Sheryl Sandberg is jokingly referred to as the “grown up” at Facebook.
As the social network’s COO, Sandberg runs its all-important advertising business, business development, and oversees hiring. In her four years at the company she’s helped Facebook become profitable, expand internationally, and grow its user base by more than a dozen times over to over 900 million. While her boss, Mark Zuckerberg oversees Facebook’s products, the bottom line is that she figures out how they can make money, without alienating users.
Sandberg’s story is a nice complement to Zuckerberg’s Harvard dropout tale. She graduated from Harvard, first in her major, economics and also graduated from Harvard Business School. Her undergraduate thesis advisor served as a key mentor and boss. He hired her as a researcher at the World Bank soon after she graduated college, and later, he brought her on as his Chief of Staff at the Treasury, where he would become Treasury Secretary.
Sandberg made the jump from DC to Silicon Valley in 2001, when she started at Google . She served as Vice President of Global Online Sales & Operations, where she oversaw online sales of ads and publishing products. She also started Google’s philanthropic arm.
A friendship struck up with Zuckerberg, after a chance encounter at a Silicon Valley holiday party, lured her over to Facebook in 2008. After meeting at that party the two started meeting regularly to talk about how social was changing the business landscape, and Zuckerberg started talking about how she could take their business to the next level.
And Sandberg and Zuckerberg have continued that conversation — they meet every Monday morning and every Friday afternoon, though they talk constantly throughout the week.
It’s not just her day job keeping her busy — Sandberg also sits on the boards of Disney and Starbucks , and she’s a member of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.
The mother of two (her husband runs another Silicon Valley company – Survey Monkey) has also become a role model for women in business. Her speeches — including a Ted talk and a Barnard Commencement speech — have been viewed online hundreds of thousands of times. She gives women the advice to “always take a seat at the table” and to not “leave before you leave” ahead of having kids. She mentors young women at Facebook, and the biggest criticism of her is that she spends too much time on this extra-curricular.
Sandberg’s well appreciated at the company — she’s Facebook’s best paid employee, bringing home $31 million — mostly in restricted stock awards — last year.
-By CNBC's Julia Boorstin