Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has run the PR gamut from feminist spokesperson to scapegoat amid scandal.
Sheryl Sandberg, who is the CEO of Facebook, is frequently referred to as the real brain behind the Facebook empire, the adult supervisor to founder, Mark Zuckerberg, and the public relations face of the company.
The Facebook CEO, a billionaire who has made the Time 100 list of the world’s most influential people, is also widely considered to be one of the most powerful women in the world, Her book, “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead“, has sold over 2.25 million copies worldwide. Yet like the rest of the Facebook family, Sandberg has come in for her fair share of criticism over the past year amid allegations surrounding the company’s role in the 2016 U.S. election. Essentially, the CEO of Facebook came under fire in relation to issues such as user privacy concerns, the firm’s advertising-driven business model, and censorship.
A rough ride for the company means additional scrutiny on Sandberg, the Facebook CEO, as well, whom many observers insist has been every bit as important to the social media giant’s success as Zuckerberg himself.
Facebook CEO’s Journey to the Top
Sherly Sandberg, CEO Facebook, was born in Washington, DC, in 1969. The daughter of an ophthalmologist and French teacher, she grew up in Miami Beach, Florida, where she excelled academically before graduating summa cum laude from Harvard College with a degree in economics in 1991.
Two years later, the Facebook CEO enrolled in Harvard Business School and earned her MBA with the highest distinction. Amid a period in which the lack of women in business leadership roles has been much debated, the world appeared to be Sandberg’s oyster.
Between 1996 and 2001, Sandberg worked for her former Harvard mentor and then U.S. Treasury Secretary Larry Summers in the Bill Clinton administration, yet the tech world beckoned. Before she became CEO at Facebook, Sandberg first worked for Google, where she was responsible for online sales of advertising and publishing products, as well as for sales operations of Google’s consumer products and Google Book Search.
Then came the opportunity to be Facebook’s first Chief Operational Officer—legend has it that Mark Zuckerberg hadn’t even been looking for a COO when he met Sandberg by chance at a party in 2007, but was sufficiently impressed to offer her the role.
Sandberg’s first task as Facebook CEO was to figure out how to make the company profitable. She has written that before she joined, the company was “primarily interested in building a really cool site. They assumed profits would follow.”
By spring 2008, the company leadership had agreed to embrace ads provided they were “discreetly presented,” and by 2010, the company was indeed profitable with revenues of over a billion dollars
Sandberg’s role as CEO of Facebook would expand to include overseeing the firm’s sales, marketing, business development, human resources, public policy, and communications. She later became the first female member of Facebook’s board of directors in 2012.
Who is the CEO of Facebook: Sheryl Sandberg the Role Model
As a woman and CEO of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg belongs to a small group of female corporate executives in the U.S. More remarkably, she is among the even lower number of women in CEO positions in the tech companies such as Facebook. Consequently, it is important to highlight that Sandberg has long stood out as an example of a high achiever who broke down preconceptions of women in the workplace and has also been an outspoken champion of women’s rights.
In 2013, the Facebook CEO published the bestselling book “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.“ The book focuses on issues such as the lack of women in government and business leadership positions, as well as feminism, and has since sold over 2 million copies.
In her book, the CEO of Facebook argues that there are still barriers preventing women from taking leadership roles in the workplace. Barriers such as discrimination, blatant and subtle sexism, as well as sexual harassment. In equal measure, she claims there are barriers that women create for themselves through internalizing systematic discrimination and societal gender roles. The Facebook CEO argues that in order for change to happen, women need to break down these societal and personal barriers by striving for and achieving leadership roles—the eponymous “leaning in.”
Sandberg’s activism is not limited to the US. Instead, the Facebook CEO has also tried to inspire women globally. In 2015, she signed an open letter published by the ONE Campaign addressed to Angela Merkel and Chair of the African Union Commission (AU), Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, urging them to focus on women as they served as the head of the G7 in Germany and the AU in South Africa respectively. According to Sandberg, CEO of Facebook, the goal of the open letter was to put women’s empowerment among the development funding priorities at the UN.
Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg’s TedTalk
At TEDWomen in 2010, Sandberg made the bold decision to talk about the experience of being one of the very few women at the C-level of business. The Facebook CEO opened her TedTalk by highlighting one of the core challenges women go through in the corporate world using her own experience: “I left San Francisco, where I live, on Monday, and I was getting on the plane for this conference. And my daughter, who’s three, when I dropped her off at preschool, did that whole hugging-the-leg, crying, “Mommy, don’t get on the plane” thing. This is hard. I feel guilty sometimes. I know no women, whether they’re at home or whether they’re in the workforce, who don’t feel that sometimes.”
The Facebook CEO’s now-famous TED talk, Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders, helped to launch the movement which has sparked Lean In groups, events, as well as educational and corporate partnerships. What stood out about this TedTalk was the openness, honesty, and vulnerability with which Sandberg spoke.
Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg’s, Controversies
Yet as one of the most powerful women in America, Sandberg has naturally come in for her fair share of criticism, both in terms of business decisions she has taken at Facebook as CEO and her public image in general.
Some feminists blasted her book, Lean In, as “too elitist” and claimed Sandberg was “tone-deaf” to the challenges facing ordinary women lower down the economy, although her supporters claim she makes clear reference to women of different socioeconomic backgrounds.
Then came the 2016 election scandal that shook up Facebook as a whole. According to The Wall Street Journal, during a meeting of the company’s leadership Mark Zuckerberg blamed the Facebook CEO personally for the outcome of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The publication stated that the company’s founder “blamed her and her teams for the public fallout over Cambridge Analytica.” In fact, the Facebook CEO “confided in friends that the exchange rattled her, and she wondered if she should be worried about her job.”
By late 2018, investors were openly discussing the possibility of Sandberg’s tenure as CEO of Facebook coming to an end.
Others reasoned that the problems at the company are much broader. Ultimately, the CEO of Facebook answers to Zuckerberg. He effectively controls the company thanks to the voting rights his Facebook shares give him, which allow him to direct the firm as he sees it. But more to the point, Zuckerberg is the one who determines how much of the company’s resources and engineering personnel to devote to particular efforts or projects.
Thanks to the stream of recent scandals afflicting Facebook, the company has seen increased costs and decreased user growth, which in turn have hit its stock price hard in recent months. Regardless of what happens, the next couple of years promise to bring significant change to the company.
Whether Sheryl Sandberg will remain the Facebook CEO during the transformation remains to be seen, but the mark she will have left on the social media giant is indisputable.
Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg’s Resiliency and Bravery
Sheryl Sandberg lost her husband unexpectedly during a vacation together in 2015.
She turned that terrible experience into her book, which reaches out to you and serves as a functional guide to healing our hearts and finding out that resilience is not something you have, but something you build.
You can read more about her resilience by clicking here.