By Jim Finkle and Aaron Pressman
BOSTON, May 23 (Reuters) - Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg spoke to Harvard University students in her first public appearance since the company's disappointing initial public offering, but refrained from addressing the controversy around its messy, glitch-plagued debut.
Instead, Sandberg urged students graduating this week from Harvard's business school to work for fast-growing companies, communicate honestly and address inequality in the workplace.
"We need to acknowledge openly that gender remains at issue at the highest levels," she told a crowd of students and their families assembled Wednesday afternoon on a lawn outside the business school library alongside Boston's Charles River. Only about 16 percent of the highest corporate jobs are held by women, the same level as a decade ago, she noted.
Sandberg, who visited her alma mater with her parents and two children, only once made reference to the IPO in her speech. After urging the graduates to use Facebook to stay in touch, she said: "We're public now, so could you please click on an ad or two while you're there."
Asked before and after the speech to comment on the IPO, Sandberg said she was not speaking to the media.
She told the crowd that she sometimes gets anxious: "When things are unresolved, I get a tad anxious," said the 42-year-old who became one of Harvard's wealthiest alumni after the IPO. "People have never accused me of being too calm."
She chatted and posed for photos with dozens of students after the speech. Several said they had accepted jobs with Facebook. "I'll see you over the summer," she said to one of them.
Facebook shares closed on Wednesday at $32 a share, 16 percent below the price at the IPO last week. The deal was beset by computer glitches at the Nasdaq market and lower-than-expected demand from investors.
Facebook and lead underwriter Morgan Stanley were sued by shareholders on Wednesday who claimed they hid the social networking company's weakened growth forecasts ahead of its $16 billion initial public offering.
Sandberg received an undergraduate degree from Harvard in 1991 and an MBA from the business school in 1995.
#9: Ellen Kullman, CEO Of DuPont
PeekScore: 7.32 / 10.00 <a href="http://www.peekyou.com/ellen_kullman/78658725" target="_hplink">Ellen Kullman</a> began her <a href="http://www2.dupont.com/Our_Company/en_US/executives/kullman.html" target="_hplink">career at DuPont</a> about 24 years ago, working her way from marketing manager up through the ranks of executive vice president to president to her current position as CEO and chair of the board, which she began on January 1, 2009.
#8: Virginia Rometty, CEO And President Of IBM
PeekScore: 7.60 / 10.00 <a href="http://www.peekyou.com/ginni_rometty/333679852" target="_hplink">Virginia "Ginni" Rometty</a> was appointed to her current positions as president and CEO of IBM <a href="http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/biography/10069.wss" target="_hplink">just this past year</a>, on January 1. One of her biggest accomplishments over the course of her 31-year career at IBM was the acquisition she led of consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/26/technology/ibm-names-a-new-chief.html?pagewanted=all" target="_hplink">for $3.5 billion</a>.
#7: Cher Wang, Co-founder And Chairperson Of HTC
PeekScore: 7.68 / 10.00 In addition to co-founding HTC Corp., <a href="http://www.peekyou.com/cher_wang/167494999" target="_hplink">Cher Wang</a> founded the computer processor supplier VIA Technologies, Inc. <a href="http://www.htc.com/www/about/#leadership" target="_hplink">in 1987</a>. Last October, <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/ericsavitz/2011/10/26/cher-wang-the-most-powerful-woman-in-wireless-takes-on-apple/" target="_hplink">Forbes named Wang</a> "The Most Powerful Woman In Wireless."
#6: Safra Catz, President Of Oracle
PeekScore: 7.80 / 10.00 <a href="http://www.peekyou.com/safra_catz/51174974" target="_hplink">Safra Catz</a> assumed the role of president of hardware and software company Oracle <a href="http://www.oracle.com/us/corporate/press/BoardofDirectors/016342.htm" target="_hplink">in January 2004</a>. <a href="http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2011/fortune/1109/gallery.highest_paid_women.fortune/index.html" target="_hplink">According to CNNMoney</a>, Catz is the highest paid woman in business, with total earnings of $42,095,887 in 2010.
#5: Ursula Burns, CEO Of Xerox
PeekScore: 7.89 / 10.00 <a href="http://www.peekyou.com/ursula_burns/57999322" target="_hplink">Ursula Burns</a> joined Xerox <a href="http://news.xerox.com/pr/xerox/ursula-m-burns.aspx" target="_hplink">more than 30 years ago</a> as a mechanical engineering summer intern and has held her position as CEO since July 2009. Shortly after becoming CEO, she led the <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125413413514545919.html" target="_hplink">$6.4 billion purchase</a> of Affiliated Computer Services, <a href="http://news.xerox.com/pr/xerox/ursula-m-burns.aspx" target="_hplink">the largest acquisition in Xerox history</a>.
#4: Susan Wojcicki, SVP Of Advertising At Google
PeekScore: 8.00 / 10.00 <a href="http://www.peekyou.com/susan_wojcicki/76320003" target="_hplink">Susan Wojcicki's</a> run with Google started even before Google began. Back in 1998, Wojcicki rented out her garage -- the tech giant's birthplace -- to its co-founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/tech/techinvestor/corporatenews/2007-07-04-google-wojcicki_N.htm" target="_hplink">for $1,700 a month</a>. After Google got on its feet, Wojcicki served as <a href="http://www.crunchbase.com/person/susan-wojcicki" target="_hplink">its first marketing professional</a>, eventually reaching her current position as senior vice president of advertising <a href="http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/10/25/google-promotes-susan-wojcicki-advertising-executive/" target="_hplink">in October 2010</a>.
#3: Marissa Mayer, VP Of Location And Local Services At Google
PeekScore: 8.22 / 10.00 At just 37 years old, <a href="http://www.peekyou.com/marissa_mayer/3429432" target="_hplink">Marissa Mayer</a> is the <a href="http://www.crunchbase.com/person/marissa-mayer" target="_hplink">youngest member</a> of Google's executive operating committee. The talented exec joined the Google team fresh out of Stanford <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/06/google-marissa-mayer-women-in-tech_n_891167.html" target="_hplink">back in 1999</a>.
#2: Sheryl Sandberg, COO Of Facebook
PeekScore: 8.34 / 10.00 <a href="http://www.peekyou.com/sheryl_sandberg/365002232" target="_hplink">Sheryl Sandberg</a> also has some ties to Google -- she used to serve as the company's vice president of global online sales and operations. Nowadays, Sandberg is one of the most powerful women in tech as Facebook's COO, a position she <a href="http://allthingsd.com/20080304/sheryl-sandberg-will-become-coo-of-facebook/" target="_hplink">snagged in March 2008</a>.
#1: Meg Whitman, President And CEO Of Hewlett Packard
PeekScore: 8.98 / 10.00 Since becoming HP's new president and CEO b<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/22/meg-whitman-hp-ceo_n_976597.html" target="_hplink">ack in September 2009</a>, <a href="http://www.peekyou.com/meg_whitman/50531455" target="_hplink">Meg Whitman</a> has made some bold moves -- most recently, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/20/hp-pc-printer_n_1367656.html" target="_hplink">Reuters revealed</a> her plans to combine the company's PC and printing divisions in order to streamline sales. While it's <a href="http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-meg-whitman-20120405,0,4066578.story" target="_hplink">still yet to be seen</a> whether Whitman can turn HP around, she certainly <a href="http://www8.hp.com/us/en/company-information/executive-team/meg-whitman.html" target="_hplink">has enough experience to help her out</a>: Prior to her current position, she served as president and CEO of eBay for 10 years, from 1998 to March 2008.
ALSO ON THE HUFFINGTON POST
Sheryl Sandberg discusses marriage, her role as CEO of Facebook, and her high hopes for the future of women today.