Friday, August 7, 2009

Took a Reality Break with Cineplex

Heebonics took the opportunity to sit in yesterday on the Birthright Alumni Committee's August Bay St. Breakfast. Focused this time round on the entertainment industry the intimate and interactive discussion was held with Ellis Jacob. Ellis, the President and Chief Executive officer of Canada’s largest motion picture exhibition company, Cineplex Odeon Entertainment, shared with the alumni how he came to be at Cineplex in Toronto. He made two great exoduses in his life, first from Calcutta India's Jewish Community of 6000 to 8000 in 1969 he said and then from Montreal almost 10 years later after completing CGEP to Toronto where he went on to do a Masters at York University. Today in Calcutta Ellis told us there are a total of 20 Jews left from the 6000 to 8000, 15 of whom are over 80. CGEP for those who may not know represents the first stage of higher education in the province of Quebec.

Amidst telling us all about the struggles of Cineplex to emerge as the most successful movie exhibition company in Canada, he gave some great advice to all those in any industry vertical other than a service-based medical profession.

To achieve success, you have to believe in your business and posses an unwavering belief in your product. "Bigger is not always better, better is better", he professed; however, if you are bigger it is "better to be the big fish in a small pond than a minnow in an ocean". Ellis stressed, "Never listen to anyone who says it can't be done or it's a bad idea, risk taking has to be done for better or worse". Grow quickly though with any new effort, if the result is little to no success then pack it in and do not let it linger.

Reflecting on his 22 years in the business, even the success from a few failures along the road resulted from the demonstration of good ethics, good relations followed among contacts from the industry to those in the world of finance who continually helped him land on his feet. Having been involved with numerous mergers Ellis strongly recommended that you must always be mindful of your competition, do not sit idle. "If merging, merge quickly do not drag it out" and "it is always more advantageous to be straight up with news be it good news or bad".

In a very short time he gave all those seated in the board room of Cineplex's head office on Yonge a buffet of food for thought. When asked to what extent Cineplex will be involved if at all with the Jewish community of Toronto over the next 12 to 18 months, Ellis's response was that we should watch for screenings of upcoming productions from the Israeli Film Festival to be held in October. Once again theater's like the Sheppard Grande and Silvercity Richmond Hill will be among those venues selected to host the Toronto Jewish Film Festival's Chai parties.

In Photo from left – Adam Zendel, Leah Baruch, Dave Goodman,Elana Metter, Ellis Jacobs (President & CEO Cineplex Odeon Entertainment),Daniel Warner and Mitch Reiss

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