Performing Issad Rebrab is one of the most difficult exercises. How do you present a man who is no longer presentable without falling into the repetition of what we know all too well in Algeria and even beyond?
The country’s most emblematic captain of industry is bound to be the best known. But as active as the communication of the Cevital group he founded is, the man is just as discreet about his personality, his private life, his thoughts.
Everyone knows the successes of Cevital and its boss, its products, its turnover, its legacy, its glory days and its difficult times. Very few people know the philosophy of life of the person behind all this and who has just passed on the torch.
At 78, Issad Rebrab has decided to retire and pass the torch on to his son Malik. And to reveal some secrets of his atypical journey, from the steep paths of Kabylie, Djurdjura, which he had to walk barefoot to go to school, to those of universality. Some facets of his personality that never leave you indifferent. Finally, the valuable keys to its success.
In fact, behind the investor is a deeply religious man and a great humanist. “All religions tell you: do your neighbor good, never harm. Those who are blessed by God are those whom He leads to good,” he proclaims.
Two hours of discussion with Issad Rebrab is a succession of maxims and phrases, some his, some borrowed. Everything is said with the philosophy. “No, retirement is not the end. The only real end in this world is death,” he says.
“The Magic of Big Thinking”
However, after half a century of hard work, his retirement from the business and management of the company is effective. It was recorded this Wednesday, the 22nd. “I’m available if I’m asked for advice, otherwise I’ll separate myself completely from the management of the Cevital Group,” he announces.
For the first time in half a century, the Cevital group that grew under his wing, which he has defended year after year against upheavals and of which God knows there are many, will have to do without him.
The moment is certainly strong, crucial. But he saw it as a step that still had to happen without worrying. “I’m not worried. I’m not worried about the successor. On the contrary, today we have more opportunities to train,” assures Issad Rebrab.
“Cevital will keep moving forward, investing, creating wealth, exporting. These are the instructions I gave. We have projects that have just started, others are under construction and others will be launched next year,” he adds.
He relies on his son Malik, the new boss, who is supported by the talents that the company has within itself. “All Algerians,” Issad Rebab wants to clarify.
“You have to look for great talent, but if you look closely you will find it,” he adds.
Its most important criterion is integrity. But Issad Rebrab prefers to put it in a typically Algerian formula: “A son from a good family is always a son from a good family. “.
“For in reality, he declares, there can only be wealth in man. You can only be successful if you have good people. That’s one of the keys to his success, but not the only one. “The Magic of Big Thinking”. He repeats this formula many times in two hours while realizing that it is not his.
“The enemy is fear and ignorance”
The rise of Issad Rebrab is not meteoric, as we can hear here and there. The man really started “small”, after a difficult childhood in Taguemount Azouz, near Beni Douala in Tizi-Ouzou, under colonialism, in a modest family at that.
Participation in a small metal processing company, creation of Profilor in the early 1970s, Metal Sider 20 years later, then Cevital and its various subsidiaries from 1998. During this journey that “was never a long river, calm”, the “magic of thought “. big” always worked.
For Issad Rebrab, it’s all about the mind. The first requirement for success is optimism.
That’s the advice he gives to young people. “You can’t be successful if you don’t believe you will be successful. The enemy is fear and ignorance,” he says. He proved that success in Algeria is possible. Can the country also be successful “together”?
The state is the same, he lets go without hesitation. “People have to think positively together. All, without exception, can shape their destiny through their minds. Politics has nothing to do. The most important thing is to direct people’s thoughts to the good. If all Algerians are optimistic, the rest will be easy. In Algeria, the possibilities are endless,” he explains.
One thing leads to another, and Issad Rebrab provides another key to his group’s success: “I’ve always, always, always reinvested. Our DNA is a permanent investment. We’ve been getting results since 1971, we pay most of it into the state budget, the rest is systematically reinvested. We don’t even distribute 1% of our results. “.
But that’s not all. The private group has also started to diversify. In addition to the core business of agri-food, Cevital has subsidiaries in household appliances, flat glass, logistics and other activities.
Issad Rebrab has worked and invested for 55 years to build the largest private Algerian group, one of the most important in Africa.
His greatest pride? “Having created so many jobs. »
And here’s his answer to the inevitable question for every new retiree: “I’ve traveled a lot, but now that I’m free I might go around the world”. In his retirement, Issad Rebrab is resolutely pursuing “the magic of thinking big”.