The cover story in the latest issue of Bloomberg Businessweek is a profile of Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, who’s widely credited with helping the youthful company grow up. And in her free time? She throws meetings at her home:
Every few weeks a few dozen Silicon Valley women—doctors, teachers, and techies—head to the seven-bedroom Atherton (Calif.) mansion Sandberg shares with her husband, Dave Goldberg, chief executive of Web startup SurveyMonkey, and their two kids. The group sits on foldout chairs in the living room and holds plates of catered food on their laps as they listen to a guest speaker. Over the years, Sandberg has lured such luminaries as Geena Davis, Billie Jean King, Rupert Murdoch, Meg Whitman, and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). Robert Rubin, the most recent guest, said that 15 years ago when he was Treasury Secretary, it was good for Sheryl Sandberg that she knew him. Now, he quipped, it was good for him that he knows her.
These “Women in Silicon Valley” events, as Sandberg calls them, have become a mainstay in the lives of the women in her personal and professional circle. “I think there are a lot of people who feel they are very good friends with Sheryl, and that’s a testament to how much she invests in those relationships,” says Marne Levine, a former colleague at Treasury who joined Facebook last year in Washington as its vice-president of global public policy.
Last year a guest speaker at one of Sandberg’s home soirees was Cambodian human trafficking activist Somaly Mam. After she discussed her work and shared her personal history of being sold into slavery at a young age, Sandberg stood up and announced her intention to hold a fundraiser for the Somaly Mam Foundation and asked how many of her friends would join her. Everyone volunteered. The fundraiser, held at the Hiller Aviation Museum in San Carlos, Calif., in November, raised more than a million dollars for the foundation, a third of the organization’s annual contributions.
So in order to effect real change in the world, this business executive — who is already extremely influential — turns to meetings. Not too shabby.