Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg is the chief operating officer of Facebook and best-selling author of Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.


Sheryl Sandberg was born in Washington, D.C., in 1969. She went to Harvard for her bachelor's degree in economics and worked at the World Bank after graduating summa cum laude. She then attended Harvard Business School and went to work in the U.S. Department of the Treasury during the Clinton administration. When the Republicans swept the Democrats out of office in November 2000, Sandberg moved to Silicon Valley and worked for Google for seven years. She then moved to Facebook, where she has been COO since 2008. Sandberg is the author of Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, which has sold more than a million copies.

Early Years and Education

Sheryl Sandberg was born in Washington, D.C., in August 1969 and moved with her family to North Miami Beach, Florida, when she was 2. At North Miami Beach Senior High School, Sandberg was in the National Honor Society and graduated in 1987 ninth in her class, with a 4.6 GPA.

At Harvard, Sandberg majored in economics and had Lawrence Summers as a thesis adviser. Traits that would go on to define Sandberg began to emerge at Harvard, and her study of economics often came through a feminist lens (although she’s said she was not a feminist). She studied the role that economic inequality plays in spousal abuse and founded a group called Women in Economics and Government, which, she says, was created “to get more women to major in government and economics.”

Sandberg graduated summa cum laude in 1991, and that same year, Summers became the World Bank’s chief economist, and he asked Sandberg to be one of his research assistants. She also married Washington businessman Brian Kraff during this period, although the pair divorced a year later. Sandberg worked for Summers for two years and then enrolled at Harvard Business School, attaining her M.B.A. and graduating with distinction in 1995.

Soon, Sandberg’s and Summers’ paths would cross again, when he became deputy Treasury secretary in the Clinton administration and asked Sandberg to become his chief of staff. She accepted the position, and remained in it when Summers became secretary of the Treasury in 1999. She served at Summers’ side until 2001, when Republican George W. Bush moved into the White House and political appointees from the other side of the aisle took over.

Google and Facebook

With her government job behind her, Sandberg moved to Silicon Valley, eager to join the new tech boom that was under way. Google showed early interest in Sandberg, and she found Google’s mission, which she described as “to make the world’s information freely available,” compelling enough to sign on with the three-year-old company in November 2001.

As Google’s vice president of global online sales & operations, Sandberg was responsible for managing online sales of advertising and publishing products, Google Book Search and consumer products. Sandberg was with Google until 2008, with her tenure marked by stunning professional success and an ever-growing reputation as one of the top executives in the country.

In March 2008, Sandberg’s Google run came to an end, and she joined Facebook as the company’s chief operating officer. From her COO post, Sandberg oversees Facebook’s business operations, specifically helping Facebook scale its operations and expand its global footprint. She also oversees sales management, business development, human resources, marketing, public policy, privacy and communications. For her duties, Sandberg has been richly rewarded, and she made her way onto the billionaires’ list in early 2014, based on her stake in Facebook, which made its initial public stock offering in 2012, the same year that Sandberg became the first female member of the company's board of directors.

'Lean In' & Her Personal Life

Sandberg is the author of the bestseller Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, which has sold more than a million copies and has been optioned as a film. Lean In inspired a global community group,, which Sandberg founded to support women striving to reach their ambitions. 

In her personal life, Sandberg married briefly at the age of 24, and divorced a year later. In 2004, she married Dave Goldberg, a Yahoo! executive who later became the CEO of SurveyMonkey, and the couple have two children together.

Sandberg has written about her husband's supportive role in her life and career. On March 5, 2015, she posted on Facebook: "I wrote in Lean In that the most important decision a woman makes is if she has a life partner and who that life partner will be. The best decision I ever made was to marry Dave. "

On May 1, 2015, Goldberg died suddenly at the age of 47 while on a family vacation in Mexico. The cause of his death was head trauma after slipping on a treadmill. 

Sandberg wrote about her husband in a Facebook post following his death: "Dave was my rock. When I got upset, he stayed calm. When I was worried, he said it would be ok. When I wasn't sure what to do, he figured it out. He was completely dedicated to his children in every way – and their strength these past few days is the best sign I could have that Dave is still here with us in spirit. . .Things will never be the same – but the world is better for the years my beloved husband lived." 

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