Diaspo #99 : Aabir Rhardane, combatting challenges through leadership

After graduating highschool, Aabir Rhardane moved to France to complete her studies. Despite the difficulties she faced, she succeeded in establishing a path of success in Luxemburg and began her career in one of the oldest banking institutions in the world.

Aabir Rhardane. / Ph. DR
Estimated read time: 3'

With hardship comes great success. This quote sums up the journey of Aabir Rhardane, a Moroccan national who lives in Luxemburg.

Aabir, who bears Belgian citizenship, was born in Safi in May 1991 to a family that encouraged her to seek knowledge. Her father was in charge of the health department for schools in Doukkala-Abda, formerly one of the sixteen regions of Morocco. He was also a poet and a painter. As for her mother, she was her father's right-hand woman.

Aabir went to primary and middle school in the city of Safi and moved to Marrakech with her family, where she graduated high school. With her baccalaureate in hand, Aabir thought of studying abroad. In 2009, she left for Strasbourg, France, where she opted for preparatory classes in economics and political sciences.

Banking vs. leadership

She then moved to Belgium to study management and languages. Meanwhile, she applied for a certificate in investment funds, provided by French international banking group BNP Paribas.

During this training, Aabir succeeded in attracting the attention of the financial institution, after she managed to get the highest score. Right after the training, the young woman was offered a job at the same bank, where she worked for the sales department, building a new practice around anti-money laundering and financial crime, at a time when the US government was fining the bank 9 billion dollars for violating embargos against Cuba, Iran and Sudan.

Aabir, who is fluent in French, English and Arabic, with a good level in Polish, Spanish and German, told Yabiladi that she was «chosen to be part of committee set up by the bank to meet the US Attorney General» and was «tasked with assisting the case for two years».

«I was assigned a number of responsibilities at the age of 23, while reporting directly to an executive director at the bank, and I was the only girl working in the committee, along with experienced men in their fifties, which helped me develop my professional skills».

Aabir Rhardane

In 2015, Aabir who also plays the piano, won an innovation prize at the bank for heading a project. Despite her competence and hard work, Aabir was faced with a number of challenges. «I had been confronted to a situation that did not go hand in hand with my principles and values. With little protection and recognition for my efforts and committments, I was forced to resign» and work for State Street bank in Luxemburg.

Charity work

Aabir, who tied the knot with a Polish man in 2011, said that the challenges she encountered at the beginning of her career pushed her to try to «understand leadership and do research in this field». Indeed, in 2018, she founded «The Leadership Academy» in Luxemburg to «help young professionals develop their leadership skills and allow them to feel supported and fulfilled in the workplace».

The foundation oversees lectures, organizes free workshops, seminars and conferences by welcoming leading personalities. Through these activities, Aabir meets many experienced people and writes academic research that she makes available for everyone. She also delivers lectures on management for universities and other institutions.  

«I was preparing for my PhD, but now I will stop for a while because I gave birth to a child. By completing my academic studies, I am trying to create a new management model that would prevent some leaders from curbing the talents and abilities of young professionals», she said.

After leaving the American bank, Aabir is now a financial consultant for multinational professional services company Accenture.

Her career has not prevented her from doing charity work. She has established «Save a Smile», an association that helps sick children by raising funds for families of children who cannot afford medical surgeries in Morocco, as well as in many countries in North Africa and Latin America.

«I will soon participate in a half marathon to raise up to 10,000 euros to pay for the treatment of a girl who is suffering from kidney failure in Morocco and to pay for the surgery of a child with cancer».

Aabir Rhardane

«My goal is not only to collect donations, but to draft a bill addressing the necessity to provide free treatment for children that come from families in the need», Aabir added.

In addition to her association, Aabir is a co-founder of a brand called «Zeyneb», which produces natural and organic cosmetics.

«I'm honestly not considering this option of going back to Morocco at the moment», she said. «My goal is not to create a project in my country, as many people do, but my ambition in the future is to dive into politics in my country».

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