“Manage your career yourself, otherwise someone else will”

“Manage your career yourself, otherwise someone else will”

Swedish Women’s Magazine, Hemmets Veckotidning and Femina are brands that were born in a different time, you can tell from the names alone.

They are publications that have been on the kitchen table in every other Swedish home for generations, but times change and media habits with them.

“We need to accelerate digital development, exchange skills and create new areas of income,” says Lotta CederbomCEO of media company Aller Media’s Swedish operations.

She is thus ultimately responsible for the above magazines as well as a large number of other titles on the Swedish media market.

The time-honored paper newspapers continue to be important for the media house, which with its 150 years under its belt is one of Europe’s oldest.

At the same time, the business increasingly revolves around influencers, podcasts, video, live shopping, PR, strategic communication, events, market analysis and “content”, to name just a few of the digital revenue areas that Lotta Cederbom has been involved in and developed during her nearly 14 years at Aller Media, of which the last two in the CEO’s chair.

Career in brief

1996 – First “real” job, at the hot media agency Mediacom, and the start of a media career that is still ongoing.

1997 – Group manager at fast-growing media agency The Media Edge.

2000 – Promoted to account director within the same business, and responsible for a large streamlining program in connection with a takeover. “An intense and educational time, and at the same time very tough.”

2009 – Advertising director, Aller Media Sweden, with digitization of the advertising business as the first assignment. Later commercial director and vice president in the same group.

2021 – CEO, Aller Media Sweden. “I am triggered by working in an industry that requires action and rapid transformation. We have tough challenges ahead of us and it is exciting.”

“When I started, it felt quite vulnerable, with all my eggs in one basket. We lived well on the subscription revenue from print (printed magazines, editor’s note), while the revenue from digital advertising was zero. Now upwards of 80 percent of the advertising business is digital. The number of revenue areas has grown from three to perhaps 50,” she says.

Lotta Cederbom comes from a family of entrepreneurs. Mother florist and florist, father entrepreneur in the construction industry.

From the age of twelve, she moved in to snap stems and mop floors in her mother’s shop, and occasionally also did the bookkeeping in her father’s construction company.

But there were absolutely no plans to follow in the professional footsteps of the parents.

The dream was to become a professional basketball player.

“I trained three times a day, started at basketball gymnasium in Södertälje and advanced to play at the elite level in SBBK. At the age of 16, I got the chance to audition for a few weeks in the USA. At my 166 cm and 45 kilos, I then had to face players who were two decimetres taller, and weighed 20 kilos more. And seriously realized that I lacked the physical conditions, that I would never be able to make a living from my sport. It made me quite depressed…”, says Lotta Cederbom.

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She switched tracks and was soon an enthusiastic young employee at a media agency, which was about the hottest thing around in the mid-90s.

When the offer on television and online exploded, the clients wanted help with their so-called media strategies.

“”Our leaders need support around rules, laws, communication and difficult conversations, to a much greater extent than what was offered to me at the time.”

“The media landscape was new, there were no manuals. I had to put in a lot of work trying to understand. Worked during the day, studied at night and evenings, and drove like that for quite a few years.”

A fast managerial career in the media agency industry led to Lotta Cederbom being headhunted for the CEO position at GP’s and Sydsvenskan’s new joint sales office in Stockholm in 2006. Two owners based in Gothenburg and Malmö respectively, two different corporate cultures, and not infrequently two different opinions about what should prioritized and achieved.

Educational, is the word she chooses to describe that experience.

“Going forward, I am cautious about entering businesses where there are several owners,” she says.

Lotta Cederbom.

Another lesson learned from years in the fast-moving media industry is that mentors and support functions are important when the going gets tough.

To stand alone, and largely without HR support, in charge of a large efficiency program with extensive redundancies, which happened to her in a managerial role around the turn of the millennium – she does not like that.

She has often been quite alone as a woman in management teams and among CEOs, even though the industry is dominated by women. But it has gotten better.

“The pandemic has shown that it is important to be seen to innovate and build culture, but also that it is important to be flexible, which can provide a better balance for those with small children and families. I think that is a prerequisite for more women to want to take leading positions,” she says.

For many years, Lotta Cederbom has also held a number of different board assignments, including as chairman of the agency network Ahead Group.

What is the best thing about your current job?

“All talented, passionate, committed employees. Plus the luxury of being able to work with such strong brands, which the audience has a relationship with and recognizes.”

3 career tips from Lotta Cederbom

  1. Decide yourself. “What do you think is fun? What do you want yourself? Manage your own career, or someone else will. And it won’t be as fun.”
  2. Network. “Learn more, find people who work in the industry you want to work in.”
  3. Find the driving force. “Applying for a managerial position because of the prospect of a higher salary and a company car, I think, would be wrong. You have to be true to yourself, and that includes seeing leadership as something special and a career in itself.”

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