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The life of a CEO


Being prepared for daily changes and remembering to work hard, do your best and listen to others are some of the principles that have guided CellaVision CEO Yvonne Mårtensson throughout her career.

If Yvonne Mårtensson had her way, the only microscopes in labs would be in sealed display cases with other outdated equipment. The 20-year-old Lund, Sweden, based company is a world leader in the area of digital microscopy in hematology. CellaVision’s digital technology allows for faster and more detailed analysis of blood and other bodily fluids than peering at a slide under a microscope, speeding the diagnosis of illnesses.

“Our goal is to create a global standard that replaces the traditional manual microscopes in labs,” said Mårtensson, CellaVision’s CEO for the past 15 years. “We use image analysis, artificial intelligence and information technology. We want everyone to use the new technology instead of microscopes. It will save time and money and improve the quality of results. Using digital morphology, you can transfer images of cells to different people, they can work in different areas and it’s easy to transfer data to different people.”

Fascinated by technology

CellaVision’s success also has been recognized by its peers. In October 2013 it earned the award for best photonics and optics firm in Sweden from PhotonicSweden. CellaVision was honored both for its contributions to the laboratory medicine industry and successful business development. The chance to participate in creating a new platform in cell morphology is largely what drew Mårtensson to CellaVision. “I got fascinated by this new technology and the vision of setting a new standard in the laboratory world,” she said.

Work hard, do your best

Mårtensson, who has a master’s degree in industrial engineering in combination with a degree in business administration, worked in marketing for several medical technology and diagnostic companies before joining CellaVision. Her experience at other fast-growing firms helped her develop skills she employs at CellaVision. “It’s about being prepared for the transformations and daily changes that come with growth, and sometimes even living with organized chaos.” Remembering “to work hard, do your best, be honest and listen to others,” also are principles that have guided Mårtensson throughout her career.

Seeing the company grow

Maintaining effective communication with employees, investors and customers is one of the biggest challenges as CEO, according to Mårtensson: that means taking an active role in running and building the company and directly overseeing numerous employees, while at the same time being involved in partner discussions and presenting the company to the investor community. Besides creating and maintaining good communication, another favorite part of the job for Mårtensson “is seeing the company grow and also seeing the CellaVision employees grow with it.”

The common goals

Setting clear goals and involving people in company decisions are some of the best ways to motivate employees, Mårtensson has found. “Working in a small company means being visible, both in good and bad situations,” she said. “That means everyone can see their own contribution to the common goals. You must love that.”