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John Fredriksson

Hopping on what he believes is the next big thing in marketing, John Fredriksson, MSc alum and Brand Partnerships Manager at TikTok thinks that working for companies that are embarking on disruptive innovations early on in your career will pay off later. If the industry booms, your skills will be invaluable. If not, you can always fall back on your SSE degree.

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

In 2021, the year I joined TikTok, we became the world’s most downloaded non-gaming app in history. We reached 1 billion monthly active users twice as fast as our closest competitor. On top of that, we became the most searched-for website globally, even though we’re an app-based service.

Maybe you already knew this, but most of the largest advertisers in the Nordics don’t. This is where I come into the picture: it’s my job to make them understand and act on all the amazing marketing opportunities we offer. This involves prospecting clients, pitch presentations, campaign recommendations, optimizations, and learnings. And as results are delivered and trust established, the end goal is to build long and fruitful partnerships.

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

Joining TikTok was a strategic decision: I had spent a decade working as a brand strategy consultant and I was lucky to be surrounded by some of the brightest minds in the industry. Together, we created award-winning work for iconic brands such as Samsung, Cartier, Hertz, Absolut Vodka. But the haydays of brand strategy had passed: the industry was stagnating as budgets were shifting to digital marketing and it felt like we were swimming towards the waves while watching others surfing comfortably on top of them. So, I decided to catch a wave. A wave I think will become the next big thing in marketing. Time will tell if it was a good move and if I’m good at surfing. So far, it’s looking promising.

What excites you about your work?
Progress and performance. At TikTok I’m constantly being challenged by colleagues and clients. It can be painful and stressful, but also stimulating and rewarding. Perhaps not the answer you would expect, but I guess it has to do with my background as an athlete. You learn to love the pain, and the gains that come with it.
How do you think social media platforms will change (or change the way we consume information) in the next 5-10 years?
When doing predictions, a good place to start is to look at current key success factors and assume that those will accelerate and grow to shape the future. TikTok’s success is much thanks to the combination of the immersive experience, the interest-based algorithm, and its creator community. That’s why I believe that users will get drawn to the most immersive experience. An experience that adapts after your needs, with no friction or effort needed. And creators’/influencers’ power will only grow larger. So, I would double-down on entertainment with a social component, not the other way around.

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

I wanted to stimulate my left and right brain, combine business with creativity. At the end of my teens, I concluded that marketing is the best industry for combining those skills. I also wanted to stay in Sweden, as I had a professional contract with the athletic club I was competing for. So, the choice was simple. SSE was, and still is, the best place in Sweden to get a Master’s degree in marketing. I was lucky enough to get accepted.

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

Two things stood out to me. Firstly, SSE enabled me to be surrounded by lots of people way smarter than me. I’ve learned that I thrive in those situations, it pushes me to adapt and learn faster. Secondly, SSE is a door opener. The door is wide-open to the leading companies in the Nordics. During my studies, I was offered internships at L'Oréal, Acne Studios, Nordea, and Scania. Without SSE in my CV, I would never have gotten those opportunities that early in life.

Both factors helped me in my career journey. I’ve always made sure to have a highly skillful boss. From my internships, I got a better understanding of what type of company I wanted to work for and had more options to choose from.

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

Ten years as a brand strategist at three different agencies based in Stockholm and London. Then I joined TikTok.

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

Apart from the obvious – study to learn, not to pass exams, build a lifelong network, and exploit all internship opportunities you get – there are three things I would advise you to consider. Particularly if you want to excel fast.

  1. Select your employers like Cathie Woods picks stocks. Think big and bold. Early on in your career, work for companies embarking on disruptive innovations. Think innovation such as Bitcoin, Metaverse (not necessarily at Meta, rather gaming companies), Genomics, Web3 and Cloud, just to mention a few areas. A high-risk, high-reward play. If you get it right, your skills will be invaluable. If not, you can always fall back on your SSE degree.
  2. Do a Swexit as soon as possible. Meaning, move to one of the leading business capitals of the world (e.g., London, New York). During my two years in London, I developed twice as fast as in Stockholm. The stakes, the speed, the ambition – everything is higher. Your learning curve will be exponential.
  3. Work longer, harder, and smarter than your peers. There are few shortcuts to success. Unfortunately, I’ve noticed a pattern among the younger generation. They have high demands but are not willing to walk the extra mile. See this as an opportunity to stand out. Work at least one hour a day more than your peers. That learning will compound.

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

Professional & personal growth.