An Interview with Ahmed Bahgat, VXI’s VP Operations, Egypt, Middle East & Africa
With a skilled, multilingual workforce, modern infrastructure, and a supportive business environment, Egypt has become an ideal offshore outsourcing destination.
Ahmed Bahgat, VXI’s VP of Operations for Egypt, the Middle East, and Africa, has witnessed firsthand how technology and workforce development initiatives have transformed the country into a premier and multilingual outsourcing hub. In the following interview, Ahmed shares his thoughts on Egypt’s talent advantage, the role of AI, and how to empower a new generation of workers.
Ahmed, thank you for joining me today. One of my favorite questions to ask leaders in our space is how they got started. What led you to the BPO industry initially?
Ahmed Bahgat (AB): Although my career began as a software engineer, I quickly realized the reality of sitting behind a desk and coding wasn’t for me. I’ve always loved gaming, so when it was time to make a career change, I decided to take a role as a customer service agent for one of the world’s largest gaming brands here in Egypt. Initially, I considered it a temporary position, but gaming was something I loved, and being able to help customers through my own passion was personally fulfilling.
Between my engineering degree and my knowledge of the player experience, I was able to excel in a technical support role. One promotion led to another, and before I knew it, I was managing a multilingual site providing support services in over eleven languages. It’s an industry that is always evolving, and in a leadership role, I’ve been given the privilege of growing the careers of others, which continues to inspire me daily.
How has your career progression influenced the way you position the employee value proposition to others? What’s most important when it comes to engaging and empowering the talent in Egypt today?
AB: That’s an important question. Our business is increasingly technology-led, but people are still the driving force behind building meaningful brand connections. We have to recognize that we are dealing with a new generation and a different mindset. It’s essential that we provide our employees with challenging work that engages their minds and encourages creativity.
Routine tasks without room for innovation or sharing opinions won’t cut it. For Generation Z, building an employee value proposition around career progression, personal development, purpose, and a sense of achievement will be key. We need to understand their expectations and ensure they feel valued to retain them.
As experts in experience management, our goal should always be to capture hearts and minds vs. scaling more “butts in seats.” I advise new professionals entering this space to come in with an objective. It’s a fast-growing business and we promote from within. Once they know what they want, we build our operating model around helping employees achieve their goals.
How do you think AI will help elevate and empower the employee experience?
AB: I remain very optimistic about the impact of generative AI on our business. Embracing automation and enabling employees to take on more creative and valuable roles is a positive trend and one that could solve the industry’s biggest pain point – attrition.
By shifting mundane tasks to technology, we can unlock the potential of our workforce. In Egypt, out of our 540,000 annual university graduates, over 30% are multilingual, and more than 50,000 have an IT background. Our talent base is scalable, but more importantly, it’s able to grow in terms of capability and skill.
By automating the low-value contact drivers, more of our graduates will be able to use their talents and education to focus on higher-value tasks like digital enablement and data analytics. Everyone talks about AI replacing the need for live support, but I believe an agent’s role will evolve alongside technology, unlocking a stronger employee value proposition. I’m excited to work with some of VXI’s client partners to demonstrate the power of an AI-assisted workforce here in Cairo.
Egypt is now considered one of the fastest-growing offshore destinations in the world. What advice would you give to a company outsourcing here for the first time?
AB: Egypt has a lot to offer, and it’s continuously ranked as one of the premier offshore outsourcing locations. As I’ve mentioned, our country’s greatest asset is its thriving labor force of young, competent rising stars.
That said, companies that do well here understand the importance of a strong partnership and view talent as a valuable asset. For Egyptians, business is personal. If your program has seasonality, setting clear expectations with agents from the beginning is important. There are many candidates who are looking for part-time and flexible work, but it must be positioned that way.
Egyptians have a good sense of humor and can be very welcoming, hospitable, and kind-hearted – great customer support characteristics, but we value trust and respect above all else.
What is one of the biggest misconceptions U.S. companies have about Egypt?
AB: Egypt is a vibrant hub for both U.S. and European-based businesses, but for people who have never been here, questions still arise around business continuity and the country’s stability. The reality is Cairo has a very low crime rate and from a continuity standpoint, has experienced fewer disruptions than other leading nearshore and offshore locations.
In fact, Egypt was one of the few emerging markets to experience a positive growth rate in 2020. Due to measured policies and a swift response from the government, we were able to prioritize employee wellbeing, while providing our clients with operational resiliency.
As you prepare to launch VXI’s newest delivery center in Cairo, what are you looking forward to the most?
AB: We have some exciting plans to disrupt the local BPO market with our unique culture, socially driven mission, and employee value proposition. I look forward to sharing more as our journey unfolds!
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