Women 3.0: Sheryl Sandberg

Name: Sheryl Sandberg

Short biography: Sheryl Sandberg was born in Washington, D.C., in 1969. In 1991, Sandberg graduated from Harvard with a bachelor’s of arts in economics, and in 1995, she earned an MBA from the Harvard school of Business. Her first job post-Harvard was as a management consultant for McKinsey & Company, a management consulting firm. From 1996–2001, Sandberg served as chief of staff to then United States Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers. She is married to SurveyMonkey CEO David Goldberg; they have two children and live in Atherton, Calif.1

What they do: Since 2008, Sandberg has served as the chief operating officer of Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg took personal interest in her at a dinner party in 2007, when he realized that the growing company needed someone with experience to guide it into the future. Among other things, Sandberg, according to July 2011 The New Yorker Profile, “handles things Zuckerberg “doesn’t want to,” such as advertising strategy, hiring and firing, management and dealing with political issues. Basically, it seems, she’s the Facebook Mom, making the tough decisions and laying down the law. In the same profile, Zuckerberg described her duties as: “All that stuff that in other companies I might have to do. And she’s much better at that.”2

Why they matter:
Sandberg made international news in June of this year, when it was announced that she was joining the Facebook Board of Directors—and would be the first woman to do so. In a company press release, Sandberg was quoted as saying, “Facebook is working every day to make the world more open and connected. It’s a mission that I’m deeply passionate about, and I feel fortunate to be part of a company that is having such a profound impact in the world.”3

Sandberg has long been a proponent of women joining and excelling in the technology industry. In a talk at the 2010 TED Women conference, Sandberg “lamented the small minority of top corporate leadership and governmental posts held by women.” She also doesn’t pull any punches—Sandberg believes that women are part of the problem. “Women systematically underestimate their own abilities … The men are reaching for opportunities more than women. We've got to get women to sit at the table.”4

In an op-ed piece, she wrote: "We still haven't achieved the goal of real equality for women in the workplace and men in the home. We can—we must—do better."

Her other achievements and awards include:

  • Being included multiple times on Fortune magazine’s Most Powerful Women in Business list—in 2007, she was No. 29; in 2008, she was No. 34; in 2009, she was No. 22; and in 2012, she was No. 16.

  • Being named as one of Time magazine’s Time 100 in 2012.

  • Ranking No. 3 in the Evangelists category in the 2012 Newsweek and The Daily Beast “Digital Power Index.”1

How they got where they are: After graduation, her job at McKinsey & Company and her position with the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Sandberg joined Google as the vice president of global online sales and operations. It was her work there that caught the eye of Facebook’s Zuckerberg. “People at Google tried to persuade her to stay, pointing out that Facebook’s chief financial officer would not report to her and that she would not be invited to join its board of directors. But eventually she took the job. Later, Sandberg would tell people that Facebook was a company driven by instinct and human relationships. The point, implicitly, was that Google was not.”2 Just goes to show that even in a technological world, it’s still OK to rely on your feelings.

References: (1, 2, 3, 4)

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