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The SME Insights Forum: Your Roadmap for Success
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Dr. Debbie Kristiansen
General Manager- Bahrain IECC at ASM Global (APAC)


Dr. Debbie is an accomplished leader with more than 30 years of International experience in Venue Management, MICE Tourism and Events & Entertainment industries. Dr. Debbie is a Leader with an extensive understanding of public, government and private sector organizations with a proven track record of driving growth and successful business development.

Dr. Debbie holds an Honorory Professional Doctorate in Global Leadership and Management from EIU, Paris, France. Her career started under the leadership of MICE Tourism Industry legends; Ray Bloom, Paul Flackett and John Haynes in 1988 with Regent International Exhibitions and the launch of EIBTM Geneva, Switzerland. Following the sale of EIBTM to the world’s largest Exhibition Organiser; Reed International Exhibitions, Dr. Debbie took on the role of Group Director of Sales; MICE Global Events until rejoining Ray Bloom in 2001 as Vice President Global Sales with the launch of IMEX Frankfurt, Germany. In 2005 she moved to the Middle East to help establish the Bahrain Exhibition & Convention Authority, and later assuming the roles of Acting CEO and Deputy CEO for the Bahrain International Exhibition & Convention Centre, she then went on to become the CEO of events @ bahrain, a company established under the Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company.

From June 2013 until February 2021 she relocated to Dubai where she held the position of CEO Novo Cinemas, a well-respected brand that Dr. Debbie launched together with her team in May 2014 and which has since turned into the multi-award winning household entertainment brand that it is today, offering more than just a venue to watch movies, but an immersive state-of-the-art destination for a variety of event and entertainment options through strategic partnerships and organic growth whilst ensuring the highest level of customer experience and customer service. Novo Cinemas operates 23 individual locations and 238 auditoriums across four countries in the GCC including UAE, Bahrain, Oman and Qatar. Dr. Debbie’s vision and commitment have transformed Novo Cinemas into the regional go-to film entertainment & events hub it is today.

It is this level of leadership that has landed her among the Top150 Global Women in Leadership Award Winners 2022 , Top 50 Global Inspiration Women to look out for in 2022, one of Top 30 Most Influential Women in the Arab World 2019, Middle East Female CEO of the Year 2018 and UAE Woman of Substance 2018.

Respected by her peers and her partners, she has established successful partnerships with leading global brands such as Coca-Cola, HSBC, Jaguar Land Rover, Emirates Airline, Mastercard, Etisalat, IMAX, Dolby, Mashreq Bank, Bolshoi Ballet, Ooredoo and BeinSports.

Dr Debbie relocated back to Bahrain in March 2021 after having been appointed by ASM Global as General Manager for the new Bahrain International Exhibition & Convention Centre which will open in 2022 and will be the largest venue of its kind in the Middle East

ASM Global is the world’s largest and most trusted venue management and services company, spanning five continents with a portfolio of over 350 of the world’s most prestigious arenas, stadiums, convention & exhibition centres and performing art venues.

Awards and Accolades include:

2022 - 2nd Global Women in Leadership – Top 150 Global Women Leaders GCPIT

Top 50 Global Inspirational Women to look out for in 2022 -Prodigy Global Network & Titanium Magazine

2020 Most Inspirational Woman in Entertainment ME & Cinema Group of the Year 2020 - Middle East by Corp Today Magazine

2020 Top 50 Women in Global Cinema & Entertainment – Box Office USA and Celluloid Junkie

2020 LinkedIn 500 Global Influencer

2020-2021 Mentor–Dubai Women’s Establishment in collaboration with the Scandinavian Embassies of Denmark, Sweden, Norway & Finland

2020 – Mentor – UNIC Women in Leadership Programme

2019 CEO of the Year – Technology Innovation in Entertainment by SMB Summit

2019 Most Inspirational Woman in Entertainment Middle East

2019 Cinema Group of the Year Middle East

2019 CEO of the Year by IQPC 5th Annual Theme Parks & Entertainment Development Forum Middle East

2019 voted in Top 30 Most Influential Women in the Arab World

2019 Top 50 Women in Global Cinema & Entertainment – Box Office Magazine USA in collaboration with UNIC

2018 Middle East Female CEO of the Year Awards – CEO Middle East Magazine

2018 UAE Woman of Substance – Khaleej Times

2018 MEA Award – Best Cinema Theatre Chain 2019 and 2018 Middle East and Most Innovative Entertainment Experience - GCC

2018 -Top 50 Women in Global Cinema by Film Journal International & Celluloid Junkie

2018 Guinness World Records record holder - Largest Human Maze for the launch of Movie Maze Runner – Death Cure

2017 -Top 25 Women CEO’s in the Global Cinema Industry by Celluloid Junkie

2017 Most Innovative Cinema Chain Award by Comicon

2017 - ICSC Global Awards – Best Social Media & Online Community

2016 – Top 25 Women CEO’s in the Global Cinema Industry by Celluloid Junkie

2016 -MENA Digital Awards Best Use of Social Media

2016 - VIVA Best of The Best Nominee

2015 Asia Retail Leadership Award

2009 - The Arabian Power 50 (voted #49) 2009

2005 - AEO Excellence Awards 2005 - Best Trade Visitor Experience (IMEX 2005)

Agenda Sessions

  • Strategic leadership and its impact on organisational performance