UNIC Women’s Cinema Leadership Programme – Second Edition

By Diana Stratan | July 30, 2019 2:57 pm PDT
UNIC Women's Cinema Leadership Programme

CineEurope 2019 marked the end of the second edition of the UNIC Women’s Cinema Leadership Programme. While the programme continues with a new cohort of mentors and mentees on board, we wanted to exchange thoughts with two of our graduating mentoring pairs to hear their fresh views on the programme and their mentoring journey.

First we have some thoughts from Mariam el Bacha, CEO, Cinepax, Pakistan (mentor) and Lucia Anglade, Operational Director in charge of Pathé Brand Implementation, Les Cinemas Gaumont Pathé (mentee)

UNIC: What was your motivation for joining the programme (as a mentor/mentee)?

Mariam: I was excited to expand my network and get to know women in cinema in different continents. I’ve started noticing what UNIC does in Europe and I was excited to be part of their world too.

Lucia: When I first heard about the programme, I thought it was a great opportunity to meet women facing similar challenges in different countries. As I evolve within the French exhibition industry, I sometimes feel we are too self-centred on our specific concerns and we could improve by adopting a more global perspective on our line of business. My aim was to meet someone inspiring who could give me guidance and broaden my vision of cinema exhibition, and it was fulfilled by meeting Mariam.

UNIC: How did your mentoring relationship evolve? Do you feel you got closer to your mentoring goals set 12 months ago?

Mariam: First of all, the selection of my mentee couldn’t have been more suitable. Both due to the coincidence of the nationality but also the disparity of our business models and approach. This made the entire mentoring programme exciting because it helped me learn and understand a business that in Europe, and particularly France, is run in a very different way from Asia. We did a session together where Lucia had to discover her vision and set her goals for the programme over the year. After that, it was Lucia that set the rhythm with a topic for each session, a different one every month. At the end we were more like friends, listening to each other’s ideas, concerns and suggestions. And that is what I miss today!!!

Lucia: Mariam and I have a lot in common and I think we share the same vision of the job. At the beginning of the programme, we talked a lot to define our mentoring goals and to establish a list of all themes I needed to receive advice and feedback on, both on a professional and a personal level. Each talk allowed us to go into detail and explore my concerns as a young professional. Our discussions covered every aspect of daily matters in cinema operations, constantly improving my ability to make the right decisions in my current position.

Mariam el Baca & Lucia Anglade
Mariam el Bacha the CEO, Cinepax in Pakistan (left) was a mentor to Lucia Anglade, the Operational Director in charge of Pathé Brand Implementation, Les Cinemas Gaumont Pathé

UNIC: We know the process goes both ways; what did you learn from your mentor/mentee?

Lucia: I learned a lot from Mariam’s experience that she shares so generously. Discussing her point of view on key topics gave me a better insight into exhibition’s actual issues. The programme also offered me a better perspective of global exhibition models and opened my eyes to my career possibilities. Mariam really is a role model for me and I would dream to have a career like hers.

Mariam: I’ve learnt a lot about the organisation of the business in France. The country is heavily regulated, however, it is a success story. Lucia is also part of the committee for movie classification, so she would tell me about what the rules on the movies are and how they all agree on a classification. I find that very interesting as in many countries in Asia, exhibitors don’t have a chance to be part of this. I’ve also learned about new technology, and how she analyses ROI, it is similar to what we do, but there the process varies and it is more thorough.

UNIC: What was the highlight of the programme for you?

Mariam: I think we clicked when we met in Brussels for the UNIC Cinema Days and we spent a day of cinema touring around Brussels. (Yes, it sounds lame, it probably is but we had fun pointing out the same things and walking and talking a lot while we were at it!)

Lucia: The programme offered us two great opportunities to meet with all mentors and mentees in Barcelona and Brussels. Although I would have loved to see Mariam in her work environment, it was not possible for me to go to Pakistan. Instead, we decided with Mariam to spend time together while we were in Brussels for the UNIC Cinema Days and we spent a Sunday visiting every cinema in town. It was the best way to exchange our views and to share our visions of the ideal cinema. The day was really the highlight of the programme for me!

UNIC: Would you recommend the programme to your colleagues in the industry? If so, why?

Mariam: Yes! Participate! Engage! Connect! Open your network! Open your heart! Listen! And give back! I’ve been very blessed in this industry; it is important that I give back and pay it forward and help to open opportunities for other ladies to lead the way.

Lucia: I sure would, and I already did with my colleague from Pathé who is participating this year. Before the programme, I think I had not realised how much we need to support each other as women in our line of work.

UNIC: What’s next for you?

Lucia: Since the beginning of June, I have been applying a lot of Mariam’s advice in my new position as Director in charge of converting cinemas to the Pathé brand.

Mariam: Focusing on reviving the cinema industry in Pakistan takes time and devotion…and Karachi wasn’t built in a day…

Sarah Lewthwaite & Deliah-Victoria Kyburz
Sarah Lewthwaite, the Managing Director, Senior Vice President EMEA Region
at Movio (left) was a mentor to Deliah-Victoria Kyburz, the Founder and CEO of Deliverse communication and Coaching

Next we spoke with Sarah Lewthwaite, Managing Director, Senior Vice President EMEA Region at Movio (mentor) and Deliah-Victoria Kyburz, Founder & CEO, Deliverse communication & coaching (mentee) to get their opinions on participating in the UNIC Women’s Cinema Leadership Programme.

UNIC: What was your motivation for joining the programme (as a mentor/mentee)?

Sarah: I am acutely aware of the gender imbalance that unfortunately exists within our industry and believe strongly in the need to develop and promote more women into leadership positions. When I heard about the UNIC mentoring scheme, I immediately thought it was such a positive initiative to empower up-and-coming female talent and I wanted to get involved.

Deliah: There is no opportunity in Switzerland for continued education in the cinema business as, for example, the UCLA Extension offers. That’s why I saw it as a huge opportunity to be accompanied directly by an industry expert. My goal was to develop my knowledge, so that I can actively contribute to a sustainable future as an exhibitor. Besides this, I was already looking for a mentor to help me gain new perspectives on what my next career steps could be.

UNIC: How did your mentoring relationship evolve? Do you feel you got closer to your mentoring goals set 12 months ago?

Sarah: I think that Deliah and I had an immediate connection which only strengthened over time. We both share similar values and both have an ‘entrepreneurial spirit’ which meant she was quite open to my feedback and advice for her from day one. That being said, Deliah did come to me at the beginning with a very clear vision for her career; I was simply helping her to map the steps to get there.

Deliah: I started with goals that should strengthen my position in the company and benefit my employer. Sarah reversed the whole process. We first focused on my own vision and as a second step tried to bring it together with my current role and the vision of the company. We have more than surpassed my goals because Sarah gave me a much wider perspective of the cinema industry, allowing me to think bigger and see where I could go in the long term.

UNIC: We know the process goes both ways; what did you learn from your mentor/mentee?

Sarah: I have learned a lot from this programme and from Deliah. Her lust for life and confidence in herself is contagious and taught me that if you believe in yourself and your career vision, others will believe in you too. I believe a lack of confidence in one’s self is often what holds people back from realising their full potential.

Deliah: Sarah is an outstanding leader. Her style of leadership and how she works with her team to motivate them and to support them to achieve high levels of performance was something that I was deeply impressed by. Sarah has years of industry experience and combined with her emotional intelligence it makes her a respected leader. Through her, I have learned to set realistic and motivating goals. I’ve developed better self-confidence and trust in my abilities. She opened her network to me and showed me what other job opportunities there are in the cinema industry. Together we laid the foundations for my next career step and, by the end of the programme, things started unfolding.

UNIC: What was the highlight of the programme for you?

Deliah: Sarah invited me to London for a job shadowing exercise. I was allowed to attend internal team meetings, meet her colleagues and work with them in the office. I accompanied Sarah to an industry event, which was great for networking and gaining an insight into the UK film business. I was impressed with how Sarah leads her team and how much breeding ground she provides her staff with, in order to develop and give their best. Every monthly call with Sarah was of high value and the trip to London was actually THE highlight. It also gave our mentoring relationship a new depth and strength.

Sarah: Hosting Deliah in London was a real highlight. While video-conference calls are useful, nothing beats face-to-face communication. She got to be a part of my world for a few days, spending time with my team and colleagues, which I think was valuable for her. She also got to see a bit of London and our cinema-landscape here which was fun!

UNIC: Would you recommend the programme to your colleagues in the industry? If so, why?

Sarah: Absolutely. While I felt a great deal of responsibility in being a mentor, it has also been a very fulfilling experience both personally and professionally. Aside from the positive experience I have had working with Deliah, I have been able to meet so many other amazing and talented women in our industry through this programme. It’s a great network to become a part of.

Deliah: Oh, I definitely would! I’ve been working in the film industry for 13 years and I’ve never felt so supported than in this mentoring programme. I’ve felt, seen and heard. I’ve got a sparring partner in the development of my career. The expertise and experience of my mentor, Sarah, helped me become a better leader myself. None of us is board-ready, but with the help of a mentor you will get as close as possible. There is the saying “If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten. If you want something different, you have to do something else!” And that’s where the success of mentoring lies. I will always be grateful to UNIC and Sarah Lewthwaite for this opportunity.

UNIC: What’s next for you?

Deliah: I’ve started my own consulting and coaching business. With my experience in marketing, coaching and customer relationship building, I strive to help exhibitors in Europe to turn their customers into fans and train employees to ensure customer service excellence. With this investment in staff, numbers will improve automatically and drastically. And I am looking forward to being a part of industry events as a keynote speaker, workshop leader and presenter.

Sarah: The UNIC initiative has inspired me to help bring a similar programme to life within Movio and the Vista Group office here in London. We are in the process of rolling out a programme aimed at providing additional support, mentorship and education to unrepresented voices within our organization. My hope is we can have a similar, positive impact internally as to what UNIC is doing industry-wide!

Diana Stratan