Alejandro Aguilera, CEO, Cinepolis

Please share a profile on your field of business and how you came into your current role.

Cinépolis Cinemas is a Mexican company that was founded in Mexico in 1971. Today, it has positioned itself as a leader in the film and entertainment industry in Mexico and Latin America: it’s the world’s 3rd largest movie theatre circuit; the 2nd largest in terms of attendance; the 1st in terms of attendance per-auditorium, and the most important outside the United States. It’s also the world’s largest luxury cinemas exhibitor.

During my 16-year tenure at Cinépolis, I began my journey in finance and subsequently relocated to the region as its Chief Financial Officer. Since 2021, I have held the position of Chief Executive Officer for Cinépolis Gulf.

What are the challenges you perceive in your field of business and how are you planning to meet them?

The primary challenge I encountered when assuming the role of CEO was re-establishing trust among moviegoers following the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. Presently, our challenge lies in rejuvenating the cinema lifestyle among our customers. To tackle this, we’ve adopted a tailored approach by segmenting our customer base according to their movie preferences, economic status, and other factors.

It’s clear that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, and we’re observing these dynamics unfold uniquely across each of our cinemas throughout the region.

State three things that you could offer to help incentivise your team in their quest for excellence.

In our GCC operations, even though we are part of a global company, we function as a tightly-knit, small team. To incentivise excellence, I emphasise three key strategies. First, I ensure that each team member has complete ownership of their respective departments and tasks. This autonomy not only encourages a sense of responsibility but also motivates them to excel in their roles. Second, our industry is known for its fast-paced nature, where results are immediate. This inherent quality serves as a powerful incentive for our team, as they can see the direct impact of their efforts almost instantly.

Lastly, I maintain an open-door policy, welcoming ideas and input from all levels of the organisation, be it from department heads or cinema staff. This commitment to open communication ensures that every voice is heard and valued, creating a culture of inclusivity and motivation throughout our company.

How primed is the UAE as a hub for business and entrepreneurship?

The UAE’s status as a hub for business and entrepreneurship is exceptionally promising. What sets the UAE apart is its consistent growth trajectory. Across various sectors, there’s a perpetual influx of people, capital, and innovation. This dynamic environment creates a fertile ground for businesses and entrepreneurs to thrive. Whether it’s the strategic location, investor-friendly policies, or the diverse economy, the UAE offers a unique blend of factors that make it an attractive destination for both established enterprises and those looking to embark on entrepreneurial ventures. The UAE’s momentum in fostering business and innovation is truly remarkable and sets it apart as a prime hub in the region.

How has your organisation contributed towards the growth of the UAE under your leadership?

While we currently operate one cinema in Oasis Mall Sharjah, our expansion efforts are set to make a significant impact. We are eagerly anticipating the opening of our first cinema in Dubai, situated in Circle Mall, Jumeirah Village Circle, by the year-end. Looking ahead, our strategic roadmap includes the establishment of three more cinema locations in key areas around Dubai over the next two years.

These expansion initiatives not only extend our reach to a broader audience but also contribute to the economic progress and cultural vibrancy of the UAE, aligning perfectly with the nation’s continuous growth trajectory.

As a UAE corporate icon, what is the legacy you wish to leave for future managers and team heads at your firm?

My aspiration is to leave behind a legacy of commitment to excellence, innovation, and inclusivity. I hope to inspire our managers and team leaders to prioritize these core values in their leadership approach. I aim to instill a culture of continuous learning and adaptability, encouraging them to embrace change and harness it as a driving force for growth.

Ultimately, I aspire for my legacy to be one of a leader who not only achieved business success but also made a lasting impact by nurturing the professional growth and personal development of every individual within our organisation, ensuring that our firm continues to thrive long into the future