“I want to tell any young girl out there who’s a geek, I was a really serious geek in high school. It works out. Study harder.” ~Sheryl Sandberg
Sheryl Sandberg has no qualms with having been a geek in high school—and she encourages more women to be geeks, too. And it’s probably wise to listen, considering she’s the Chief Operating Officer for Facebook and number ten on Forbes’ list of the 100 most powerful women.
Sandberg was born in Washington, D.C., but grew up in North Miami Beach, Florida. She graduated from high school at the top of her class and went on to attend Harvard College, where she earned her A.B. in economics summa cum laude in 1991. While attending Harvard, Sandberg met economist Larry Summers, who also served as her mentor and thesis advisor. In 1993, Sandberg earned her MBA from Harvard Business School.
From 1996 until 2001, Sandberg worked in Washington, D.C. as Chief of Staff to the United States Secretary of the Treasury and her previous mentor, Larry Summers. In 2001, after President Clinton’s second term ended, Sandberg moved on to work for Google as its Vice President of Global Online Sales & Operations.
In 2008, Sheryl Sandberg left Google to become Chief Operating Officer for Facebook with the goal of making the social networking site profitable. While co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg focuses primarily on creating the product, Sandberg is responsible for overseeing the business side of things: sales, marketing, business development, human resources, public policy, and communications.
In 2012, Sandberg became the first female member of Facebook’s board of directors. She has also served on the board of The Walt Disney Company, Women for Women International, the Center for Global Development, V-Day, Starbucks, Brookings Institution and Ad Council. She has given numerous speeches, recorded a TED Talk on female leadership, and co-wrote the book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.
“I don’t believe in ‘having it all,’” says Sandberg. “But I do believe in women and men having both a successful career and family. The more women we get into positions of power, the more likely we’ll get that.”