At the head of a company of 10,000 people, Iranian Farzaneh Sharafbafi wants to break the clichés about women in Iran.



At the head of a company of 10,000 people, Iranian Farzaneh Sharafbafi wants to break the clichés about women in Iran. INTERVIEW.
While in Paris, the CEO of Iran Air has agreed to meet Le Point. Farzaneh Sharafbafi, a 44-year-old Iranian, runs this public company with 10,000 employees since July 2017. She is invited to Paris by the French-Iranian Center along with some 30 Iranian business leaders, this aeronautical engineer, whose maghnaeh black (strict sailing worn in a professional environment) slice with her sweet smile, answered all our questions, even the most disturbing: she intends to break the clichés on the Iranian woman.

The Point: Iranian and CEO ... is not it contradictory?

Farzaneh Sharafbafi: No, I do not see any contradiction. Why should this be the case?

Because, according to the Islamic law practiced in Iran, women and men are not equal in law. Therefore, it seems hardly conceivable that a woman could arrive at such a position.

Still, it is not recent. It has been more than a decade since I was General Manager of Iran Air. Beyond my case, a very large number of women in Iran are in positions of importance. Today, 17% of our managers at Iran Air are women. So we do not feel it's new or special.

So you do not feel like an exception in Iran?

I am an exception by nature (laughs). But I do not think that my appointment broke the taboo you describe. Do not forget that we have a large number of deputy ministers and vice-presidents in Iran who are women. For example, Ms. Laya Joneydi is Vice President, Legal Affairs.

But had President Rohani not promised in the campaign to appoint women ministers?

Well, it's true that I'm not a minister (laughs).

What path did you take to this position of CEO?

I have a bachelor's degree, a master's degree, and a PhD in aeronautical and space engineering from Sharif University in Tehran. I started working for Iran Air in 1994, twenty-three years ago. Initially, I was an instructor for technicians. I then became Director General of Research and Development, then Director of the Iran Air Training Center. That's when I joined the board. I was appointed Executive Director in April 2006, before becoming CEO six months ago, July 15, 2017.

Can the threats of new American sanctions brandished by Donald Trump have an impact on the payment of the Airbus contract?

It should be noted that there are specific deadlines for prepaying aircraft purchases. And it is on this basis that Airbus decides to produce the right number of aircraft in its assembly lines. So we have to make sure that we are able to get the funding to make prepayments. Otherwise, this will cause significant losses for both parts of the contract. What we are waiting for today is to find the best way to finance this purchase, with the cooperation of Airbus.

Can the threats of new American sanctions brandished by Donald Trump have an impact on the payment of the Airbus contract?

It should be noted that there are specific deadlines for prepaying aircraft purchases. And it is on this basis that Airbus decides to produce the right number of aircraft in its assembly lines. So we have to make sure that we are able to get the funding to make prepayments. Otherwise, this will cause significant losses for both parts of the contract. What we are waiting for today is to find the best way to finance this purchase, with the cooperation of Airbus.

Can new US sanctions lead to outright cancellation of this contract?

No, the contract was concluded (Iran Air had signed in December 2016 a firm order of 100 aircraft for an amount of about 20 billion dollars, Ed). Three aircraft have already arrived in Iran: an Airbus A321 and two Airbus A330-200s. Ninety-seven others must follow. Both parties have specific commitments and are eager to bring the contract to an end. Nevertheless, it may be that new limitations are imposed, I insist, on funders. But this will have no effect on the contract itself.

Is it the same with the American aircraft manufacturer Boeing, with which you also signed a big contract (80 aircraft for $ 16.6 billion)?

Yes, the conditions are the same as with Airbus. But it is clear that the Americans will make sure there are far fewer restrictions to fund the contract with Boeing.

Let's go back to Iran. Do you find that the situation of women has improved under the "moderate" presidency of Hassan Rohani?

Around the world, all societies are moving towards progress. Do French women dress today like forty years ago? Certainly not. Everyone is looking for progress, beauty, comfort. And the same goes for the new generation of Iranians who, as much as they can, seek to match their fashion to their criteria.