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Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg Goes Back to Harvard

Wednesday, 23 May 2012 | 2:44 PM ET
Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook.
Moritz Hager | World Economic Forum
Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook.

Harvard Business School MBA candidates are preparing to hear from one of the school's most high profile alumnus -- Sheryl Sandberg.

She's the "Class Day" speaker ahead of graduation tomorrow. Unlike FacebookCEO Mark Zuckerberg, who never graduated from Harvard, Sandberg graduated from Harvard College in 1991, first in her major, economics, and graduated from Harvard Business School in 1995, getting her MBA "with highest distinction."

The graduating students we spoke to were eager to hear from Sandberg, both about her perspective on the Facebook IPO, and her experience as a woman in business. She's drawn quite a cult following as a role model for women-- her speeches at Barnard and the TED conference have been viewed online hundreds of thousands of times.

As for Facebook's IPO, we heard a wide range of perspectives. One first year MBA candidate, Jon Maclain, said he thought $100 billion dollars is far more than Facebook is worth, but said "hey, the market sets the prices." He also said "it looks and feels a lot like the early 2000s," saying he's worried the economy is sitting on another bubble.

But others were far more optimistic about Facebook's long-term value.

A number of students pointed to the volatility of the markets and the fact that Facebook's only been trading for four days, when discussing the stock's decline. Second year MBA candidate Michael Braimhiah noted the company "went public to provide value to its shareholders over the long term." Another graduating student said she doesn't think Facebook stock's drop reflects badly on Sandberg. "It's the technology sector, it's volatility," she said. " I don't think anyone knows how to predict future revenue streams." Another student, Whitney Gretz, says she thinks the stock will move based on the online ad sector in general.

It's unclear whether Sandberg will comment on Facebook at all -- she may focus more on women in business, innovation, and technology, as she has in past speeches. The students we spoke to volunteered that they're eager to hear her perspective on work-life-balance and how Harvard Business School has changed since it started accepting women 50 years ago. But Facebook is certainly the elephant in the room.

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