Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg dodges IPO questions at Harvard

24 May 2012

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg

Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg had plenty to say about gender roles in the workplace but remained fairly tight-lipped about the social network’s recent IPO while speaking at Harvard Business School’s Class Day yesterday.

“Give us a world where half our homes are run by men and half our businesses are run by women,” Sandberg said at the day preceding commencement today at the university in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Sandberg, a Harvard University graduate herself, told the audience that women today occupy only about 15pc of C-level positions in corporate America, and that number hasn’t budged in more than a decade.

“We need to acknowledge openly that gender remains an issue at the highest levels of leadership,” said Sandberg.

She added that women need more encouragement to pursue higher level executive roles and need to grab opportunities as they arise.

“When you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, don’t ask what seat, just take it,” Sandberg said, referring to advice now-former Google CEO Eric Schmidt gave her when she left the internet giant to go work for then-23-year-old Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Schmidt had told her, CNBC.com reported, not to worry about her career plan, but to “get on a rocket ship,” and “when companies are growing quickly careers take care of themselves.”

During her keynote address, Sandberg made mere mention Facebook’s recent US$16bn troubled IPO, telling the graduates they should be sure to keep in touch on Facebook.

“We are public now, so you can click on an ad or two while you are there,” she added.

Sandberg declined to answer questions about the IPO after she delivered her address.