COO of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, one of Silicon Valley’s most powerful women executives talks about being a single mom and her charity initiatives. Author of Lean In, she is almost like a book herself, a story that one is intrigued by, says Anjhula Mya Singh Bais.
At the World Economic Forum (WEF), every corridor one turns, one bumps into a business magnate, and it was no different for me when I met Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. Admittedly, some of us may not interact with Fortune 100 company CEOs, but everyone I know checks their Facebook accounts, regularly. Wondering what Sandberg would be like in person, as someone in the media and schooled (literally) in the psychology of it, I held a wait and watch approach. Surrounded by a team that included a stylist (I can hear the fashion mavens cheer), PR manager and ‘right-hand’ person, Sandberg was on time, efficient, polite and down-to-earth.
Sheryl Sandberg, 45, lost her husband David Goldberg recently. They were together for 11 years. She has famously said on FB, “I met Dave nearly 20 years ago when I first moved to LA. He became my best friend. He showed me the Internet for the first time, planned fun outings, took me to the temple for the Jewish holidays and introduced me to much cooler music than I had ever heard.”
Earlier in the day, I had watched her at the World Economic Forum (WEF) panel with Presidents and Prime Ministers. When everyone was asked to cross their arms using the arm they use least, she was the only one to put the left over the right with complete ease, whilst the rest of us, including politicians looked a bit uncomfortable. And, indeed, that is a Sandberg hallmark. In her book Lean In, she describes pumping breast milk during conference calls and when people asked, “What’s that sound?”, she would respond, “What sound?” When they insisted, she would say “Oh! that’s a fire truck across the street.”
I asked Sandberg if women could really have it all—be a COO, mother, wife, daughter-in-law, daughter, sibling, friend and she said, ‘yes’, but qualified: not every category may hit the degree to which one would want everything at the same time, but it can be done if one is ingenious, creative and determined.