and growing economy offer significant opportunities for our business expansion. However, navigating Morocco’s specific regulatory environment can be challenging. Adapting to evolving legal frameworks, understanding local labor laws, and complying with tax and business practices are all critical to our smooth operation in the region. The key to success here is having an experienced Moroccan leadership that can adeptly manage these challenges. In addition, Morocco’s varied levels of technological advancement across different sectors require a tailored approach to our operations, emphasizing the need for effective training and support systems.

From your perspective, what skills are particularly valuable in Morocco?

The workforce is multilingual, fluent in French, Arabic, English, and often Spanish. This linguistic diversity is a valuable asset, particularly for bilingual contact centers and business process support. Beyond language skills, Morocco stands out for its investment in education, especially in IT. The country’s polytechnic universities are increasingly recognized for their top-tier IT and cyber expertise. This growing IT expertise is a key factor for us as we expand our operations in Morocco and tap into the country’s deep and broad pool of IT talent.

Gender parity is an important issue for many companies. How do you see this at AXA Group Operations Morocco?

I’m genuinely enthusiastic about this topic. At AXA, we’ve achieved a 50/50 gender split overall and a 60/40 female to male ratio in our leadership team. We firmly believe in and actively promote gender parity and see it as an integral part of our identity as an employer. However, our commitment to diversity goes beyond gender and encompasses various aspects of our D&I agenda, which is a key focus and regularly measured metric at AXA.

Creating an inclusive environment is not necessarily difficult, but it must be a strategic priority. It’s about policies like flexible work arrangements that fully support our workforce. It’s about how we recruit and provide growth opportunities for all employees. At AXA, because this commitment is woven into our strategic direction, achieving gender parity and broader diversity goals becomes a more attainable and natural outcome.

What can the CIOmovers who will be visiting Morocco this year look forward to?

I’m fascinated by Morocco’s vibrant and diverse culture. Working in Morocco has been an incredible experience for me, and I’m eager to share that excitement with my colleagues who will be visiting. It’s a chance for them to embark on a journey through Morocco’s rich history and embrace its dynamic present.

Further information on the CIOmove 2024 agenda can be found here.