Debbie Stanford-Kristiansen, the CEO of homegrown cinema chain Novo Cinemas, has been named among the top five influential women in global cinema by leading online film and cinema resources, Celluloid Junkie and Film Journal.
Ranking at number four on the list, Stanford-Kristiansen is the only woman from the Middle East region to feature in the top five, beating off stiff competition from powerful figureheads from the likes of the USA, UK, France and Hong Kong. Celluloid Junkie praised Stanford-Kristiansen for continuing to prove that being a woman and foreigner is no bar to being a major business leader in the Gulf Region.
Commenting on her placement, CEO Debbie Stanford-Kristiansen said: “I am so proud to be an award winner amongst such a group of talented women from our wonderful industry. I’d like to thank my awesome Novo Cinemas team, none of this would be possible without their unbelievable dedication and commitment."
“I would also like to thank Celluloid Junkie and the awards committee, not only for honouring me in the list, but for also recognising the power and achievements of women in the industry at a time when there is intense spotlight on the roles of females in business”.
The judges cited Debbie’s push for innovation at Novo Cinemas, as well as her focus on amplifying the customer cinema experience, for her presence in the rankings. Over the past 12-months several of Novo Cinemas’ multiplexes have undergone extensive refurbishment including the flagship location in Dubai Festival City Mall and the UAE’s longest-serving community cinema, Buhairah in Sharjah. Additionally, Novo Cinemas introduced the region’s first frozen popcorn snack to its menu as well as achieving the Guinness World Record for the ‘World’s Largest Maze, Human Maze’ in support of the regional premiere of the film Maze Runner: The Death Cure.
On the horizon for the movie theatre chain is the opening of its state-of-the-art IMG Worlds of Adventure location as well as a move into franchising.
In the past year Novo opened a 12-screen cinema at IMG Worlds of Adventure, including one Imax and three seven-star VIP screens, with further multiplexes scheduled for Wafi and Oasis malls, as well as several multiplex refurbishments. Future challenge for Novo will likely be to compete for entering and share of the newly opened Saudi Arabian cinema market.
As an accomplished leader with more than 25 years of experience in the entertainment, events and hospitality industries, Debbie Stanford-Kristiansen joined Novo Cinemas in 2013 and is a CEO with an extensive understanding of public, government and private organizations.
Prior to Novo Cinemas she served as VP for Global Sales at Regent Exhibitions - IMEX Frankfurt, before moving to the Middle East to help establish the Bahrain Exhibition & Convention Authority where during her tenure, she quickly rose to the position of Deputy Chief Executive by 2008. In 2010 she was appointed as CEO of events@bahrain, a company owned by Bahrain Mumtalakat Holdings Company, where she spearheaded significant growth despite the challenging economic landscape.