IndustryMentoring Scheme

The UNIC Women’s Cinema Leadership programme is a 12-month cross-sector, pan-European mentoring scheme for women in cinema exhibition. The programme is rooted in the belief that gender-balanced leadership in cinema exhibition is imperative for business success, better governance and more equity in the industry.

Our key long-term objective is to broaden and deepen the talent pool for leadership in our sector and promote a culture of change within the industry that values growth and equal opportunities.

The initial pilot was launched at CineEurope 2017 to provide 6 ‘up and coming’ female cinema professionals with the unique opportunity to receive one-to-one career advice and guidance from a female senior industry executive recognised for her leadership and business success across the wider cinema landscape. The pilot was warmly welcomed by the industry and is now successfully rolling, with the third edition launched at CineEurope 2019.


More information on the programme is available here

Edna Epelbaum

CEO of Cinevital, Cinepel, Cinemont, Quinnie; President of the Swiss Cinema Operators' Association; Vice-President of UNIC

Montse Gil

Vice-President General Manager of Paramount Pictures, Spain

Veronica Lindholm

Managing Director of Finnkino

Corinne Thibaut

International Director, Cinema & Leisure at Coca-Cola

Dee Vassili

Executive Director, Group HR at Vue International

Sarah Lewthwaite

Managing Director, Senior Vice President EMEA Region at Movio

Edna Epelbaum

CEO of Cinevital, Cinepel, Cinemont, Quinnie; President of the Swiss Cinema Operators' Association; Vice-President of UNIC

Susanna Hermida Barbato

Executive Board Member at NOS Audiovisuais

Elisabeth Halvorsen

Chief Executive Officer of Bergen Kino

Clare Binns

Joint Managing Director at Picturehouse Cinemas & Picturehouse Entertainment

Mariam El Bacha

Chief Executive Officer of Cinepax Cinemas

Sarah Lewthwaite

Managing Director, Senior Vice President EMEA Region at Movio

Daniella Koot

Director Theatre Programming at Pathé Netherlands

Sofie Braet

COO of Cinionic

Nathalie Cieutat

Director of Programming at Les Cinémas Pathé Gaumont

Helena Eklund

CMO, Marketing at Filmstaden

Cathy Huis in 't veld-Esser

CTO/Co-Owner of Gofilex

Petra Rockenfeller

Manager at Lichtburg Filmpalast

Debbie Stanford-Kristiansen

Chief Executive Officer of Novo Cinemas

Olga Zinyakova

President, KARO Cinema Chain

Eva Maria Valles Novel

HR Director, Spain & Portugal at Cinesa

Georgina Broadhurst

Head of Corporate Sales & Advertising at Vue International

Maria Galvez

Head of HR at Yelmo Cines

Magdalena Lewicka

Finance and Reporting Director at Multikino S.A.  

Sandrine Liscia

Manager of theaters in Neuchâtel, Cinepel

Lucie Morvan

Assistant to the CEO at Yorck-Kino

Gráinne Peat

Policy Executive at UK Cinema Association

Lucia Anglade

Regional Cinema Operations Director at Les Cinémas Gaumont Pathé

Marieke Jonker

Head of Content at Vue Netherlands 

Delia Kyburz

Head of Marketing and Events at Youcinema

Anna Malaret

Real Estate Director, Southern Europe at Cinesa 

Sharon Reid

Director of Marketing and Partnerships at Cinema First Limited

Valerie Thoen

International Human Capital Director at Kinepolis

Laura Weber

Chief Executive Officer at Cinecitta Multiplexkino

Angeliki Angelidou

Cinema Manager at Cineplexx Multiplexx Thessaloniki

Sévrine Breil

Regional Director at Les Cinémas Pathé Gaumont

Susanne Fläxl

Managing Director at Cineplex Neufahrn

Anna Grunert

Market analyst at Helios

Louise McKenzie

UK Operations Director at Webedia Movies Pro

Alessandra Pavan Bernacchi

Senior Manager, Theatre Development, UK and Africa at IMAX

Rochelle Shanthakumar

CRM Campaign Manager at ODEON Cinemas Group

Hanna Szczepkowska

Management Assistant at Arsenal Cinema Tübingen

“Sourcing, engaging and retaining diverse top talent means that organisations must have in place a business culture that allows this to flourish.”

An interview with Vue International's Executive Director - Group HR and a mentor in the first edition of the UNIC Women's Cinema Leadership Programme, Dee Vassili.

As a pioneer mentor in the UNIC Women's Cinema Leadership Programme, what was your experience of the initiative and why do you think programmes like this are important for our sector?
Whenever you ask people to describe what has had the biggest impact on their lives, for the majority of times, they recite stories that involve individuals who have influenced them at some point in their life.  People we meet can have a lasting impact on us, both in a negative and positive way, which can ultimately contribute to the shaping of what and who we become. I totally support initiatives like the UNIC Women’s Cinema Leadership Programme as this creates an opportunity for talented women to come together in a safe environment, share experiences and learn from each other. It also provides the opportunity to meet inspirational female role models within our industry who have achieved amazing things and can have a positive influence on one’s thinking, as well as ultimately becoming part of a personal support network. 

At VUE you have incorporated coaching and mentoring initiatives meant to retain, support and promote top talent. How do these add value to the overall success of your company? 
Coaching and mentoring at Vue are part of a broader talent strategy and not standalone initiatives, as they can be powerful tools when used in the right context. The worst thing that can happen in any of our cinemas is to have them operating without strong leadership. If a General Manager resigns, we have to be able to react quickly and fill that vacancy. If there is a gap, it will quickly start to have a negative impact on the commercial success of that business unit. To address this challenge, we implemented a talent strategy that focussed on creating effective succession plans, supported by robust talent pools. Within 2 years of this plan being implemented, of which coaching and mentoring was a critical part, we reduced the appointment of external candidates into General Management vacancies from 80% to 20% and increased internal appointments from 10% to 90%. As well as reducing our recruitment costs, enabling upcoming top talent within our business to be nurtured and retained for longer, it also minimised the risk of exposing cinemas to periods of commercial instability.

In your opinion, what can cinema leaders do today to ensure a more gender-balanced industry in the future?  
Research and studies have shown that a high performing and diverse work force gives an organisation a competitive advantage. Valuing difference, wide ranging perspectives and complementary strengths can ultimately deliver more informed and effective business solutions. Sourcing, engaging and retaining diverse top talent means that organisations must have in place a business culture that allows this to flourish.  It is not about soap box speeches and initiatives. It is about ensuring that business policies, processes, infrastructures and working practices are all underpinned by clear principles that enable business decisions relating to people to be based on inclusion, transparency, objectivity and meritocracy. In today’s world, websites like “” and “”, where employees post anonymous reviews about their jobs and companies, means that businesses can no longer hide their internal organisational has become part of their brand. If a positive and effective business culture is created, organisations will by default attract and retain highly talented diverse individuals resulting in a well-balanced workforce.   

What advice would you give to female cinema professionals looking to take the next step in their career?
Be confident and believe in yourself. As you take on more complex and senior roles, the ability to deal with challenges that you may not have previously come across becomes a more regular occurrence. This can be daunting when you are looking at that significant next step in your career. It is also at this stage when that little voice we all sometimes hear in our head gets louder; trying hard to sabotage and convince you that you do not have what it takes to make that next step. IGNORE IT! Focus on the qualities and strengths that have got you where you are today......believe in them and your ability to take on that new challenge. The achievements that provide us with our strongest memories and personal growth tend to be those that took us completely out of our comfort zone so don’t shy away from them......get out there and positively seek them out.