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“I am fortunate to be working with great individuals and leaders who are not just task masters, they do the work!” – Tolu Senbore

Tolu Senbore is a passionate administrator and Branch Manager at Filmhouse Cinemas Lekki who’s responsible for overseeing all operational and personnel matters and also developing business strategies , maximising productivity and ensuring that sales targets are met! Tolu has been in the industry for over 5 years and have been privileged to have worked in five out of the nine branches of the Filmhouse Limited. Read on and be inspired by our Q&A feature with her!

Share a little bit of your background with us.
I started out my career in guest services at Impulse Craft Enterprises, a tourism outfit in Lagos in 2007 and also worked in food production at SCNL Lagos for about two years as an administrator working with very notable restaurant and hospitality brands and airlines, . I ventured into the cinema industry shortly after youth service in 2012, my background at my previous engagements pretty much eased me into my new role however this was bigger and was with Filmhouse Cinemas in Ibadan as a cinema manager. The knowledge of dealing with notable brand and people and conformity with high operational standards came in really handy when I got my new job.

What are the key strategies in your role in pushing the Filmhouse Brand?
As a business manager at Filmhouse Cinemas, my main strategies border around being commercially aware of the business, constantly learning and relearning when necessary, investing in the talents that support and help drive business at my business location and ensuring the workplace is enabling for each of them to perform maximally.

There was not really any specific training required however vital knowledge and specific skills are required. The cinema business requires an individual who is self confident, very knowledgeable and business oriented; an ability to work with a wide variety of people is also an added advantage. When I joined, I was able to settle in quickly with the help of my business manager and in-house trainings and manuals designed for new recruits.

What’s it like being a female in your industry? Need to work extra hard to prove self?
I honestly have never payed attention to ”being female” that is how cool working at Filmhouse is. The culture is very inclusive and enabling with more focus on personal development and efficiency more than gender. I think we even bully the men because we can. Being a female in this industry actually makes me really proud especially when we look at how the cinema/ film business is largely dominated by men. Gone are the days when you mention about ten male stakeholders in the film business before you manage to hear a female name. Now I can effortlessly mention several notable female doing amazing and leaving their marks in this industry. Mo Abudu, Kemi Adetiba, Omoni Oboli, Joke Silva, Shaffy Bello, Dakore Egbuson, Lala Akindoju, Somkele Iyamah, Toyin Abraham, Adesuwa Etomi-Wellington. There are days where I have met really difficult guests and clients who clearly expect the manager should be a man, thankfully I have what it takes to change their minds.

How do you manage your day?
Managing my day is such a task especially in a demanding sector like ours. I would not say I completely have it all mapped out but I endeavor to write down tasks and to do lists in order of priority and actively delegate to enable me focus on set goals. I also try to rest as much as I can.

What are some of the specific challenges you encounter?
There’s the challenge of micromanaging where it’s a little difficult taking myself out of the day-to-day activities and fully taking on supervisory responsibilities. This has its advantages but largely leaves important tasks unattended to and limits my strategic prowess. There also used to be the challenge of not getting accurate data that informs you of how well the business is performing in comparison to other competitors.

How have you managed to be consistent being a part of building one of the biggest brands?
Aligning with the company vision and basically taking ownership of the business I am responsible for has been a contributing factor to maintaining consistency. Also I constantly ask “What would this cost the business?’’ this helps me take decisions that are only advantageous to the brand and enhancing for our brand integrity.

What’s the most interesting part of your work?
There are several interesting parts of the job, seeing team members who knew next to nothing become forces that constantly drive the business, the limitless access to film, the events, glitz and glamour, fun colleagues etc

How does your work impact society at large?
I don’t think the reason I need to work harder in the industry is based on my gender. It’s not even a criteria for me. I only want to work harder because there is a relevance that my person and role as a business manager requires and must communicate and it is one of the ways I appraise myself.

What do you do if you find yourself stuck in a rut creatively?
I react to being stuck in several ways. I used to beat myself up and constantly doubt my competence but I have managed to explore the options of asking for help from my superiors, (it is amazing how Kene Okwuosa and Moses Babatope take time to teach and empower their talents), friends and colleagues, sometimes I rest it out and other days I just leave it alone and reset.

I am fortunate to be working with great individuals and leaders who are not just task masters, they do the work! Managing such a huge brand comes with really high expectations and responsibilities too. I have enjoyed freedom to express myself. This has fostered great individuality and a higher sense of ownership and responsibility. I have enjoyed an enabling work environment at Filmhouse Cinemas and the good thing is it’s only just getting started. I’d like to believe there are squads and yes a strong workplace culture. We work hard and play hard at Filmhouse.

What advice would you give your younger self?
Hmm to my younger self, Live your best life and know that the only limitation or motivation is YOU.

What advice would you give to females attempting to start out in your industry?
To females who hope to start a career in the cinema industry, Behind the lights, cameras, glitz and glam lies HARD WORK! Be open to all the opportunities and do not be afraid to ask for help.

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