The tech world is abuzz with Marissa Mayer’s name. While the thirty-seven year old is no stranger to fame, having worked at Google as a well-recognized engineer, designer, product manager, spokesperson and eventual top executive since 1999, her recent career move to Yahoo as its CEO has garnered considerable media attention – both good and bad.

Born in Wisconsin in 1975 to an art teacher mother and engineer father, Mayer’s tendency to overachieve and succeed was evident while growing up. Throughout high school, she was on the dance and debate teams, a member of the math club, a piano player, a babysitter and president of the Spanish club. Combined with her busy extracurricular roster, her impressive academic performance resulted in offers of admission to all ten colleges she applied to. She ended up picking Stanford and completed a Bachelor of Science, studying symbolic systems. She followed up her degree with a Master of Science in computer science, focusing on artificial intelligence. On top of her studies at Stanford, she also taught in her junior year, volunteered at children’s hospitals and danced in the university ballet’s Nutcracker. Talk about a busy woman.

Upon completing her M.S, Mayer received fourteen job offers and worked at the UBS research lab in Zurich, Switzerland and at SRI International in Menlo Park, California before joining Google as their 20th employee and first female engineer. She began to draw media attention at Google as she quickly moved up the company’s ranks from her initial position as an engineer to a product manager, then to its most recognized public face and finally as one of its most prominent executives; becoming Google’s VP of search and subsequently VP of location and location-based products. Mayer oversaw the layout of Google’s famous frill-free search homepage and was responsible for maintaining the look and feel of users’ experience with the website. iGoogle, Google News, Google Maps, Google Chrome and Gmail amongst several other features were her idea and came to life under her watchful, whip-smart and driven developing eye. She’s known to have recruited and mentored thousands of employees, organizing thrice-weekly office hours to brainstorm ideas and offer advice to them. She also became prominently known in the media as Google’s relatable and attractive spokesperson, holding numerous conferences and events to discuss the ever-expanding tech world and developments within it.

The unfortunate part of being so professionally successful and praised by the media is that every move you make becomes closely monitored and analyzed by the public. On July 17th, Mayer left her post as a top executive at Google to become Yahoo!’s new CEO and hopefully revamp the floundering company. The decision was harshly dissected by the media, with most writers expressing their doubt that Mayer, if anyone at all, could revive a company that has struggled to define itself and generate much profit since the mid 2000s. Shortly after her career move, Mayer announced that she was expecting a baby boy in October with venture capitalist husband Zachary Bogue but would be working throughout her maternity leave – which also received negative media attention. The general consensus is that Mayer won’t be able to properly bond with her baby if she works throughout the crucial first few months of its life. Naysayers think that she should take several months off and focus on being a mother, not on her work at Yahoo! In addition, she’s been criticized in the media for her relationship with Larry Page in the early 2000s, with several outlets speculating that it could have helped her get ahead at Google and eventually brought her to the powerful position she was at when she left the company.

Here at SWIX, we say that if you can handle doing it all – do it all. Kudos to Marissa Mayer for taking on the fine act of balancing a challenging career and burgeoning family life. Granted, her $300 million net worth and the $71 million salary she’ll be earning at Yahoo! this year alone will probably enable her to hire some help, which is to be expected given how busy she is. While Yahoo! has failed to find its identity for years, they couldn’t have picked a better and more experienced candidate to lead them back to success.

Fun facts to know about Marissa Mayer

  • She spent $60,000 at an auction to have lunch with Oscar de la Renta, who’s clothing she’s obsessed with. She then generously bought 20 of his pricey cardigans as gifts to her friends “because they were on sale”. He’s named her as one of his top clients.
  •  She competes in triathlons in her spare time.
  •  She owns a $5 million dollar penthouse atop the Four Seasons Hotel in downtown San Francisco. It’s filled with colorful art that matches the primary colors seen on Google’s homepage.
  • She sits on numerous boards of directors; including Wal-Mart’s, the San Francisco Ballet’s, the New York City Ballet’s and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s.
  • Her first job was as a clerk at a grocery store, which she says taught her a diligent work ethic.
  • She describes herself as “a girly girl who likes cupcakes with a side of spreadsheets” and refuses to be stereotyped.

As a multifaceted company ourselves, we couldn’t agree with the last statement more.

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