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I believe in walking the talk, in being what we want to bring.


For this month's interview, we're delighted to have Seneit Debese, CEO and Founder, Greta & Starks Apps GmbH. Seneit was also a mentor in the V edition of the UNIC Women's Cinema Leadership programme.

Here she shares her thoughts on her leadership journey and gives some advice to her younger self.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR DAILY HABITS THAT KEEP YOU INSPIRED AND MOTIVATED.
Working in the cinema industry, being with people, collaborating and launching new idea within our international network is inspiring and motivating in itself. We have great partners both from the cinema industry as well as very nice collages from distribution, exhibition and of course our very nice users, people who love cinema and can access a screening with our app GRETA as a blind or deaf cinema lover or the seeing and hearing international audiences, who enjoy screenings in their favourite language.

WHAT IS GREAT LEADERSHIP IN YOUR OPINION?
Great leadership is first of all for the leader to work every day on themselves. A great leader is for me someone who really walks the talk, who is deeply centered on their own power and is able to humbly serve the team, the purpose and even the bigger vision. Great leadership needs a resources leader, who can lead from this energy with a clear and embodied empowering mindset and with compassion and connection. A great leader helps the team to grow and equips them with what they need to exceed their current performance. 

WHAT WERE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU ENCOUNTERED THROUGHOUT YOUR LEADERSHIP JOURNEY?
It took me some time to understand my real needs, wishes and boundaries as a leader, to be honest with myself, so to be able to cultivate this energy also within my team and with our partners. It was a challenge not only to understand a mindset of how to create profound and meaningful performance and growth opportunities and a 'everything is working our perfectly'-approach but really live it and be it. And of course I am still learning and expanding. 

WHAT HAVE BEEN THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES FOR YOU AS A WOMAN LEADER IN THE SECTOR?
I am not sure, whether it is because I am a female entrepreneur, but for me it used to be difficult to be really honest with what I wanted. I tended to avoid conflicts sometimes. Some other times I censored myself with the goals I had. I am glad that I evolved to be a clear strong leader. Concerning the sector, I am happy that the cinema industry is continuing to pick up the relevance of accessibility and audience development with international foreign languages audiences more and more. 

HAVING A DEMANDING ROLE, HOW DO YOU BALANCE YOUR WORK AND PERSONAL LIFE?
First I consider my work, the impact we bring as my life, my personal life. It is deeply meaningful to me, to contribute to a valuable life/cinema experience for others. 
And I enjoy going to the movies after work, which is pleasure, work and recreation for me. Other than that, I do Zen buddhist KungFu and I love mediation, breath work and general body work sessions. I treat myself from time to time, which again pays into my authentic, clear and conscious leadership for accessibility. I love to serve this purpose, which I consider as an act of love and a task bigger than me, which I can only accomplish with our fantastic partners from distribution like Steffen Schier and Tonis Kiis from Warner, exhibition and my team. 

WHAT ARE THE CURRENT CHALLENGES FOR COMPANIES WHEN IT COMES TO ENSURING AN INCLUSIVE CULTURE AND AN INCLUSIVE LEADERSHIP?
Good questions. For me the current challenges is to find individual partner from distribution, film festival and broadcasting stations who personally and in their profession buy into this vision and have the power to decide accordingly. Our current goal is to make all existing barrier free or dubbing version available to not only one or two markets but to many several markets. There is a huge opportunity to leverage existing e.g. English AD to all countries, where movies are screened mainly in OV or original with subtitles or facilitate synergy effects by providing Spanish or French dubbing to Spanish and French speaking audience outside of Spain and France. 

AS AN EXPERIENCED MENTOR, WHY DO YOU THINK MENTORING IS IMPORTANT? DID YOU HAVE MENTORS ALONG THE WAY?
Mentorship can be in my experience very helpful to access the mindset, energy and knowledge of the things we want to accomplish in the future. We can learn from great leaders how they happen to be extremely inspiring. 
Of course I had mentors. Currently I 'observe' Melanie Knox and Lefko Horner from Paramount, as they are extraordinary visionary leaders in our industry and I am grateful that I can work and learn from them. 

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO CURRENT MENTORS AND MENTEES?
I don’t believe in advice. I rather believe in walking the talk, in being what we want to bring. I don’t think anyone needs advice, I rather believe in being open to recognise the magic, skilfulness and dedication everyone is bringing already and I love to watch out for the great things to come especially our female leaders in our beloved cinema industry and I am glad to be inspired and learn from all of them/you. I believe everyone is already a fascinating personality / leader full of solution, knowledge, experience and passion for our greater mutual goal. 


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