Sheryl Sandberg Success Story: The Inspirational Female Entrepreneur

Anik Banerjee Anik Banerjee
Jun 2, 2022 15 min read
Sheryl Sandberg Success Story: The Inspirational Female Entrepreneur

We are almost on the brink of wiping out all gender bias in workplaces. Women now are getting employed, and a considerable number of women are rising to distinguished leadership positions and are managing companies almost as dextrously as their male counterparts if not more. Women, today, are also advocating crucial decisions of the companies, thereby standing as the face of today's organizations.

Meta (formerly Facebook) too had its iron lady, who goes by the name Sheryl Sandberg. After Mark Zuckerberg, the 2nd most iconic face of Facebook or Meta is Sheryl Sandberg, who served as the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, joining way back in 2008. During all these years, Sandberg has grown to become quite synonymous with Facebook as is the company's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. Now, after 14 long years of serving as the COO of the company, Sandberg has decided to resign from the post, which she herself announced on her own Facebook page on June 1, 2022.

Sheryl Sandberg has been hailed on successive occasions by Fortune as the World's Most Powerful Women, and with her numerous other honours and philanthropic initiatives along with how she headed the Mark Zuckerberg-led company, Sheryl Sandberg is not only an inspirational woman entrepreneur but a towering figure in the world of startups and businesses for all globally.

If you are curious to learn more about this successful businesswoman, then check out the StartupTalky article ahead, which covers the story of Sheryl Sandberg, her educational background, career, role at Facebook, books authored, Sheryl Sandberg's net worth, and more.

Sheryl Sandberg - Biography

Name Sheryl Sandberg
Born August 28, 1969 Washington, D.C., U.S.
Citizenship American
Education Harvard University (AB, MBA)
Title COO of Facebook (2008–2022), Founder of LeanIn.Org
Board member of Facebook
Net worth US$1.6 billion (May 2022)
Husband/Partner Brian Kraff (m. 1993; div. 1994); Dave Goldberg (m. 2004; died 2015) Tom Bernthal (2019-; engaged)
Children 2

Sheryl Sandberg - Early Life and Education
Sheryl Sandberg - Career
Sheryl Sandberg as an Author and Speaker
Sheryl Sandberg as a Valuable Board Member
Sheryl Sandberg - Interesting Facts
Sheryl Sandberg - Controversies
Sheryl Sandberg - An Inspiration

Sheryl Sandberg - Early Life and Education

Born in a Jewish family of Joel and Adele Sandberg in Washington D.C, Sandberg was the oldest of the three children. Her father was an ophthalmologist while her mother was a teacher of the French language. As her family went to North Miami Beach, Florida when she was just a toddler, Sandberg was admitted to North Miami Beach High School from where she graduated in 1987 and ranked 9th in her class. Sandberg was the sophomore class president, who eventually became a member of the National Honor Society. Sandberg was also on the senior class executive board. When she was in High School, Sheryl also taught aerobics.

Sheryl Sandberg's education resume is nothing short of brilliant. She was always excellent in academics and eventually was admitted to Harvard College. Sandberg graduated in 1991, summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, with a BA with a major in Economics. Sandberg also received the John H. Williams Prize, as the top graduating student from the college in Economics.

Sheryl Sandberg founded the organization, "Women in Economics and Government" while she was still in college. It was in Harvard too that she met Lawrence Summers, who later became her mentor and thesis advisor. Sandberg soon also became the research assistant of Summers at the World Bank. From where her career started. At World Bank, Sandberg was associated with health projects in India that dealt with leprosy, AIDS, and blindness.  

Sheryl Sandberg then pursued her MBA at Harvard Business School in 1995 with the highest distinction. She earned her fellowship right in the first year of business school.

Sheryl Sandberg - Career

A Brief Career in McKinsey & Company

McKinsey & Company Logo
McKinsey & Company Logo

Sheryl Sandberg's career started anew after she completed her MBA. Sandberg first joined McKinsey & Company as a Management Consultant, a role which she served for a year. After leaving McKinsey, Sandberg again worked under Lawrence Summers, who was then the United States Secretary of the Treasury working under President Bill Clinton. The Treasury was then working actively on forgiving debt in the developing world during the Asian financial crisis, where she assisted.

A Major Role in Google as the Vice President of Global Sales and Operations

Google Logo
Google Logo

After 5 years of work for Treasury, Sandberg joined Google in 2001, 3 years after the search engine giant was founded, and rose to the rank of the Vice President of Global Sales and Operations. Furthermore, she was also involved in the philanthropic arm of Google, Google.org.

At Google, Sandberg was responsible for the online sales of the advertising and publishing products of Google. She also handled the sales operations of Google's consumer products and Google Book Search. As Sandberg joined Google quite early in her career, when the search engine giant was far from what Google is now, her role was pivotal in Google. Sandberg in Google, helped the search engine grow the ad and sales team from 4 to 4,000.

Sheryl Sandberg's Meeting with Mark Zuckerberg and Her Joining in Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg
Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg met with Mark Zuckerberg in late 2007. It was a Christmas party held by Dan Rosensweig when Sheryl met Mark, the young founder of Facebook. Though Zuckerberg didn't have a COO position in mind and neither did he look for the same, Sheryl was still deemed as a perfect fit for this role.  This is why Sandberg was offered the position of COO by Facebook in 2008.


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Sheryl Sandberg's Illustrative Career as the COO of Facebook

After her major work with Google, where she has often been described as a "valued member of the Google team", and a "well-regarded Google executive", she left the search engine behemoth to join the social media giant, which was just 4 years old back when she joined in 2008.

Sheryl Sandberg joined Facebook as the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook and the No 2 leader of the Mark Zuckerberg-founded organization, just after CEO Mark.

Sandberg had a hefty portfolio. Apart from that, she had a fluid and trustworthy relationship with Mark Zuckerberg. Sandberg did all the things Mark hated to do and hence, Mark could focus on what he liked: engineering. Well, it was due to her efforts that he had given her space to be the public face of the company in many areas.

Soon after she joined Facebook, Sandberg quickly figured out smart ways to make the company profitable. Until then Facebook strived to emerge as a cool site without any major revenue model as such, thereby, it lacked profits or a way to make them. Facebook believed that coolness should be there and profits shall eventually follow. With Sheryl Sandberg in its arsenal, Facebook soon started to rely on advertising and began to present advertisements discreetly, and it was in 2010 that Facebook finally became profitable. Back then, Sandberg used to oversee almost all the major departments of the social media company including sales, business development, marketing, communications, public policy, and more.  

Sandberg had set her sights on the problem of mobile advertising. As Mark had reassigned his engineers to prioritize the mobile applications over the website, Sandberg had controlled the business side of Facebook. She had pushed to simplify the ad formats and had convened biweekly meetings with ad and product executives to balance the user experience with the needs of the marketers.

She gave away the stories of conversations she had with the top executives of various companies to push more into what the situation demanded. The result of Sandberg’s efforts speaks for itself. The shares, which tanked after Facebook’s botched IPO in May 2012 scaled up by 140% to around $50 during recent years. The mobile ads accounted for 41% of Facebook’s $1.6 billion in ad revenue in one of its recent quarters.

The CEO of the company Mark had predicted that the mobile revenue will comprise the majority of Facebook’s business. Therefore, Sandberg had been well rewarded for her contributions. She had earned around $26 million in cash and stock in 2012. Sandberg’s Facebook shares and options were about $704 million. Apart from that, she also received an additional $277 million as unvested shares and options.

Sandberg joined the Board of Directors of Facebook in 2012 when she emerged as the first woman to join the Facebook Board of Directors. Though Sandberg held some stakes in the company, it was revealed that she had sold over half of her stocks since the company went public on May 18, 2012. The Facebook IPO was humongous indeed with a market capitalisation of over $104 billion. Facebook's IPO is still regarded as the biggest among the technology companies and one of the biggest in the history of the internet. Sandberg, who was left with 41 million shares in the company during the time of the Initial Public Offering (IPO) of Facebook, was left with 17.2 million shares after some rounds of sales, which amounted to 0.5% stakes in Facebook then, and worth close to $1 bn.

A few years ago, Facebook had landed itself in a tricky business partnership with PayPal. Therefore, whenever the teams were in a tussle, Sandberg would personally reach out to John Donahoe, the CEO of eBay, which owns PayPal. The high-level involvements had removed the differences over time. This resulted in eBay spending far more on Facebook ads.

According to some Facebook executives, even though Sandberg can’t be cloned, she can be emulated. With Sandberg's efforts, Facebook has turned into a giant in the social media industry and a role model for many other companies, startups, business professionals, CEOs, and other individuals, which was just a young and growing company when she vowed to stay with the team.

Sheryl Sandberg's leadership style is transformational as she believes in celebrating her employees' successes and also encourages people to do better work.

Along with Facebook, Sheryl is also known for many other initiatives including Lean In. Sandberg had been serving actively as the COO of Facebook, she had also extended her valuable contributions to the social media giant even after Facebook termed itself, Meta, on October 28, 2021, before she announced her resignation from the post of COO on June 1, 2022. Sandberg mentioned that the reason is her wish to write the next chapter of her life. She would be resigning in the fall of 2022, as per the reports. Sheryl Sandberg is presently worth around $1.6 bn, as of June 2, 2022.

Sheryl Sandberg- Success Story

Sheryl Sandberg and LeanIn.Org

The first Sheryl Sandberg book Lean In has been widely successful. The publication of Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In, which was focused on business leadership and development and stressed the issues of the lack of women in the government and business leadership positions and feminism, ignited an international movement that made feminism mainstream again. This made her a champion of women's rights, who advocated gender equality and the name of Sheryl Sandberg soon began to be taken in the same breath as other celebrities like Oprah, Bono, and Michel Bloomberg.

The book, Lean In, has heightened expectations about Sandberg’s post-Facebook life. This book that dealt with the lack of women in the businesses and all the challenges they had to face, is truly revolutionary in its own right.

According to Mark, Lean In has done a lot more for the advancement of Facebook than what Facebook has done for Lean In. As a result of which while, Mark is a celebrity in his own right and the anti-hero of an Oscar-winning Hollywood movie.

Lean In Foundation or LeanIn.org was founded by Sheryl Sandberg in 2013, as a nonprofit organisation. This organisation has been founded by the then Meta COO to offer women an "ongoing inspiration and support to help them achieve their goals." The Lean In organisation aims to support women in 3 main ways:

  • Community
  • Education
  • Circles or small and connected peer groups

Lean In has seen the joining of over 380,000+ women and men to its Lean In community and has successfully created 34,000+ Lean In Circles in over 157 countries to date.

Furthermore, Lean In is also responsible for annual national campaigns like #BanBossy and #LeanInTogether. These initiatives were organised to help Lean In accomplish its goals and establish partnerships.

The Lean In Foundation has been renamed to Sheryl Sandberg & Dave Goldberg Family Foundation, which was kept after the name of Sheryl and her late husband. Sandberg has also reportedly transferred around $100 mn in Facebook stock to fund the organization and other charitable endeavours of Sandberg. It now serves as an umbrella for LeanIn.org and as a new organization around her book Option B.

While some Facebook executives say Sandberg has not missed an opportunity to contribute others say that Lean In was distracting and took much of her time. But, according to them, it was only for a brief period. The book has turned Sandberg into an international sensation. It has truly helped with recruiting and retention of women engineers and executives, which is a major revolution witnessed in recent times.

Presently, women executives also lead the company’s global sales, public policy, mobile engineering, European operations, and many important groups. However, only one of Sandberg’s five direct reports was reported to be female and except for Sandberg, all of Mark’s six direct reports are male. It seems that women still need to draw inspiration from Sandberg!

Sheryl Sandberg as an Author and Speaker

Sheryl Sandberg wrote an article in 2008 in the support of her mentor Lawrence Summers, which was published by The Huffington Post. She was a keynote speaker at the Jewish Community Federation's Business Leadership Council in 2010. It was in the month of December, in the same year that Sandberg went ahead for her first TED speech, which focused on empowering women and elevating them as leaders, titled "Why we have too few women leaders".

Sandberg was also chosen the very next year as the speaker of the Commencement Address of the Barnard College graduation ceremony. She was a keynote on many occasions that followed and delivered the commencement address on several occasions too, including:

  • The Class Day ceremony at the Harvard Business School in May 2012
  • The second annual Entrepreneur Weekend at Colgate University, in Hamilton, New York
  • Berkeley graduation ceremony at the University of California
  • Virginia Tech's Class of 2017
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, MA

Sheryl Sandberg released her first book called Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, which was co-authored by Nell Scovell and published by Knopf on March 11, 2013. The book had sold more than 1 million copies and featured as one of the bestsellers since its launch, as of the fall of 2013.

Lean In - Book by Sheryl Sandberg
Lean In - Book by Sheryl Sandberg

Though the book has received mixed reviews from critics and others, Lean In has been a career-swirling attempt of Sheryl Sandberg that gave rise to LeanIn.org, which paved an entrepreneurial way for Sheryl Sandberg.

Option B, which was released in April 2017 and co-authored by Adam Grant, was another book written by Sandberg. This book dealt with how to handle loss after she lost her husband unexpectedly. It has also crossed the 2.75 million mark in terms of copies sold.

Option B - Book by Sheryl Sandberg
Option B - Book by Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg also was involved in the signing of an open letter which the ONE Campaign had been collecting signatures for in 2015.


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Sheryl Sandberg as a Valuable Board Member

Sheryl Sandberg has served as a Board member in several reputed organisations including Meta, where she will still serve as a Board Member after her resignation as the COO of the organization.

Sandberg was named to the Board of The Walt Disney Company. She serves on the Boards as a member of Women for Women International, the Center for Global Development, and V-Day. Starbucks, Brookings Institution, and Ad Council also had Sandberg on their Boards previously. Sandberg was also known as a member of the advisory board of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.


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Sheryl Sandberg - Interesting Facts

  • At Harvard, she was an Aerobics teacher.
  • She Helped co-found the on-campus group Women in Economics and Government.
  • Larry Summers, treasury secretary under President Bill Clinton, the director of the National Economic Council for President Barack Obama, and the chief economist at the World Bank was her thesis advisor at Harvard.
  • She graduated with the highest distinction from Harvard Business School.
  • She worked at Google before Facebook.
  • Sheryl Sandberg and Zuckerberg met at a Christmas party.
  • She was the first woman to be appointed to Facebook’s board.
  • Sheryl is the author of 2 best-selling books.
  • Sheryl Sandberg's house is in Menlo Park and costs over $11 million.

Sheryl Sandberg - Controversies

Sheryl Sandberg has seen her own share of controversies, which were primarily associated with Facebook and her work with the social media company.

Sandberg was a part of the coordinated campaign to restrain Daily Mail from publishing a story about a temporary restraining order that was announced for Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, by a former girlfriend, The Wall Street Journal reported on April 21, 2022. It was also reported that when the order was announced, Kotick and Sandberg were dating. Both of them worked with a team including Facebook and Activision employees to forge a strategy that would help convince the Mail not to publish the article in 2016 and 2019, reports say. Facebook is currently reported to be reviewing if Sandberg actually violated any of the company’s rules during the same occasion.

Sandberg was the face of Facebook when the social media giant was tangled in numerous controversies, like the time following the 2016 US presidential election, when Sandberg faced blowback over issues including the Cambridge Analytica scandal. She was involved in the spread of misinformation, and Facebook's failures of oversight with regard to everything.  

Sheryl Sandberg - An Inspiration

Sheryl Sandberg Ted Talk

It is a no-brainer that Sandberg is an inspiration for everyone. Her entrepreneurial work has fueled the growth of the company and hence, as a result, Facebook is the largest social media platform in the world. She has risen through the ranks and is one of the reasons why Facebook is still a big name across the world dominated by the internet. Under Sandberg, the team has worked efficiently and had continued to do so, at least till the announcement of her resignation, post which she will continue to be there on the Facebook Board. The Sheryl Sandberg story doesn't end here but awaits the new beginnings that Sheryl has hinted at while posting about her resignation.

The Sheryl Sandberg foundation known as Sheryl Sandberg & Dave Goldberg Family Foundation aims to build a more equal and resilient world. With the help of two key initiatives LeanIn.Org and OptionB.Org, they bring people together to support each other.

One of the top Sheryl Sandberg quotes is "Feeling confident -- or pretending that you feel confident -- is necessary to reach for opportunities. It's a cliche, but opportunities are rarely offered; they're seized."

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FAQs

Who is Sheryl Sandberg?

Sheryl Sandberg is popularly known as the COO of Facebook and the author of 2 bestselling books. Sandberg has announced her resignation from the COO position of Facebook and will be leaving the organization in the fall of 2022.

What did Sheryl Sandberg study?

Sheryl Sandberg went to Harvard College and has an AB in economics. She is also the recipient of the John H. Williams Prize for a top graduating student in economics. Later on, she pursued her MBA at Harvard Business School in 1995 with the highest distinction.

What is Sheryl Sandberg's net worth?

As of June 2022, the net worth of Sheryl Sandberg is $1.6 billion.

What ethnicity is Sheryl Sandberg?

Sandberg was born to a Jewish family and is the oldest of three children.

What are the books by Sheryl Sandberg?

The 2 books Sheryl Sandberg wrote are Lean In and Option B. Sheryl Sandberg's book Lean In has frequented the best seller list.

What is Sheryl Sandberg's salary?

The salary of Sheryl Sandberg was last estimated to be $24.8 million as she is the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook.

What did Sandberg do for Facebook?

Since she became the COO at Facebook, she has helped to dramatically increase the social media firm's revenue.  

Who is Sheryl Sandberg's Fiancé?

Sheryl Sandberg's husband is Tom Bernthal.

How many kids do Sheryl Sandberg have?

Sheryl Sandberg has two kids.

What does a COO do?

The chief operating officer (COO) is considered second in the chain of command and is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day administrative and operational functions of a business.

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