Féras Souissi, MSc (Master of Science) in Management-Engineering, Grande Ecole (2010)
Féras Souissi of France has master’s degrees in customer relationship management and civil engineering. He graduated with an MSc in Management-Engineering from Audencia Business School’s Grande Ecole programme in 2010. Prior to that, he earned a Master in Engineering from Ecole des Mines de Douai. He is fluent in French, English and Arabic.
Féras is commercial manager for the GDVC Light Railway Transit System’s Depot and At-Grade Stations projects in Qatar. Once completed, this new system will provide convenient transportation for those living in, and commuting to, Lusail City.
Féras manages a team of procurement officers, contract administrators, quantity surveyors and document controllers. His team handles the subcontracting and procurement processes – including sourcing, quote requests, prequalification, purchase order negotiation, contract negotiation and administration, payment certification, correspondence, claim management, and delivery of good and services. He also manages the main contract with the client.
Féras loves managing a diverse team, including people from the United Kingdom, France, Lebanon, the Philippines and India.
“When I finished my engineering degree, the reason I went to Audencia was to develop my commercial management skills. I am a ‘people’ person – I wouldn’t be able to do a job that requires me to sit alone in my office all day!”
Féras says managing a team of individuals from vastly different cultures is also a daily challenge. “Most of my work, such as contractual negotiation and payment certification, is entirely communicating with people, in order to be as effective as possible for the commercial benefit of the project. On this project, I have been exposed to professionals from places as different as the Middle East, Europe, Asia and Africa … I have learned a lot from this experience in terms of communication and adjustment to different cultures. You may deal with problems when it comes to managing contracts, but your ability to adjust your communication depending on your audience will always be key to finding win-win solutions.”
As an example, Féras explains that communication styles in Middle Eastern countries vary significantly. Communication can sometimes be more forceful than in Western countries, both for cultural reasons and because English is not the first language of many people in the area. “I sharpened my negotiation skills with Middle Easterners with my siblings while growing up,” jokes Féras, who was born in France but has parents and siblings from Tunisia.
Féras’s parents inspired him to work hard and set ambitious career goals. “My parents grew up in Tunisia and went to France to find a better future for their family. I simply want to make them proud by having a respectable professional career.”
He is also committed to his work, noting that his working conditions and lifestyle are good, and he enjoys the challenge of managing a budget of more than $1.5 billion. “I also really enjoy developing the skill sets of my team members. I believe that the keys to professional self-development are recognition and exposure to new challenges.”
Féras’s next goal – his current project concludes in 2018 – is to manage a commercial office. Eventually, he plans to become an entrepreneur, perhaps in consulting. “In this part of the world, consulting companies are not responding well enough to new challenges. As an example, we are only just now starting to see that companies in Qatar need help with their cash flow and require more engineering skills to reduce their direct costs.”
Personal interests and passions:
Féras enjoys sports, particularly football (soccer). “It’s how I relieve stress,” he says.
He is also a mentor in the Aréli Emergence Programme, which helps young French students who come from disadvantaged suburbs, and from immigrant families with limited finances. The programme provides students with scholarships and mentors to help them prepare for the professional world.
“I come from a neighbourhood where many kids don’t finish high school or go to college. Aréli gave me a scholarship and provided me with a mentor, both when I was in high school and while I was at Audencia. It is my turn to give back.”
Staying in touch with Audencia:
Féras is still in touch with his fellow Audencia classmates – especially those who had also previously studied engineering. They take the opportunity to visit one another when they travel.
Advice to students and graduates:
Féras says, “Audencia is very open to the world, so while there, you have the chance to travel, get a taste of cultural differences and learn to accept that within the same situation, different people don’t see things the same way. It’s important to be open-minded; never think that you own the truth.”
He also stresses that it’s important to find a job where you have fun and are motivated. “Get ready to work really hard – and you’ll get wherever you want.”
Most memorable experience at Audencia:
Féras says his experience at Audencia can’t be distilled into one moment. “Audencia opened doors for me and gave me options I wouldn’t have had with just an engineering degree. Contracts in construction require hard skills, but also management skills. Without Audencia, I would probably have focused on an engineering career. Now I am a commercial manager and am exposed to challenges even more in line with my interests. I owe this to Audencia.”