Siwar Farhat jumpstarting business in Tunisia

Mon 06 Feb 2017

Siwar Farhat is currently Sofrecom’s Operations Manager, having directed Sofrecom’s Tunisian subsidiary until 2016. In November of that year, she was honoured by the Tunisian monthly business and financial magazine "Entreprises" as one of the "top 100 managers that have jumpstarted business in Tunisia*". Let’s hear from Siwar on this thoughtful recognition.

Entreprises Magazine’s distinction is a form of accolades for your career: what is it exactly? As someone with Tunisian roots, I finished the first part of my studies in Tunis to get a Masters in Information Management. I then came to France to study for my PhD in Scientific and Technical Information, choosing to do my thesis on access by people with visual impairments to new technologies.
I joined the industry in 1997 and Orange in 2001. Then I came to Sofrecom as IT Manager. My career is a little atypical: research, IT development and project management, catalyst for change, IT transformation, entrepreneurship… It’s also been an international experience, first with Morocco and then Tunisia, where I consider myself privileged to have been able to create the Sofrecom subsidiary.

Exactly how did you create the Tunisian subsidiary? I love to take risk and see results. Challenges really movitate me. In 2011, when I was offered to go to Tunisia to create the Sofrecom Group subsidiary, I didn’t even think twice about it. At the beginning, we were only a dozen in "start-up" mode. Around 30 people quickly joined us. I took over Sofrecom Tunisia’s management in 2014 to boost its activity, recruit young ITN talent (currently counting 400 workers), and shine the spotlight on the subsidiary in Tunisia and within Orange as a centre of excellence in ITN activities. This was a great human adventure - a story of a dynamic and passionate team. We were able to grow the company within a country in transition.
We expanded our business and customer satisfaction and created employment with a unifying thread: Excellence at every level.

What makes you the most proud? Sofrecom Tunisia was distinguished with the 2015 FIPA Award by the Tunisian Foreign Investment Promotion Agency. It’s a prestigious prize that acknowledges the company’s contributions to the country’s economic development. It’s such a point of pride to have been able to highlight this breeding ground for Tunisian skills and to have quickly developed a service centre that is now a reference. I am also very proud of the joint success of Sofrecom and Orange. Furthermore, we were the first subsidiary of a French company to link up with Smart Tunisia, a government programme for the development of offshoring in Tunisia.

What does it mean to you to be part of the group of 100 managers that promote business in Tunisia? Honestly, it was a very pleasant surprise! I take it as recognition for the work I’ve done with my Sofrecom and Orange teams. Beyond this distinction, I can only thank Sofrecom and Orange for their trust and for giving me the opportunity to establish and grow this subsidiary, which today is now renowned as one of the most dynamic - Sofrecom’s nearshoring flagship. I was lucky to work with great teams who made it all possible. I’ve earned my stripes as an entrepreneur through this experience. I would have never imagined this path when I started my career.

What are your next professional challenges? I’ve joined the Sofrecom Management team to put my skills and experience at its service. I will lead operational strategy in our 2020 strategic plan. It’s an exciting challenge that will require a cross-disciplinary approach for the transformation and continuous improvement plan. I will also oversee the implementation of all possible synergies between different entities. A new, rich professional page.

*Selection criteria: risk-taking and innovation in economic models, good governance and social responsibility, goodwill and a good presence in the media, conquest of international markets and establishment of an inclusive ecosystem that integrates regional development.