How are you involved in Egis projects in the Middle East?
As profit center manager in the Middle East - for water and energy, ports, nuclear, marine ecology [Seaboost] and, until June 2023, environment - my role is to manage upstream sales, prepare bids and negotiate contracts for each of these key activities. I also mobilize our local teams and ensure project follow-up, customer satisfaction and compliance with our commitments. My department has about 120 full-time employees, and we also draw on the resources of other divisions to deliver the projects we are entrusted with. As a result, I spend a lot of time in the field, meeting with teams, partners and customers!
As someone who is in constant contact with the region, what can you tell us about the Middle East's approach to environmental and energy issues?
From my point of view, the Middle East has a strong environmental conscience, with a real desire to do the right thing and to present itself as THE global benchmark. This is particularly the case in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, which are giving themselves the means to do so. With COP28 taking place in the UAE at the end of November, the interest of all stakeholders in these issues was even greater this year.
For example, as part of the AlUla project, Saudi Arabia's largest tourism and cultural program, in which Egis is a key player, we have been working on circular economy issues, optimizing local quarry materials and using local raw earth for construction. We are also now working on the world's largest coral production farm (see box), developed by King Abdulla University of Sciences and Technologies. This type of project really allows us to leverage our different areas of expertise on emblematic projects.
To respond to all these environmental issues, we have set up a dedicated Middle East division, which gives us a strong local presence close to our customers, and we have also obtained all the necessary licenses and certifications in both Saudi Arabia and Qatar!
Laure, you won three outstanding awards in 2023: "Eco-Friendly Professional of the Year" at the Middle East Sustainability Innovation Awards (August), "Women in Leadership" at the Smart Built Environment Forum and Awards (October), and "Women Executive of the Year" at the Construction Innovation Awards (October). It's definitely been your year! How does it feel to be so appreciated and recognized for your work? How do you feel about the issue of women in the AECO sector?
I'm really proud to have won these three awards in quick succession, on themes that are close to my heart: innovation, sustainable development and eco-design. However, I don't see them as personal awards, but as a tribute to the work of all my teams! Thank you for your unparalleled energy and commitment. More generally, these successes testify to the strong dynamism of Egis in the Middle East.
I'm very positive about women in architecture, engineering and construction, especially in the Middle East. We have many young women within Egis who are brilliant architects and engineers and who bring a lot to the company. My feeling is that women are as well represented in this sector in the Middle East as they are in the rest of the world, although with a high degree of variability depending on the profession: there are far more women in the professions of architecture, environment and sustainable development than in construction supervision or operations, for example, but all in all, these affinities seem quite natural. A good example is Omrania, a recent acquisition of the Egis Group in the Middle East, specialized in architecture and engineering, with 33% women overall (out of almost 600 employees) and 60% at its production site in Amman, Jordan. However, there is still some under-representation of women in management positions, with fewer women the higher up you go. But I have no doubt that progress will be made in this area as women's influence in the industry grows.