DR. DEBBIE STANFORD-KRISTIANSEN: An Empowered Woman Who Empower Others

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A woman of substance that exudes a great influence of positivity and optimism. A true example of a servant leader. An empowered woman that empowers others. 

Victor Magazine had a chance to interview one of the most successful  and accomplished female leader in the entertainment, events and hospitality industry in the Middle East

Dr. Debbie Stanford-Kristiansen.

  • Tell us something about yourself

My name is Dr Debbie Kristiansen, I’m originally from the UK from a place called Brighton & Hove, which is located on the South Coast of England approx. 1 hr from London. I have a Professional Doctorate in Global Leadership & Management from EIU, Paris, France and I’m passionate about people.  I’m also a huge F1 fan and have been since I was a child. I moved to the Middle East in early 2005 and spent 8 wonderful years living and working in Bahrain before relocating to Dubai to take the role of CEO Novo Cinemas but I’m now very thrilled to be back in my second home of Bahrain once again and to assume a Senior Management role with ASM Global, the world’s largest and most trusted Venue Management and Services company, spanning 5 Continents with a portfolio of over 350 of the world’s most prestigious arenas, stadiums, Convention & Exhibition Centres and Performing Arts venues. Our venues connect people through the unique power of live experience. ASM Global have recently been appointed the management operator on behalf of Bahrain Tourism & Exhibition Authority for the new Bahrain International Exhibition & Convention Centre (BIECC).  I’m extremely honoured and proud to have been appointed as the new General Manager – BIECC.

  • As someone working and being involved in the events and entertainment industry in the Middle East what have you observed on the changes and improvement around it?   

I have seen how resilient our industry is and how fast we have been to respond to market challenges, making sure to always remain connected with our clients and partners, ensuring emotional continuity and engagement, which is so important. I also feel we have become much more agile, creative and innovative. It all comes down to creating the right experience, an authentic experience, bringing the WOW factor at every opportunity but also considering sustainable practices are in place as part of our commitment to achieving net zero carbon in the future.

  • In your own point of view and based from your experience how do you see the future of lifestyle,  events and entertainment in the GCC region ? 

I think the GCC is leading the way, we have proven how creative we are, how adaptable, how innovative, it’s a journey that never ends, you need to always ensure you understand and know your client/customers and adapt to their needs. It’s all about the journey, the customer experience,  the authenticity, creating memorable moments, exceptional service levels and introducing innovation, sustainable best practices as well as building employee talent. It all comes down to that word EXPERIENCE and in order to be memorable,  lasting and impactful that experience needs to include the before, the during and the after.

  • On the other hand , can you tell us what your definition of leadership is? 

For me leadership is all about developing others, I see myself very much as a regenerative leader, I lead with purpose never with ego, for me there is no place for ego, I’m an empathetic leader, for me it’s about encouraging others, mentoring, building confidence, building skill set, listening, giving feedback, empowering. I have been very fortunate in my own career to have been blessed with wonderful mentors and amazing opportunities. I believe as a leader I have a responsibility to help mentor and develop the future leaders of our industry. It’s all about giving back and helping others, building a diverse team of people with different skills and strengths, where we all come together as One Team. For me Teamwork is the Dream work. I truly believe that.

  • As a female leader, what are the successes and challenges you have faced?

To be honest I have been very fortunate, I guess my biggest challenge I faced when I was first starting out after graduating, my intention was always to move into a career in Aviation and Air Traffic Control but unfortunately at that time, there were limited opportunities for women, so I had to rethink my whole future and what I wanted to do. It was tough because I felt dreams had been crushed but looking back now it was a blessing, otherwise I would never have had the amazing career I have enjoyed to date.  Getting into the events and entertainment industry has been amazing. I have had the opportunity to live and work in many countries around the world including Switzerland, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Hawaii, Australia and the Middle East. I have been truly blessed, and being a woman in this industry has never held me back, I have seized every opportunity that came my way and put my heart and soul into it. You have to love what you do and I absolutely love what I do. 

  • We at Victor Magazine believe that each one has their own stories of victories in life. Can you tell us something about your own story of victory? 

Well I guess my own story is the fact that I have been able to combine being blessed with becoming a mother to two amazing kids; Georgia 27 and Luca 16 as well as having a wonderful, diverse, fulfilling and successful career. I always wanted to have both and always believed that anything is possible if you really want it.  You have to be ready to work hard,  be open to embrace new opportunities and new experiences but always be passionate and committed in everything you do. You can have it all but It’s all about creating that work -life integration and what works for you. It’s always important to remember who you are, your heritage, your roots and to always treat everyone with mutual respect no matter who they are and to always remain humble. I’m very passionate about building diverse teams, developing and mentoring others, building skillset and encouraging others to follow their own dreams. Nothing gives me more pride than to see individuals grow and succeed.

  • With this victory story of yours, what can you advise to those who strive in creating their own success stories especially those who are just in their early years of their careers.    

Be fearless, have the confidence to believe in yourself, it’s never easy starting out but set yourself some personal goals, get yourself a Mentor, someone who will be there to champion your corner and support you on your personal journey. Having a mentor there to encourage, listen to you, motivate you and give you the confidence and support to believe in yourself, your ideas, your strategies can make such a huge difference.  Above all remember ”Anything is Possible” don’t allow anyone to tell you that you are not good enough because YOU are,  but you have to believe it and you have to be passionate about what you do or don’t do it at all.

  • Lastly, as we are ending the year 2021, can you give us your words of encouragement as we welcome the year 2022.   

We have all experienced some difficult challenging times over the last 18 months but together we are coming through the other side. We have so much to look forward to, new beginnings, new opportunities, we just need to embrace them, be bold, be thankful and be excited about the future and what lies ahead.

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