A Gold Medal Head of Business Development

Yohann Sberro (MPM ‘07) is bringing next-level environmental stewardship to his new role at consultancy and project management company Elan after contributing to France's 2024 Olympic effort.

Yohann Sberro (MPM ‘07) is excited for the 2024 Olympic Games, and not just because they will be in his home country of France. 

When fans gather to watch the world’s best athletes traverse the swimming pool or battle in the taekwondo competition, they’ll be doing so in facilities his company helped create. 

Yohann SberroSberro is the head of business development at Elan, a subsidiary of the Bouygues Construction Group. It was while working for the parent company that he became involved in truly Olympic-sized projects. 

“The 2024 Paris committee has set quite high environmental ambitions regarding the construction of the Olympic facilities,” he said. “I had the privilege to participate in the tendering process of three design-and-build projects involving a large part of timber construction.” 

In addition to the pool and taekwondo facilities, Sberro helped Bouygues Construction Group win the construction bid for one part of the Olympic village. Beyond the Olympics projects, Sberro spent 13 years at Bouygues doing work that aligned with his personal convictions. Now he's doing the same thing at Elan, where he started in September 2021. 

He credited Northwestern Engineering's Master of Project Management (MPM) program with preparing him to succeed in both roles.  

“The amazing thing about the MPM program is that it is designed to put you in situations where you must collaborate with people from many different backgrounds and mobilize collective intelligence to solve problems,” he said. “It taught me to keep an open mind, to argue but stay respectful of others’ positions to build consensus and find the best solutions.”

Those solutions with Elan focus on helping real estate companies and investors see the importance of limiting their environmental impact when creating new working and living spaces. 

Reducing a project’s carbon footprint is a socially responsible first step, but it alone isn’t enough. Project managers also must work to protect vulnerable species, limit the use of non-renewable resources such as water and sand, and reduce waste for a project to be truly environmentally acceptable. 

In those challenges, Sberror sees something important. 

“One big advantage of the construction industry is that most of our projects provide us with the opportunities to really impact all those vital indicators,” he said. “It might seem hard to do, but the good news is we already have many solutions to make our projects more sustainable.” 

Sberro helped Bouygues transform its focus from concrete construction to timber construction, and he advocates for his clients to put environmental impact at the same priority level as financing. He pushes for a different approach to supply chain management – one that focuses on developing long-term partnerships and solutions that can be implemented on a large scale. 

To recoup the added costs of these changes and further assist with environmental stewardship, Sberro promotes innovation, digitalization, and efficiency, and he leans on the lessons he learned in the MPM program. 

He said the program’s real-world scenarios prepared him for the challenges he’s facing today. 

“A construction project is something that cannot be achieved alone, so acquiring the capacity to adapt and collaborate effectively with any stakeholder was very valuable,” he said. “It helped me improve my presentation skills and build confidence. I learned to think outside the box and use my creativity when facing problems. All those lessons have saved me lots of time and effort since I started my career.”

Perhaps enough time to afford him a few hours to join the Olympics fans in the venues his company helped create. 

“I am really excited for the next Olympics to take place in France,” he said. “I’m just waiting for the tickets to start selling.”

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