All good things must come to an end, and for Sheryl Sandberg, the end of 14 years as the storied COO at Meta (formerly Facebook) have recently come to an end. And indeed, Sheryl Sandberg has lived the very definition of “meta” for the last 14 years, as she was truly a woman who embodied “an effective way to achieve the goal of the game.”
Sandberg cites the reason for her retirement as wanting more time to do things that she wants to do, noting that her role at Meta was all-inclusive. “It’s a job that I love, but it’s 24/7,” Sandberg, 52, said, shortly after she announced she was stepping down as COO in a Facebook post yesterday. “It’s not a job that you can do and also do other things.
”When Sandberg took the job in 2008, she expected to be there 5 years, but says it is now time to spread her wings and focus on her philanthropy, especially her interest in helping women. Interestingly, that was one of the reasons she came on board Facebook to begin with, to set an example for young women, to show them that they could have young children (like her two young children at the time) and still make positive contributions in high-powered business roles.
Sandberg has long had a heart for helping. In 2013, she launched a program called Lean In, an initiative that helps companies support women and employees with marginalized identities. This program shares a name with a book she co-wrote that year titled Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. At this time, it is not clear whether Sandberg will take on more work at the organization she founded, or set her philanthropic sights on something else. She does seem ready to leave the all-encompassing corporate world behind.
One thing that is clear, however, is that she will stay on Meta’s board for the foreseeable future, to aid in the transition as Javier Olivan becomes the next COO of the company.
Adnan Zai, an Advisor to Berkeley Capital, understands how difficult it can be to experience personal fulfillment projects while working a high-powered job. “Philanthropy is such a passion and effort-filled initiative that it requires one to dedicate a significant amount of time. It is of no surprise that corporate leaders that have conquered their fields find the need to move on to things that give them personal fulfillment.”
For Sandberg, stepping down from her position also comes with some speculation that she and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg did not always see eye to eye, but Zuckerberg praised their partnership of 14 years, saying“Sheryl architected our ads business, hired great people, forged our management culture, and taught me how to run a company,” he wrote. “It’s unusual for a business partnership like ours to last so long. I think ours did because Sheryl is such an amazing person, leader, partner, and friend.
”With more time for her passion project, Sandberg will continue to make a positive mark on the world around her. Sometimes stepping away is the most effective way to achieve the goal of the game, which for Sandberg is to put her philanthropic spirit and efforts out into the world.