IWF member profile

Soraya Benchikh

Soraya Benchikh Zouiehed

CEO (British American Tobacco)

Soraya Benchikh has a 19-year career at British American Tobacco, during which she has held a wide variety of roles in finance and management.

Soraya began her career at BAT as Area Finance Manager in Switzerland, before cutting her teeth in North Africa where she was involved in establishing new operations for BAT in Egypt and negotiating joint ventures in Tunisia. She was also tasked with managing due diligence ahead of a bid for a bid for a large cigarette manufacturer in Morocco.

Since then she has held several regional roles in fast-growing markets in Eastern and Western Europe, before moving into general management. As General Manager for France, Soraya was tasked with the challenge of developing a turnaround strategy in a highly regulated and complex environment.

After three successful years in France, Soraya was appointed Managing Director of the Southern Africa Area in January 2016. Speaking about her role in South Africa, Soraya described the Southern Africa market as being “at a turning point” with her biggest challenge being to address the duel threats of increased regulation and illicit trade.

Soraya was born in Lebanon and spent some of her childhood in Nigeria before moving to the United Kingdom where she completed an Honours degree in Mathematics and a postgraduate accountancy qualification. She is fluent in English and French, as well as her native Arabic.

Her extensive experience in fast moving consumer goods also includes time at Gillette and General Electric, where she held the position of Finance Manager.

Soraya is an enthusiastic hiker and lives in Cape Town with her husband and their son.