Alumna Meryem Belqziz at the Wheel as Rideshare-Giant Uber Comes to Casablanca
That’s one of the top questions Trip Advisor users ask when planning a visit to a foreign country. For travelers to Morocco, the answer is now yes.
BCG alumna Meryem Belqziz (Casablanca, 2012–2014) is general manager of Uber in Morocco. While not from a tech background—before consulting, she spent ten years in banking—Meryem says she has long been intrigued by Uber’s vision to “make transportation as reliable globally as drinking water.”
Meryem took time recently to chat about her job and her ambition for Uber in Morocco.
My key priority—which will be a game-changer for Uber in this market—is to build an understanding, from a regulatory point of view, with government and local authorities as to how Uber will operate in Morocco. Beyond that, I’m focused on growing supply, which in turn will generate higher demand. Although these efforts are for the time being centered on gaining a foothold in Casablanca and successfully launching Rabat (Uber has been in Rabat since September 2017), we plan to launch in Marrakech, Tangier, and other cities across the country.
Transportation is a key driver of development. Uber will bring significant benefits to Morocco—and to the broader Middle East and Africa region—in terms of employment and economic opportunity. We believe, with favorable regulations in place, we can create a lot of jobs. We currently have 600 active drivers and 24,000 registered drivers. We estimate that the number of active full-time drivers could rise to at least 12,000 in the coming two years.
On top of that, we bring increased safety. Thanks to Uber’s technology, every ride is trackable, and customers can wait safely at home or work for their car to show up. Our rating and feedback system also contributes to the safety of drivers and riders.
Further, Uber will be a boon for tourism. Morocco has set an ambitious goal to attract 20 million visitors by 2020 and is a candidate to organize the football World Cup in 2026. We will be a key partner for any country with this sort of ambition and have already proved our added value as partner for key global events.
Lastly, Morocco wants to position itself as a nation of “smart cities,” and Uber wants to contribute. We have a program, Uber Movement, that connects urban planners to analytics on traffic patterns, trip volumes, peak usage, and such—allowing cities to better plan their infrastructure investments.
I’ve always seen my career as an exploratory and fun adventure. As a banker in structured finance, I worked on complex projects and multimillion dollar deals with big impact. It was very exciting. When the financial crisis hit, it became more difficult to do business, things became more complicated, and it stopped being fun.
I earned an MBA as a way to discover other career paths and was intrigued by consulting because it offered a great snapshot of many industries. When the opportunity to work at BCG came up, I jumped at it. Working on a broad range of private- and public-sector cases helped broaden my perspective and shape my business skills and capacities. I learned how to structure and communicate my ideas—both orally and in writing—succinctly. I learned how to handle numerous complex problems simultaneously. I learned how to be solution driven. I also met incredibly smart people within BCG who greatly contributed to my personal development.
However, I came to realize that I wanted to work on the big picture, to manage a business from A to Z, to be in a job that gives a global perspective on an entire business—a high-level view where I could be active in building out business divisions.
I have two key career drivers: I want to have fun in what I do, and I want to have a positive impact. Added to that, I have personal ambitions for Morocco. When Uber spread around the world, I saw it as a fantastic opportunity for Morocco. Morocco brings specific challenges. Our existing taxi system—based on a rental structure, where up to 70% of a driver’s daily earnings go to medallion owners, and where the distribution of those medallions is secretive and biased—is inherently unfair. I set it as a personal challenge to bring some equality to this market and to help taxi drivers get free from this oppressive system.
The more women we have in leadership positions, the more role models we’ll have for younger females at the start of their careers. However, my goal is not to push every woman to become a CEO. My vision for a great society and a great culture is that every person—man or woman—has the opportunity to achieve whatever they want to achieve. I would love to see more equality and more career options for everyone.