It’s great news that’s being written about in all major business publications: Marissa Mayer, the first female engineer at Google and a very well known and respected executive of that company- is the latest CEO at Yahoo! It’s exciting on so many levels.
The press has been overall favorable about the choice. Known for being extremely smart, hard working, and a self-proclaimed ‘geek’, Marissa has been credited with driving a lot of Google’s success over the last 13 years. After 5 years as VP of Search Products & User Experience, in 2010 she became VP of Maps and Location Services. Articulate and personable, she’s often been the spokesperson for Google.
Some people have said Mayer is not ready to be a CEO because she hasn’t done it before. Carol Bartz and Scott Thompson, her predecessors, had led big non-internet companies. Marissa has been a senior executive in an internet company with technical and product knowledge that is directly relevant to Yahoo’s business. So who is better equipped?
Will she be able to save Yahoo? Time will tell. The company is clearly suffering. She’s the 5th CEO in the last five years. Personally, I believe that if she can’t turn things around, no one can.
The other piece of the news that’s attracted a lot of attention is the announcement that Marissa is pregnant with her first child, due this fall, and she plans to take very little if any time off for maternity leave. There’s as much being written about her pregnancy as there is about her appointment to the CEO position. It shows women can have it all. But her taking little or no maternity leave sets the wrong tone for other employees. [If she goes right back to work- it signals that all women should cut short their maternity leaves]. It’s a good thing for women- it’s a bad thing for women. I do understand that what she does implies that other women should follow suit. But let’s face it- it she planned to take off 6-8 weeks for maternity leave right after she started this job, there’d be a chorus of folks complaining that it’s irresponsible of her to have taken the job. Consider the overall context. Given that she is the CEO and she needs to turn the company around quickly, cutting short her maternity leave is a reasonable choice this time. If/when she has a second child, she may make a different choice.
So let’s celebrate the latest female CEO in tech. Congratulations Marissa!