Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Yahoo's New CEO: Having Her Cake

At first, I thought I would blog about how Marissa Mayer’s move from Google to Yahoo's helm was a refreshing example of how a pregnancy was not viewed as a career-limiting move: How hope remains that young mothers may shake the business perception of distraction or flight risk. Then I read a post by Victoria Barret from Forbes on Quora’s insight into the move which did not mention Marissa’s pregnancy once - Why did Marissa Mayer Go To Yahoo? The Answer From Quora, Silicon Valley's Collective Water Cooler.

The post reminded me to view the development not as a gender issue, but to appreciate the magnitude of the move for Marissa as a business person rather than as a female. There is certainly a gender element in her acceptance of the role at Yahoo, as she becomes one of the most visible CEO’s of the decade. But the huge upside to her appointment has everything to do with who she is as an executive, a leader, a visionary, with insight into Yahoo’s weaknesses, and how she will right the ship she recently helped run aground.

Quora is Silicon Valley’s “collective water cooler” and as my first introduction to them, I am impressed with the terrific job they did of sidelining biases in their analysis of Marissa’s new role. There is great satisfaction in witnessing her escape from the limitations holding her back at Google. And watching a rising star willfully accept a challenge is exciting for everyone, including the conspiracy theorists!

While I still feel pride for women-kind in Marissa’s move, as well as some pity for her that she will most definitely miss out on some new-mom moments (and beyond) as she plans to work through her maternity leave, it is great to read about the potentially great upside she is about to experience and shepherd. I wish her all the best and am relieved to know that someone so capable is at the helm of a Google competitor -- to ensure that someone is keeping Google in check.

About three years ago, a former boss replied to my description of my ideal work/family balance with “so you want to have your cake and eat it too?!” There is nothing easy that comes with having your cake and eating it too in the work/family balance. Well, I hope Marissa gets her cake and gets to eat it too! That former boss, now with a new company, called me recently with a job offer I couldn’t refuse. There is nothing wrong with going for your cake and eating it too!

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