This Woman’s Work: Lena Tehrani, Bonnier News

Working women receive a slew of advice — lean in, lean out, be aggressive, but not too aggressive. We’re constantly inspired by the women who are paving the way and taking charge in the ever-evolving world of technology. Welcome to This Woman’s Work, a series highlighting how various women are advancing the tech industry, both professionally and personally. 

This month, we’re chatting with Lena Tehrani, Head of Programmatic at Bonnier News.

To start, we’d love to hear how you got started in the advertising industry. And more specifically, in programmatic.

Just like most recent grads, the path I was seeking after graduation was vastly different from where I ended up. After graduation, I sold online banners by segmenting them and then selling them to advertisers, which at the time I thought was a brilliant and innovative concept. After four years of diligent work, I became the CEO of that company, which really helped me hone my leadership skills. 

Fast-forward another couple of years and I was offered a chance to start at Bonnier News as a Project Manager in their advertising tech department. They were on the cusp of building out a new technology called programmatic and I jumped at the chance. For the past three years, I have been the Head of Programmatic at Bonnier and manage all of our sites and products. 

What a journey! What originally drew you to the company? 

Bonnier was looking for someone who wasn’t necessarily technical but could understand tech flows and systems. At the time, I was happily working at a different publishing house, but something in my gut was telling me I had to accept this role. I just couldn’t say no to an opportunity like that. It was a chance to work for one of the biggest publishers in Sweden — you don’t say no to that. 

Today, looking back, I am so glad I went with my gut. The journey has been insane in so many ways. Sometimes I can’t believe how much I have learned, how lucky I happened to be, and how programmatic turned out to be something that was just so right for me. 

Do you have any advice to women entering this industry on how to advance their careers? 

Always be yourself! You are where you are because you deserve to be there. If you learn to believe in yourself, and in the value, you bring to the table, you will be able to handle anything that comes your way. This is particularly valuable when you’re nervous and think you don’t have all the answers: look around and realize that no one else does either. Odds are, you know more than anyone else about your subject area, so why are you nervous? 

In the theme of handling anything that comes your way, what have been some of the greatest challenges you’ve faced in your career? How have you navigated them?

My biggest challenge has been learning to relax and take things as they come. In the past, I felt I had to control every minute detail and wanted to be included in every single meeting, decision, presentation, and hangout that had anything to do with programmatic. But as my department grew, and our revenue goals increased, this became impossible. I’ve learned to trust other people and their decisions. 

In full confidence, I’ve not fully mastered this skill, but I’ve definitely learned to trust my team and let go of that need for full control. 

To end on a fun note, what’s your favourite Swedish phrase?

“Ska vi ta en Fika?” Meaning, ‘Do you want to get a coffee and something to eat?’ The word “Fika” means a hot drink, a sandwich, and/or a sweet treat plus conversation. How cool is it that such a short word can mean so much? I love it.