Hasna Lakrafi – Working for change
Hasna Lakrafi – Working for change


Hasna Lakrafi – Working for change

November 15, 2021

Studying a Masters in Business and Commerce at Macquarie University was a turning point for French woman Hasna Lakrafi, allowing her to launch an international career on her return to Paris. Now, she is turning that experience into work that tackles two of France’s, and indeed the world’s, greatest challenges – climate change and gender equality in the workforce.

Words: Megan English

It’s la rentrée in France when I speak with Hasna – that time of year that speaks of new beginnings after the long European summer break. She is glad to have spent some time on holiday in Italy after being locked down, and life is starting to return to some kind of normal, albeit with pass sanitaires to confirm vaccination in public places.

She is working from her home in Paris a few days a week, like many now do since the pandemic, something that was quite unusual in France beforehand. The winds of change are afoot, and Hasna is ready. She has just started working with Le Grand Défi (legranddefi.org), which translates to the great challenge, an not-for-profit organisation bringing together 200 companies that represent the French economic world to tackle climate change.

‘In order to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement by 2030, we need companies to take the objectives seriously and change the way they do business,’ explains Hasna. ‘By engaging companies of varying sizes from a range of industries across France, we are hoping to transition the economy to a sustainable model – one that contributes to achieving less than 2 degrees warming of the planet.’

It’s an ambitious and inspiring project that brings together Hasna’s experience to date – and her desire to use her skills to have a greater impact in the world. ‘I’m really interested in sustainability and corporate social responsibility. It was part of my position at MoneyGram, but I wanted to do it full-time,’ she says of the transition from the American money transfer company she had been with for the last 11 years.

‘I started working with MoneyGram after my return from Sydney. I wanted a job that was international in focus and, thanks to my studies in English and the knowledge I gained at Macquarie, I was appointed marketing manager for Maghreb, in north Africa, and then all of Africa. Four years ago, I took over responsibility for the whole of Europe.

‘I could not have done this without my Masters in Business and Commerce, and majoring in Marketing gave me the 360-degree experience required. I had originally studied communications and was working in events, but wanted to complement this with marketing and business – the degree was a real turning point in my career.’

And, according to Hasna, studying in Australia was one of the greatest things she has ever done. ‘It was the best souvenir of my life!’ she laughs. Having worked in London early in her career and keen to undertake a masters, she decided to go as far as she could, somewhere she would not have the opportunity to go on holiday.

‘Sydney is a melting pot of people from all around the world – I loved that and have kept many of the friendships I made with other students.’

But she was also looking for something very specific in her studies. ‘It was the quality of the program and the way it was structured that appealed,’ remembers Hasna, who also continues her connection with the university through the France Alumni Network.

‘Two years ago, I attended the launch event at the residence of the Australian Ambassador to France, Brendan Berne. It was there I met head of the network, Sylvestre Mang (mq.edu.au/macquariematters/sylvestre-mang-global-vision), and offered to help.

‘It started just before COVID, so it’s been hard to bring people together, but we all share a love for Australia and Macquarie University, and want to grow the alumni in France. For me, it is rich to have this kind of network and share this kind of experience; I am always telling people to go and study overseas.’

There is a genuine joy and energy when Hasna speaks, and an enthusiasm to share her experience and help others. It’s no surprise then that she has a few projects on the boil. ‘I have always been a woman of action,’ Hasna says, and again there’s that good-natured laugh.

The past few years have indeed been a time of reflection and change for Hasna and, having a child four years ago was no less pivotal in terms of her career and what she wants out of life –and for other women.

‘I started to realise how challenging it can be to balance motherhood and a career. After the birth of my son, I had to take a step back. I couldn’t work as I had previously and knew this was happening to many other women.

‘France is really behind in terms of gender equity. The gender pay gap is currently 24% in France. It appears for women on the birth of their first child, sometimes before, but doesn’t occur for men – on average, their salary increases.

‘It is not acceptable or fair, so I decided to set up Activ’Women (instagram.com/myactivwomen), creating a community of women who can help each other through training and mentoring. By providing leadership and facilitating collaboration through all phases of life, we can get women back to work and change the work environment for women. We can also encourage companies to understand the challenges women face and the barriers to participation – and find solutions.’

Just as the sand in an oyster shell provides the irritation to form a pearl, so too Hasna is agitating for change. ‘Arriving mid-career, there’s a time where you need to be aligned with yourself and your values. I wanted to give more and do more. I always had it within me, but now it is front and centre in my career.’

Hasna Lakrafi graduated from Macquarie University with a Masters of Business and Commerce with a major in Marketing in 2009. Currently Project Manager at Le Grand Défi (legranddefi.org), a not-for-profit organisation bringing together all levels of French business to present the government with 100 agreements to reduce carbon emissions, she brings her 360-degree marketing experience to fight climate change. Previously with MoneyGram International for 11 years, most recently as Digital Marketing and E-Commerce Lead for Europe, Hasna is part of the Macquarie France Alumni Network in Paris.


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