THE WOMAN BEHIND FACEBOOK: GIRL POWER IN A GEEK WORLD

TORONTO,
APRIL 14, 2011 (YAHOO NEWS) FROM Golden Girl Finance, [PHOTO - FACEBOOK CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, SHERYL SANDBERG as she speaks at a luncheon for the American Society of News Editors Thursday, April 7, 2011, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Girl power in a geek world. What we can learn from Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.

. The Zuckster's shiny 26-year old face is plastered all over the media. But the bombshell brains behind the scenes belong to 42-year old mother of two, Sheryl Sandberg.

As Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl oversees the company's sales, marketing, business development, human resources, public policy and communications. Since she joined Facebook in 2008, Sheryl has been credited with successfully managing the college website through its hypergrowth stage and, more importantly, making it wildly profitable.

Who's that girl?

A Harvard MBA, Sheryl began her career as an economist with the World Bank and then (at age 27!) became Chief of Staff for the US Secretary of the Treasury under President Bill Clinton's administration. Her tech experience started with Google, where she worked as Vice President of Global Online Sales and Operations.

In 2007, former Yahoo CEO Dan Rosensweig held a Christmas party. It was in the foyer that Sheryl met Zuck. While everyone around them swilled cocktails, the two stood by the front door, immersed in a deep conversation that would lead to Sheryl's move to Facebook.

Her biggest risk?

In an interview with Moira Forbes, publisher of ForbesWoman, Sheryl says her riskiest move was taking the Google job in 2001. At the time, the tech bubble had just burst and Google was an internet start-up company with 200 employees. Sheryl took the leap, got Google's revenue stream sorted out and grew the ad team from four people to 4,000.

Best advice she ever got?

Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, said to Sheryl, "Go where there is growth. Where there's fast growth, that's what creates opportunities." She took his advice and now adds: "Going to things you really believe in, whether they seem obvious or not, is the most important thing."

Nice gals finish first?

In her presentations, Sheryl often cites a study that says success and likeability are positively correlated for men and negatively correlated for women. Yet she seems determined to personally reverse this notion. According to a recent Vogue profile, Sheryl is famous for remembering birthdays and sending supportive emails to her friends before their big moments. She's a four-time successful matchmaker, has a tight relationship with her sister, and regularly hosts dinners and parties for girlfriends and colleagues at her home.

Meanwhile on the job, Sheryl's elegant suits may look out of place among the flip-flops and hoodies at Facebook, but she is an active manager, making sure everyone on the team feels respected, engaged and mentored in their careers. According to estimates, about 200 of her former employees from Google have followed her to Facebook.

Her advice for the rest of us?

So what can we learn from this tech-femme dynamo? At her December 2010 Ted Talk, Sheryl had this advice to share with working women:

* Sit at the table. Have you ever walked into a boardroom and humbly taken a seat at the side of the room, maybe perched on the windowsill? Men are far more comfortable acknowledging their own awesomeness, while women tend to play down their authority and look for external factors to account for their achievements. As Sheryl says, no one gets to the corner office if they aren't comfortable sitting at the table. Own your own success!

* Make your partner a real partner. Working inside the home has to be as important as working outside the home - for both genders. In case you need a reason to believe this, Sheryl cites a study of households where the man and woman have equal earnings and equal home responsibilities. These couples enjoy half the divorce rate of the broader population andů wait for itů more sex. Sign us up!

* Don't leave before you leave. At the point when a woman starts to think about having a family, she often instinctively starts to scale back her career responsibilities. Never mind that it might be many months or even years before she actually has a baby. Sheryl suggests you maximize your career time right up to the moment you step out the door to go give birth. Keep taking the plum assignments and apply for the fabulous job opening that comes up. This way, if you do choose to return to the office after your baby is born, you are more likely to have the kind of job opportunities that make juggling family and work worthwhile. Leave on a high!

The Sandbergian way

In an industry dominated by men and tech-savvy wunderkinds, Sheryl Sandberg is proving that a woman of a certain age can not only add value, but also be an essential business partner who can take a good idea and make it golden. Just ask Zuck.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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