Employee Spotlight: Farid Zerbo, Associate

Meet Farid Zerbo, Associate, and LEED Accredited Professional. Farid is from Burkina Faso, a country in western Africa, and immigrated to the US in 2012 with his older brother. He attended community college in Philadelphia then furthered his studies at the Illinois Institute of Technology, where he earned his Bachelor of Architecture and Masters of Structural Engineering. He has called Chicago home ever since. Farid credits his father, an architect in Burkina Faso, for cultivating his interest in architecture and engineering. From a young age Farid would visit job sites with his dad and his first job was as an assistant on a construction site. With FitzGerald, Farid has recently been working on a multifamily renovation and several new construction projects.

Farid starts his day by working out then winds down in the evening reading or watching anime, his self-described guilty pleasure. He enjoys spending time with his family on weekends sightseeing, traveling, and trying new restaurants—he and his wife welcomed their first child last year.

Who would play Farid in a movie about his life? What work related accomplishment is he most proud of (a hint is in the photos)? What did Farid have to say about Burkina Faso? Find out the answers to these questions and more through today’s full Q&A linked below the images. We also invite you to get to know him further through his staff bio.

We took some time to get to know Farid, and here is what we learned:

What is one hobby you would love to get into?
“Camping and hiking. I always saw it as a relaxing activity; you can feel nature and the calm environment.” 

What is the best compliment you have ever received?
“You are unique in a good way.” 

What was your first job? 
“My first job was as an intern at a construction site where I assisted the construction manager and oversaw the day-to-day operations.” 

Do you have a favorite architect? 
“Francis Kere. He is known for his innovative works that are often sustainable and collaborative in nature.” 

What’s a work-related accomplishment that you’re really proud of? 
“The accomplishment I am really proud of is a design-build project I did with 9 other members in Puerto Rico. It was a rewarding experience where we learned and understood the construction process. It is rewarding to see the first project you designed come to life. When Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, we were thinking it would be perfect for a design-build project. We found a small community in Loiza, east of San Juan. There was a need for a recreational place in the community, so we designed and built a small pavilion where they can use it for activities such as yoga classes, an outdoor gym, or a gathering space. We also built a small barbecue for their gathering activities.”

If you could only eat one item for every meal for the rest of your life, what would it be? 
I would eat rack of lamb with mashed potatoes for every meal. 

Who is someone you really admire
Someone I really admire is my father. My father played a major role in my life for as long as I can remember. He influenced all facets of my life through his words, actions, and the way he raised us. My father is an architect, and I sometimes followed him to his work, to construction sites, and doing so developed a passion for architecture/construction in me at quite an early age. Because of that I always wanted to be an engineer or an architect.” 

Who would play you in a movie about your life? 
“According to my wife, Djimon Hounsou.” 

What is your favorite sport to watch, and which team do you root for? 
My favorite sport to watch is soccer, and the team I root for is Barcelona. 

What did Farid have to say about Burkina Faso? 
I am originally from Burkina Faso, which means “land of honest men”. There are approximately 60 dialects, and the White Stallion is the country’s national symbol. Burkina Faso is a leader in African art and culture and hosts the largest craft market in Africa. It is home to the largest elephant population in West Africa. The main export of the country is gold, followed by cotton and animal products. It is one of Africa’s largest producers of cotton. 

Is your wife from Burkina Faso? How long have you been together? 
My wife is from Burkina Faso. We have been together 8 years.” 

Are other members of your family in the US or still in Burkina Faso?
“My brother is in Canada and my parents and other family members are in Burkina Faso.” 

What is one thing that surprised you about working at FitzGerald? 
What surprised me is how open-minded, easy to talk to and easy-going people are.