Since its inception in 2017, mentors and mentees from the UNIC Women’s Cinema Leadership Programme have benefited from the UNIC Cinema Days as a place to reconvene, meet and connect with other industry experts and receive further support in their mentoring process. This year was no different, with the annual meeting taking place at the Radisson Blu Royal in Brussels before the official start of the event. As creating a community of women leaders that both inspire and empower is one of UNIC’s main objectives, participants of the first edition were welcomed alongside current mentors and mentees and the meeting was moderated by Monica Chadha, Senior Media Executive.
To kick off the mentoring meetings, UNIC always invites an inspirational speaker to share their insights and experiences on their rise to leadership. For this edition, we were delighted to welcome Madi Sharma, Entrepreneur, Author of the book Madi, no excuses and Member of the Employers Group of The European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels. Madi is a renowned international speaker, particularly in the field of female entrepreneurship, diversity and gender balance, who in May 2018 was listed as one of Apolitical's 100 most influential people in gender policy around the world.
After a discussion with Madi, each mentoring pair shared how they approached the programme and whether they encountered any difficulties in their journey so far. While UNIC provides guidance, it still leaves it up to each mentor and mentee to decide how they want to develop and build their relationship. Therefore, it is always interesting to hear each pair’s point of view in terms of the mentoring process, along with their own activities and agenda.
The programme grows together with mentors and mentees and their feedback on how UNIC can make their experience as rewarding as possible is crucial. This year, for instance, part of the session was co-developed with the mentees, with them deciding on the topics to focus on, which ranged from how to develop your own brand to how to balance your personal and professional life. Therefore, the open debate that followed addressed their questions and areas of interest, with mentors sharing their own experiences and advice.
To shine a light on other initiatives in the industry, French Exhibitor Eva Letzgus was invited to present her initiative, a Female Cinema Exhibitors’ Network in France to attract young people to and promote women in the profession. The meeting was followed by a networking lunch, where the group had the opportunity to further continue their discussion.
The next eight months promise to be even more exciting for the mentors and mentees, with them deepening their mentoring relationship and getting closer and closer to their objectives. Furthermore, additional activities will follow at the beginning of next year, such as a job shadowing exercise and a stretch project, an assignment recommended for mentees in order to go beyond their comfort zone. UNIC will be monitoring progress and doing everything it can to help facilitate the journey.
Thanks to all of our fantastic mentors and mentees for their dedication and motivation. This programme would not be possible without a group of inspiring women who are eager to give back to the industry and a group of outstanding female professionals willing to learn, grow and change the face of the cinema industry for the better.
About the UNIC Women’s Cinema Leadership Programme:
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. You can find more information about the programme and current participants here.
Programme Coordinator: Diana Stratan / email@example.com