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Cecilie Chen

Extracting data from movies and TV series using AI, Cecilie Chen, COO/CFO at Vionlabs and SSE alum enjoys the 'doing' attitude of the startup world and credits this to her exposure to new ideas and innovative ways of working she was exposed to during her Masters.

Describe your role and what it is that you do overall and on a day-to-day basis.

I am the COO/CFO at Vionlabs AB, which is an AI scale-up that extracts the data from movies and TV series automatically. It is also the largest “data gene bank” for entertainment video content globally. The data are such as genres, keywords, emotional impact, time stamps for intros, recaps and end credits.

I am in charge both the business operations and Finance which means that any aspects that will directly affect the business processes: this varies from product definition to customer onboarding, from recruitment to culture building.


What interested you about the field/company/role you are currently in?

3 things that make me love what I do:

  1. The tech: Being exposed in front of forefront development of AI.
  2. The role: COO is a broad role where I get to work with all people and all parts of the business, sometimes you learn from the engineers on how to use python!
  3. The team commitment: A small company that is trying to change how we do things in an old industry, it requires everyone in the company to go that extra mile to make the business successful. And I really enjoy the commitment in making a big positive impact in the current industry.


Why did you choose to study your subject area at SSE?

  1. The strong brand that gives theoretical knowledge with a strong focus in practicality, that’s the first thing I noticed when I was selecting schools around Europe.
  2. The program/education fit me well. I wanted to be able to “speak business language” after studying journalism. And this program gave me a great starting point in business sense.


How did your time/education at SSE help guide you to the career journey you have embarked on?

  1. Find my passion: During my studies at SSE, I studied different business cases and also did some course projects with different companies, such as Google in Stockholm. The projects were very much focused on new business ideas, new innovative ways of working so it triggered my curiosity in working with “changes and/or creating something new”. So when I graduated I landed in the center of “creating something new” – Stockholm’s start up ecosystem.
  2. Be more open: I appreciated that at SSE I met different people and I learnt a lot from classmates in terms of how to be open to different opinions and how to share feelings/emotions. This gave a good foundation in my career to build strong relationship with colleagues.


What path did you take from graduation to where you are now?

I did a summer internship in Nordea Equity Markets (thanks to the recommendation from SSE!) and summer part time projects with a media entrepreneur (thanks to a SSE classmate Joe!) before I started as a Business Developer in Acast, which was a 5 months old startup when I joined. I grew with the company as the Global Head of Business development where I was in charge the strategy and international expansion from Sweden to UK, US, Australia and other countries. In this role I helped the company to grow from 15 to 150 people in 4 years. I then transitioned to management consulting, focusing on tech & innovation for large corporates such as SEB, H&M, Vattenfall etc with Epicenter’s advisory team. And now I am COO/CFO in Vionlabs to help the company build more products and scale faster!


Following your time studying, do you have any words of wisdom or advice you would like to share with our current students?

1. The more you give, the more you get. Believe in it.

The more I study the more knowledge I get, the more knowledge I get the more I feel I know too little. That’s exactly how a fast-learning curve will make one feel. So stay humble & calm when you only see successes!

2. Stop talking, start doing.

In the start-up world, time is a scarcity. So if we want to learn something new, let’s do it immediately and reflect the day after whether we should continue or not. “I can do it tomorrow” has very limited positive impact in life. 

3. Never give up an opportunity just because of fear.

I was afraid and super nervous in speaking publicly and SSE is a great training place for a change. So just take the opportunity to make a change if you have no bad reasons other than fear.


What are three words that sum up your time at SSE?

Commitment, friendship, change (in a good way).