BNZSA Academy, one year in: what I’ve learned from our international expansion

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This week I’m celebrating the first anniversary of the BNZSA Academy, our branch in Tangiers, Morocco! It’s been a crazy and challenging 12 months to lead on our international expansion, and I want to thank Arnaud and Chrissy for being by my side through all of it. Together we’ve built a team of 20 marketing executives who work in English, French, German and Italian.  

Here are a few of the lessons I’ve learned over the past year:

Expect the unexpected

When the coronavirus lockdown hit in March and the borders closed, Chrissy and I found ourselves stranded in Tangier with only 4 days’ worth of clothes! There’s nothing like 5 months in a country to help you immerse in its culture, get to know colleagues and really focus on the business. It was an unexpected twist, but I think overall it’s helped us accelerate our growth. 

Respect local customs 

In many ways, working with the team in Morocco has been so seamless that it’s easy to forget the cultural differences that arise from an international expansion. The month of Ramadan was really interesting for us to learn about the strength and focus of our Moroccan colleagues. Fasting in the heat of the summer can’t have been easy, and we never wanted to disrespect their dedication so we more or less joined them. It felt like the right thing to do and I think our colleagues appreciated it.

Find ways to bond 

Back in Madrid, BNZSA is famous for our Christmas and summer parties! I knew that these wouldn’t really be an option in Morocco and that we´d have to find new ways to bond with our colleagues. I’ll never forget our night doing Moroccan karaoke, nor our beautiful drive out to some lovely beach towns. We also like to try and escape the office to do team briefings over a cup of Moroccan mint tea! 

Remember you’re not alone! 

I think everyone’s learned this year how technology can keep you connected! For us, it’s been so important to know that we have the support of a whole team back in Madrid. Brahim and David spent the first few weeks of this adventure with us in Tangiers, and we’ve had support from Cristina on the Production side and Gina’s data team throughout! I’d also like to thank Margaux for all of your help from the beginning. We’re proud to be part of the BNZSA team. 

If you’re considering an international expansion, or have any questions about how we got started in Morocco, feel free to reach out!