Yahoo! is changing the face of leadership in Silicon Valley with the appointment of Marissa Mayer as CEO and I, for one, couldn’t be happier. The company has had four CEOs (plus 2 interim CEOs) over the past five years and Yahoo! just can’t seem to get their business model on the right track. Then, in steps Marissa Mayer – a woman CEO – which is a rarity in Silicon Valley leadership circles. At the age of 37, she’s the youngest Fortune 500 CEO, not that age has anything to do with it because obviously Ms. Mayer is one intensely intelligent and vivacious lady. She’ll definitely need to be if she’s to solve Yahoo!’s many challenges. Ms. Mayer not only has to restore the company's financial health, but also needs to re-invigorate Yahoo! and restore the brand to its former glory.
But rather than talk about all of the challenges Ms. Mayer faces at Yahoo!, let’s talk about Ms. Mayer, the person – a truly bright spark who will undoubtedly ignite what I hope will be a fire in the heart of Silicon Valley and the Fortune 500 alike when it comes to hiring more female CEOs (with the addition of Mayer, there are 20 female CEOs in the Fortune 500). This lady is one “chic geek”! For all of you Brocade Women in Networking (WIN) members, you know who I’m talking about (hint…Weili Dai, co-founder of Marvell). Let’s face it, just look around and you’ll see that the technology sector is seriously lacking in females, let alone female CEOs. In fact, Brocade WIN was created, in part, to try and get more women interested in technology at a much earlier age and create more opportunities for them as they progress through their careers.
Ms. Mayer graduated from Stanford University with honors in symbolic systems and a Master’s in computer science - very impressive! Back in 1999, Ms. Mayer was hired as employee #20 at Google and was their first female computer programmer. With determination, creativity, perseverance and a lot of hard work, she moved up the ranks to Vice President of Location and Local Services. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Wal-Mart (one of only four women to sit on the company’s 16-person board). Oh, and did I mention Ms. Mayer is married and expecting her first child in October – and, yes, I’m very proud of Yahoo! for hiring her anyway and why not - what’s not to like?
No doubt, Ms. Mayer is being put to the ultimate test by turning a high-profile and downtrodden company around, while becoming a first time mom. Challenges certainly lie ahead, but judging from her track record, she’s “in it to win it” and if anyone can do this, she can. So, I hope you’ll join me and many others as we anxiously observe Ms. Mayer as she continues down this impressive career path and not only deliver a healthy baby in October but deliver some healthy business results for Yahoo! within the next 12 months. She’s certainly an inspiration to Brocade WIN and women everywhere. Who knows, maybe the presidency of the United States is next on her list? I’d vote for her.