Great tech innovators: Sheryl Sandberg

From politics to Google to Facebook

  • Age: 45
  • Known for: Google, Facebook
  • Quote: "I want every little girl who's told she's bossy to be told instead that she has leadership skills"

There are few people who can say they've achieved as much as Sheryl Sandberg has. Born in Washington DC, Sandberg went on to graduate from Harvard Business School before taking a job at the US Department of the Treasury during the Clinton administration.

However, Sandberg can probably thank the Republicans for pushing her into the world of tech. After the Democrats were pushed out of office, Sandberg moved to Silicon Valley and joined Google as its VP of Global Online Sales and Operations in 2001, where she stayed for several years.

During her time there, Sandberg made a name for herself as one of America's best executives, so it was undoubtedly a big loss for the company when she jumped ship to Facebook in 2008.

Sandberg actually met Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg at a Christmas party in 2007, and although Zuckerberg wasn't looking for a Chief Operating Officer at the time, he decided Sandberg was just the right person for the company. She joined as COO in March 2008 and helped Facebook transition into something that was actually profitable. She also went on to become the first female member of Facebook's board of directors.

In fact, Sandberg is also a member of several important boards, including Women for Women International, the Center for Global Development and The Walt Disney Company. She's also spent much of her career calling for better representation of women and wrote the bestselling book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.

But Sandberg also experienced a huge tragedy this year when she lost her husband, Silicon Valley exec Dave Goldberg. Shortly after, Sandberg wrote a long and moving post to Facebook about her loss, evoking an emotional response from the community, drawing over 900,00 positive responses in just one day.

In 2012 Time magazine named Sandberg in its list of the 100 most influential people in the world, and it's obvious why. Not only is she helping to transform a social network into a massive, dominating internet service, she's a force for putting more women in positions of power. To quote Sandberg, "A truly equal world would be one where women ran half our countries and companies and men ran half our homes".

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