Schibsted Tech Talk – Security and AI

Intro

Inro

When? December 15, 17:00 – 20:00 CET
Where? Västra Järnvägsgatan 21, Stockholm

 

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👨‍🏫 Talk #1How Schibsted protects our journalists and customers” – by Ralph Benton, Chief Security and Information Security Officer at Schibsted

Ralph will walk us through how Schibsted is continuously working on improving the security for employees and customers. With close to a billion monthly visits on Schibsted websites, such as Aftonbladet, SvD, Blocket and Lendo, ensuring that all the Schibsted services and products are secured is crucial. Making sure the security and safety of journalists, both physically and digitally, is equally important, especially when it comes to protecting the journalistic work digitally and on the ground in high-risk areas such as the current war zone in Ukraine.

👨‍🏫 Talk #2Large Language Models in AI – How OpenAI’s Whisper enables real-world applications in Schibsted” – by Daniel Pleus, Data Scientist Lead at Schibsted

In the last few years, large language models revolutionised modern AI. One of the most recent examples is OpenAIs Whisper which massively improved automatic speech recognition (ASR). Daniel will provide insight into how Whisper is not only a technically impressive model but also a great enabler for real-world use cases. He will present various exciting projects from Schibsted, such as interview subtitles, transcription and podcast analysis. 

After each session we will have a Q&A session. Snacks and 🌭 and 🍻 and 🍭 are provided.

The meetup will take place on the 15th of December in our office in Stockholm. Please note that the number of places is limited and that the event will be held in English.

Meet the speakers

 

Ralph Benton – Ralph has more than 20 years experience in Information Security, IT Security and IT Auditing with a demonstrated history of cybersecurity work in both the engineering, healthcare industry as well as the media industry.

Daniel Pleus – Daniel is a Data Scientist Lead in Schibsted. As part of the AI Enablement team, he supports Schibsted’s brands to start their own AI use cases. Before that, he worked for eBay in different roles across data, analytics and machine learning.

 

 

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Drink & Mingle

Tech Talks are not only about tech. We take care of social aspects of the event as well. During breaks, and after the presentations you can meet new people with different backgrounds, share your experience or… talk with our employees from the Schibsted family of brands.

About Schibsted Tech Talks

Tech Talks is a series of free meetups and workshops to share knowledge, exchange experience and meet like-minded people.

Please note that during the event, we might take general photos that will be published on our social networks and website Schibsted.com for promotional and marketing purposes. For portraits and more individualistic photos, we will ask your consent before taking the photo. The data controller of your shared personal information is Schibsted. You can find more information about processing this data on our Privacy Policy page: schibsted.com/privacy. If you want to object to the use of a photograph in a certain way or you would like to withdraw your consent, you may do so any time by contacting us via this email: ta@schibsted.com

 

From Bahrain to Oslo – “I applied and gave it a shot”

From Bahrain to India, to Singapore, and finally Oslo – Clayton Don Corda has found his place. He works as a Talent Acquisition Partner at Schibsted and has been working with recruitment, employer branding and HR for the last 14 years.

He is a valued and appreciated colleague among his peers and has had a quite unique journey to where he is now. But why Oslo? What’s the biggest cultural difference? And what are his secret tips for building your personal brand on LinkedIn?

Hi Clayton, please tell us about your background
I am an Indian who was born in Bahrain in the Middle East, then grew up and did my schooling in Mumbai, India. I moved to Singapore for my master’s, and worked there for 14 years before making my move to Oslo, Norway earlier this year.

How did you end up in Norway and in Schibsted specifically? Working for a German company for the last 7 years, I have had multiple opportunities to visit and work in Germany and that grew my interest in working in Europe.

As my Sister has been living in Norway for 4 years, it was one of the options I considered to be close to family and I happened to reconnect with a friend working at Schibsted and saw that they were hiring for a TA Partner, so I applied and gave it a shot.

What’s the biggest cultural difference from your previous residence?
For me, the biggest cultural difference was the work-life balance. People are focused when it comes to working but after work hours people don’t message or email you as compared to my previous residence.

From a personal perspective, I think learning the language would help to integrate a lot easier although English is widely spoken here, and learning the language will help you understand the nuance and culture better as compared to where I lived previously.

Clayton and some of his team members in the Talent Acquisition Team.

So you work as a Talent Acquisition Partner – can you describe your role and scope?
As a Talent Acquisition Partner, we partner with business leaders to attract the best talent out there in the market.

In my case, I support the Data & Tech area. We engage and advise hiring managers on their application and together we try to identify the best talent for their teams.

You work a lot with personal branding, especially on LinkedIn. Why is that important?
People follow People. I think I have overused this sentence now, but I think it’s really important to put yourself out there from a personal branding perspective, as people like to follow personal journeys and take inspiration from that. It could probably both help you land a new job and from a company perspective, it also allows people and talents to see the culture the company has.

Can you share your best tips when it comes to starting, and build, your presence on LinkedIn?

  • Make sure you have a complete and updated LinkedIn profile, whether it is a basic or premium one.
  • Post consistently. Don’t care too much about the likes on your posts, while it is important for engagement, you will create an audience sooner or later.
  • Talk about your area of expertise, share your experiences and personal journey that people can relate to.
  • Connect and engage by commenting or liking posts that you feel are relevant to you and help build your network.

 

Discover the backstory of Pride Month at Schibsted

While it may seem that, in the 20th century, everyone is fully entitled to feel free to be themselves, there are still people among us who are being refused that right. Every day Schibsted works towards our mission to empower people in their daily lives, but we also have an important mission to empower people to be themselves.

In a company with 6000 employees, you will find a wide variety of people. The sense of belonging for everyone in the organisation is a subject that is on top of the agenda for many employees. One of them is Paweł Szonecki, Employer Branding Specialist at Schibsted, who organised Pride Month at Schibsted in June this year.

How did the idea of celebrating Pride first come to your mind?

The overall story is pretty prosaic. On 1 July 2021, I joined Schibsted Poland. At that time, due to the pandemic, all parades in Poland were postponed until August and I found out that we weren’t planning on being involved. I truly believe in the importance of supporting the LGBTQ+ community by participating in equality parades and raising its voice, so I took it upon myself to change that. After discussions internally we were granted permission and a budget to participate in two parades organised in cities where Schibsted Tech Polska has offices – Krakow and Gdansk. I was unaware that these would be the first equality parades for the entire Schibsted.

And what is the reason behind the decision to take this initiative globally?

Following the local success in Poland we decided to come up with a way to organise Pride Month globally for our entire organisation. Since our company operates in 5 countries (Poland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Finland) and covers more than 60 brands, it became a large project. We involved colleagues from different areas of the company to participate in the project to do something that would make our company demonstrate solidarity and support for the LGBTQ+ community.

The project has a personal meaning for me. As a homosexual person in Poland, I know that only by increasing the visibility of LGBTQ+ people in the public space, are we able to improve the current situation.

Will you tell us more about the initiatives?

Our objective was to attend parades in some of the major cities where Schibsted has its seat: Krakow, Gdansk, Stockholm, Oslo, Copenhagen, and Helsinki. At each, a representation of the company appeared in branded T-shirts and banners. In the course of the work, we also came up with the idea to organise the first Schibsted Pride Day – a day to educate employees about equality and LGBTQ+ rights. But not only – it was also a time for our colleagues who belong to this community could share their stories, experiences and be heard. All employees stood up to their responsibility, not only by demonstrating their support but also by celebrating this meaningful month together with Schibsted’s LGBTQ+ community.

For example, in Stockholm, our project turned into a big party on the roof of the office building to celebrate the first day of summer and Pride Month at the same time, and in the Oslo office there was a banner several metres high with the theme of our action. We carried out all activities under the common motto: ‘Empowering people to be themselves’.

It was an important milestone to show solidarity towards the LGBTQ+ community and show everyone that there is a place for them within the structures of Schibsted – we can be who we want to be regardless of our feelings or who we love. We had a great time while feeling grateful and happy to be part of this together.  

Can we attract talent in the same way we attract customers?

My name is Lena Berlin Stålhammar, and I have worked in Schibsted for soon-to-be 10 years in different positions connected to talent attraction and acquisition. Today I work as Director of Employer Branding and Talent Programs.

One thing I’ve learned is that talent attraction needs to be prioritized and seen as a long-term investment, which is not always the case. So what if we think about talents the same way we think about customers, would business leaders look at this differently then?

A customer journey is complex, looks different for different customer segments, and depends on a solid corporate brand. Everyone knows it takes a lot of time and effort to build relationships with new prospects, maintain a customer base and work with customer care. And we also know that it takes marketing efforts to succeed. Every organisation with a product or service to sell has a marketing function and a dedicated budget. That is just a given!

Let’s have the same mindset regarding talent attraction. Because the way I see it, we are also selling a product. Our product is our employer brand, and our customers are the talents. The employer brand (just like a corporate brand) is something that every organisation has, regardless of if you communicate about it or not. It’s the reputation you have as an employer in the talent market. And then we have employer branding, which is about showcasing and visualising the employer brand to talents; it’s the process of promotion and marketing. When you look at it like that, it makes sense to invest time and money in Employer Branding. 

I know what you’re thinking, “Where do we start?” So, first, we need to identify who we want to attract. Who our customers are. Out of that, our communication and content need to be adjusted and targeted to that talent group. What do they want to know about us, and what is essential for them in a future employer as we can deliver on? The next step is identifying where we can reach and engage with them, on what social platforms they are, relevant conferences, universities, forums, networks, etc. 

Now the hard work begins; we have a target group and the right platforms, but how do we cut through all the noise in the talent market? Step one is to build awareness, make us visible and let them know we exist. And when we have their attention, we must engage with them. We need to keep them warm and continuously interact with them to “sell” the product of us as an employer of choice, which is done through relevant and engaging content and activities. And last but not least, the secret weapon that removes the clouds from the clear sky: brand ambassadors.

In the same way we lurk, dig, read reviews, ask our network, and research new restaurants, hotels, products, and services, we do the same when considering joining a new employer. Recommendations and endorsements are mega important, if not business critical. Therefore, authentic stories from employees are worth a thousand paid marketing campaigns. So one of the most crucial keys to success is our employees. We are all important ambassadors to tell and share the employee experience and give the employee’s perspective on workplace culture. Everyone can do something, and we want the same thing – to have the most skilled and competent colleagues on the market, right?

Schibsted Tech Talk – Open source

Join our meetup to learn from open-source experts, and how to restore your Game Boy cartridges!

Open source is a really great thing, and we depend on it. Through the years, Schibsted has released several open source projects that are used by people and companies around the world, but we would like to do more – we want to give more back! So, we’ve spent time with many colleagues to make a strategy for how we all can contribute more to open source in Schibsted. Now, that’s done – and we’d love to share this with you!

When? November 24, 5:00 – 7:30 PM CET
Where? Akersgata 55, Oslo

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👩‍🏫👨‍🏫 Talk #1 “How to do more open source?” – by Zuzanna Zygadlo-Stenberg, Technology Strategy Lead and Johannes Gorset, Director of Engineering VG.

“Open source is a really great thing, and we depend on it. Through the years, Schibsted has released several open source projects that are used by people and companies around the world, but we would like to do more – we want to give more back! So, we’ve spent time with many colleagues to make a strategy for how we all can contribute more to open source in Schibsted. Now, that’s done – and we’d love to share this with you”

👨‍🏫 Talk #2 “Pokemod – Restore your Game Boy cartridges” – by Hyacinthe Malaspina, Data Engineer.

“Even the old trusty hardware from the 90’s can (and will) fail at some point. This presentation is about a small modification that can preserve said hardware longer”

After each session, we will have 💬 Q&A session. Snacks is provided 🌭 and 🍻 and 🍭

The meetup take place on the 24th of November in our office in Oslo. Please note that the number of places is limited and the event will be held in English.

Meet the speakers

 

Zuzanna Zygadlo-Stenberg – Technology Strategy Lead at Schibsted, has a background in both software engineering and strategic management and loves working with skilled people. Motivation is harvested from learning something new every single day, not only at work but also during her free time and she now holds a fresh boat licence in her pocket! Did anyone say that winter is coming? Great! Zuzanna loves mountains and winter sports so much that she easily skips the playa and heads off to colder destinations all year around ⛷

Johannes Gorset – Director of Engineering at VG – has been part of the Schibsted family for 6 years now! What might come as a surprise to us all, is that Johannes doesn’t have a background within technology nor management – but as a very curious person he started his journey with folk music🎻 He appreciates his work as meaningful in the sense of doing something important for the world, and values all the great people he gets to work with on that! When Johannes is not busy digging into open source, you’ll find him operating excavators in his free time.

Hyacinthe Malaspina – Data Engineer at Schibsted. He has been part of the Data Foundations team for 3 years. With a big passion for electronics and tinkering in general, Hyancinthe is excited to share how you can restore Gameboy cartridges. Yes, he was an embedded software engineer in another life! 🚀

 

 

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Drink & Mingle

Tech Talks are not only about tech. We take care of social aspects of the event as well. During breaks, and after the presentations you can meet new people with different backgrounds, share your experience or… talk with our employees from the Schibsted family of brands.

About Schibsted Tech Talks

Tech Talks is a series of free meetups and workshops to share knowledge, exchange experience and meet like-minded people.

Please note that during the event, we might take general photos that will be published on our social networks and website Schibsted.com for promotional and marketing purposes. For portraits and more individualistic photos, we will ask your consent before taking the photo. The data controller of your shared personal information is Schibsted. You can find more information about processing this data on our Privacy Policy page: schibsted.com/privacy. If you want to object to the use of a photograph in a certain way or you would like to withdraw your consent, you may do so any time by contacting us via this email: ta@schibsted.com

 

A day with the CEO of Schibsted – a mutual knowledge exchange

How is life as a CEO for one of the most well-known businesses in the Nordics? That is something the student, Anine Johnsen, has found out. Anine is a young entrepreneur who got the opportunity to shadow the CEO of Schibsted, Kristin Skogen Lund, for an exciting day in October at our head office in Oslo.

 

Every year, Ungt Entreprenørskap in Norway carries through the program “Leader for a day,” where young, aspiring leaders are matched with a top senior manager of a relevant company or organisation. This year, the program presented 25 hand-picked young management talents from all over the country. The talents have had a Youth Business or Student Business with Young Entrepreneurship, and are selected based on their achievements.

By spending a day with the CEO of a well-known business or organisation, students learn the level of responsibility and the complexities required for today’s leading executives, while also getting a feel for how these leaders create value in their organisations. It is also an opportunity for CEOs to connect with- and better understand what drives the next generation. For Schibsted and Kristin Skogen Lund, it was an obvious decision to participate.

“I believe Schibsted, as a large company and employer, have a responsibility to share with young people what it’s like to work with us, and thus give them a glimpse of what the future can hold. But as importantly, it’s a very insightful experience for us. I always learn a lot when I meet people whose backgrounds or life experiences differ from mine. And I always find it really interesting to get a young person’s perspective on what we do.

A key takeaway is the sheer number of really good questions Anine asked. I’m impressed with her level of engagement and insights, and learned a lot about how we’re perceived among younger people, and how they view what we do and what we communicate,” Kristin says.

Anine Johnsen was matched to shadow Kristin for a day on the 20th of October. She is currently in her last year at Ski VGS, where she is enrolled in general studies with Entrepreneurship as an elective subject.

“We started the day by planning the next “All hands” meeting for all Schibsted employees. Thereafter, I observed a meeting about the annual outlook Future Report 2023, which was very interesting. After having lunch, I got a tour of Finn and VG to see how they function and how they operate. The day ended with a panel discussion about “Eliter I endring” where Kristin participated,” Anine says.

The aim of “Leader for a day” is to give young people a glimpse into the leadership role and motivate them to take the step themselves.

“I got a good insight into what it is like to be a top leader and how much important work Schibsted does. It was a hectic day, but also very interesting and valuable. I met a lot of competent people throughout my day at Schibsted and I gained a lot of experience. I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to participate in “Leader for a day” and I had a really good time with Kristin and her co-workers,” Anine says.

“We need to put learning at the top of the agenda”

For Anna Zlatkovic, Head of Learning & Development at Schibsted, there is no doubt that learning needs to be at the top of the agenda for a company to stay competitive. Anna herself is a living example of the possibilities to develop and walk on career depth.

She started working for Schibsted in 2016 as a Global HR Manager for Product & Tech. Since then she has had various roles, and today she is heading up a team of Learning business partners and Talent management specialists.

Why do you think it’s important for a company like Schibsted to have a learning culture?
The ever changing world demands that we constantly improve our products and services faster than our competitors. Can an organization improve without first learning something new? I don’t think so. Continuous improvement requires a commitment to learning, whether it’s about solving a problem, introducing a new or improved product, or reengineering a process. In the absence of learning, companies and people simply repeat old ways. Historically we have focused mainly on upskilling, helping employees build skills and perform well in their existing roles. Today we see that a large number of people will need to learn new skills to remain employable, so called reskilling, as the market changes so rapidly.

In order for Schibsted to attract and retain talents, we need to give our employees the possibilities to learn and grow. We believe that our ability to learn, and translate the learning into action rapidly, is an ultimate competitive advantage. Becoming a learning organisation is a strategic choice to create a company that fosters knowledge sharing, growth mindset, resilience and innovation. To make this happen we need to put learning at the top of the agenda.

Do you have any favourite initiatives?
We have several exciting initiatives, one is the Schibsted internal mentor program. The purpose of the program is to strengthen Schibsted’s current and future leaders and specialists focusing on personal and professional development, as well as networking and getting to know the larger Schibsted organization.

Another initiative is Grow, a toolbox to make sure we challenge our talents according to aspirations and readiness. It sets a standard for managers and employees to have good conversations about growth and to develop through feedback. As an employee in Schibsted you have many possibilities to keep on developing and to create a long term career across our different brands. We have a variety of professions and nationalities to explore, and Grow can really make that happen.

What’s on the table looking forward?
We will soon implement Schibsted Learning, a platform where employees can find a variety of learning content, but also interact, upload and share lessons with colleagues. This can really contribute to a culture of knowledge sharing and collaboration, and I know that having a good opportunity to learn and grow has a high impact on employee engagement.

Learning and networking: From Bergen to Stavanger, Oslo, and Stockholm

My name is Mathias Sagevik and I study for a Master’s in Laws at the University of Bergen. I am a part of Schibsted Connect 2021*, a mutual mentorship program where students are connected with employees at Schibsted. Let me tell you about my key learnings and findings so far.


For the last few months, it feels like I’ve been on a journey far and wide in the Schibsted system. It’s been a journey where I’ve learned about the inherently practical nature of business, the inner workings of one of Scandinavia’s most exciting companies, and all while creating a network along the way.

Business is not theoretical
There are many things in business that are hard to get a grip on from a theoretical viewpoint. Or, at least it makes a lot more sense when you get the chance to discuss real-world cases and stories.

In the Schibsted Connect program, among other things, I’ve learned how to structure a business deal with Disney+ and Netflix from a Business Developer in Tv.nu. I’ve learned how to do better product development by using milestones and beta-testing from a Strategic Project Manager in Schibsted Next, using real-world examples. And I’ve learned about the customer journey from a Sales Manager in Stavanger Aftenblad. How to discover the customers’ needs, tailoring the solution, and making sure the customer increases its sales.

These things are inherently practical, and learning about them through stories and discussions with professionals in Schibsted has been a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

The inner workings of an exciting company
Further, it’s been great to get insights into how a big and exciting company is organized. Schibsted consists of close to 50 companies in one ecosystem. How does all this fit together? How exactly can one person in one company reach out to another person in another company to do a project? How can one Schibsted company benefit from the competence and resources of another Schibsted company? How does one align the course of all the companies?

An especially exciting part of Schibsted is the Schibsted Next division, which invests in startups and scaleups. Kind of like a VC firm, but not entirely like it. How do they invest? How much do they invest? Do they participate with competence or only money? What type of companies do they invest in? How do they find companies to invest in?

Networking in an international company
While I’ve been on this learning journey, I’ve been able to network with professionals across the different Schibsted companies. A cool part of this journey has been that most of the people I’ve been talking to are based in Stockholm, Sweden, while I’m based in Bergen, Norway. The participants from Schibsted in the Connect program have been generous and welcoming and are always ready to take a meeting to discuss whatever questions I might have.


*Schibsted Connect is a mutual mentorship program where you will be connected with a Schibsted employee as your buddy. The idea is that, through meetings and activities, you will mutually share each other’s thoughts, ideas, and experiences. This is a win-win relationship. You get the chance to get inside Schibsted and build your professional network, and we have the opportunity to get your fresh eyes on things. 

Let’s connect and grow together! Click here to read more about Schibsted Connect.

Embracing digital recruitment

How we created an innovative, thorough, and precise recruitment process for our trainee program, without meeting anyone in person.

The Schibsted Trainee Program has attracted young talents from multiple countries since 1997. We receive hundreds of applicants each year, but usually, only six to eight candidates make it through the loophole. The recruitment process consists of several rounds of testing, group exercises, and interviews.

The sudden occurrence of a global pandemic created an immense task: How do we give a thorough and fair evaluation of all the candidates without meeting in person? Is it even possible?

It is not the first time Schibsted has had to deal with a disruptive change happening overnight. Like the switch from print to digital news or the dotcom bubble before it, we did not merely overcome a seemingly destructive shock – but used it to improve and grow.

For instance: Our need as an employer is to recruit top talents that are best suited for the job. We should not, and do not, care for any other characteristics. We know, however, that human biases easily skew the view of a candidate. If a candidate resembles the interviewer, research tells us they are more likely to get the job.

Can we use digital tools to minimize these biases and inconsistencies? We believe so. And we are going to show you exactly what we did. Let’s start from scratch, although the most exciting part comes later.

Selection and interviews with anonymous applications

As usual, the first step in applying for a Trainee position was the application itself, with a resume and grades. However, we did not accept any cover letters, and everyone fulfilling entry-level requirements (such as finishing a Master’s degree or similar) proceeded to the next stage.

At this point in the process, the recruiter did not know anything about the applicants. Not their name, gender, which universities they attended, or their work experience.

Next, the applicants were subjected to an online test on logical thinking. Those performing above a threshold moved on. Admittedly, there is nothing novel about this particular step.

“But wait! Does that mean grades didn’t matter?” you may ask. A B from Harvard is probably more prestigious than an A from a community college? How about someone with extremely relevant experience?”

This brings us back to the problem of human bias. As an employer, you do not actually care about a grade as a letter written on a fancy piece of paper. You care about what it tells you, and especially about the applicant’s ability to learn and logically apply new information. We believe the test we used uncovers exactly that. The initial scan of the candidates’ grades and resume was merely an entry ticket. It doesn’t matter how prestigious a school the applicant went to is – their performance does.

Then, the applicants received a video-interview with pre-recorded questions. The evaluators did not see the applicants, removing factors such as body language, appearance and gender.

We used an online escape room instead of a physical assessment center

After the interview phase, a selection of applicants was invited to a digital assessment center. This is the exciting part. In previous years, the assessment center has been a physical gathering with groups solving and presenting business cases in addition to personal interviews.

There are a ton of potential biases here. For example, there are bound to be differences in the candidates’ knowledge of the industry in which the business case is set. Just by chance, some candidates might be able to infer several useful analyses by heart, while others have to create arguments on the fly. This does not only affect the outcome but the group dynamics as well.

Our new solution was a digital, online escape room game. While on a video conference, groups of four played an online game much like an escape room. They had to complete several tasks, which were only achieved by working together. Each participant had different parts of the overall clues and solutions. Observers evaluated their team dynamic and performance.

Such a tool removes the problem of prerequisite knowledge and creates a level playing field. Observers and candidates alike have stated how much they liked this way of assessment.

Schibsted is committed to a diverse workforce and an unbiased recruitment process. It would be foolish to believe we are perfect in every area, but we believe this digital transformation has sent us lightyears forward on the path to true unbiasedness. We continue to strive towards this goal.

A selected group of candidates have been invited to a final digital interview. We wish them the best of luck!

Click here to read more about the Schibsted trainee program.


Schibsted trainees, started in 2020

Schibsted trainees, started in 2019

 

Schibsted – a perfect match for their thesis

How did two Industrial Statistics master students from Umeå University in Sweden experience writing their master thesis at Schibsted during the spring of 2020?

Are you a student with your master thesis ahead of you, or are you simply looking for an exciting opportunity to get professional development? Here’s your chance to be inspired by Alexandra Hägg and Amanda Flöjs, two master students in Industrial Statistics at Umeå University, who wrote their master thesis at Schibsted during the spring of 2020.

Despite the ongoing pandemic, not only did their project have the potential to create a lot of value for Schibsted and a Swedish newspaper within Schibsted, it also turned out to be a great personal experience and professional opportunity for the two students.

When Alexandra and Amanda initially started discussing what kind of thesis they wanted to write, they concluded to do a project within data (since their master focused on data analysis and statistical modelling) with the customer in focus. Schibsted, with its incredible amount of data and customers, was rapidly considered a perfect match.
They were given the chance of working with Schibsted’s Machine Learning team in collaboration with a Swedish newspaper within Schibsted. The topic of the thesis was to try to develop a statistical model to learn more about the newspaper’s digital subscription service churn. In other words, by using predictive models they tried to identify users’ behavior patterns that drive them to unsubscribe.

After several weeks in the Stockholm office and a couple of weeks of remote working (due to the pandemic), they came up with some interesting conclusions. With the help of statistical models their work showed that it is possible to predict which users are in the risk zone of ending their subscription. However, it is difficult for the model to generalize a specific behavioral pattern for the “active subscribers” and those who choose to unsubscribe.
“As long as the model is trying to predict human behavior, it will always be difficult,” Alexandra comments.

They also saw that the variables describing the frequency of use (i.e. how often a user uses the service) had more validity than variables describing the user’s activity in volume (i.e. how many articles a user reads). These are all very useful insights for the Swedish newspaper.

In addition to the results of the thesis results, the experience was fulfilling in several ways. We asked Alexandra and Amanda about their time in Schibsted:

What has it been like writing your master thesis at Schibsted?
Amanda: ”It has been extremely fun and developing. We felt welcome since day one, and we are so thankful to our supervisor who supported us all the way.”
Alexandra: ”I totally agree with Amanda. In addition, we worked with an exciting project that made the weeks go so fast.”

What did a “normal” working day look like for you?
Alexandra: The first six weeks we were in Schibsted’s Stockholm office, where we started each morning with a cup of coffee to go through the TODO’s. Then we often had a sync with either Patrik, our supervisor at the university or someone else at Schibsted. The rest of the days was all about modeling, analyzing and drinking loads of coffee. When we moved home due to the corona pandemic, the days looked very much the same. The only difference was that it took place in either Amanda’s or my apartment instead.

How has the corona pandemic affected your work?
Alexandra: After six weeks, the corona pandemic forced the whole Machine Learning team to work from home. It definitely affected us and our way of working together with them. However, working remotely and running meetings via video calls has gone surprisingly smooth.
Amanda: The result of our thesis was not that much affected by the pandemic. However, the pandemic has delayed the testing of our model in the business.

What was it like collaborating with your supervisor?
Amanda: Our awesome supervisor, Patrik Trelsmo is part of the Machine Learning team. We had regular meetings every week where we discussed and got help to sort out all our thoughts around the project and how to approach different problems. In addition to that, Patrik was always available for spontaneous questions or to support us in programming questions.
Alexandra: Yes, and I would also like to emphasize that everyone in the Machine Learning team has been very supportive and helpful.

Do you have any advice for students with a master’s thesis ahead of them?
Amanda: When it comes to choosing your project and company, my best advice is to choose the option that has a well-defined project and where you will have a committed supervisor who knows that he or she will have time for you.
Alexandra: I couldn’t agree more. I also advise you to dare to trust your university knowledge and not to be afraid to ask if there is something you do not understand!

What is your next adventure?
Alexandra: I will start as a Schibsted trainee in August and my first placement will be at Aftenposten in Oslo
Amanda: And I will also be a part of a Trainee program at SEB.

Thank you so much for the amazing work you have done. We wish you the best of luck!

Meet more of our people and read more Schibsted stories in Schibsted Future Report