Meta's chief business officer once said she was initially reluctant to work at Facebook — a piece of career advice illustrates why she changed her mind

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Meta's chief business officer once said she was initially reluctant to work at Facebook — a piece of career advice illustrates why she changed her mind
Marne Levine in 2018, when she was the COO of Instagram.Getty Images
  • Marne Levine was COO of Instagram and is now the chief business officer of Meta, formerly Facebook.
  • She told a virtual classroom in 2017 she initially didn't want to work there when first approached.

Correction: Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to Levine's discussion at Case Western Reserve University as having occurred Tuesday, November 16, 2021. The talk was on November 16, 2017. The article has been updated to reflect this.

People should be "open and imaginative" when considering pivoting to new industries.

That was the verdict of Marne Levine, a longtime senior executive at Facebook, now called Meta, when she described her initial reluctance to join the tech giant during a talk in 2017, when she was chief operating officer of Instagram.

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Levine became Facebook's chief business officer in June, before it rebranded as Meta in October.

Her career had taken her from government to academia to financial services when Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer at then-Facebook, approached her about working there in 2010.

Speaking during a virtual conversation at Case Western Reserve University in November 2017, which Insider attended, Levine said she initially wasn't interested because she "never had imagined" that she would run policy for a company. "It wasn't on the road map," she added.

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After her husband called her a "pretty lazy thinker" for thinking that, Levine "went off and studied" before speaking to Sandberg about the role in more depth, she said.

"What I found in making that transition was, I knew government and I knew policy, so I could add value in many respects right away. What I hadn't done was do it for a high-growth tech company, and I hadn't grown an organization in that way before," Levine said.

"There were certain things I was going to learn on the job, and there were other areas where I was going to add value right away," she continued.

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Later that year, she accepted the offer to be Facebook's vice president for global public policy.

In 2014, Levine became the chief operating officer of Instagram before returning to Facebook in 2018 to become its vice president of global partnerships, business, and corporate development before taking her current role.

Levine told the classroom audience that it's important "to be open and be imaginative because a lot of these jobs didn't exist before, and you're dealing with new frontier issues, and nobody has the answer."

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Levine first met Sandberg at the Treasury Department, which she joined after college.

After years at the Treasury, she zigzagged from serving as the chief of staff for Larry Summers, Harvard University's president, to getting an MBA at Harvard University, to becoming a product manager for a financial-services company.

She was working at the National Economic Council when she was approached to work for Facebook, when it was "still pretty new."

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"I had certain passions and interests, but if I were to characterize my career, I would sort of say it was meandering with a sense of purpose. And it definitely wasn't premeditated," Levine told the 2017 classroom.

Levine added she loved her job's variety. She said it made it "really challenging, interesting, and fun."

"There's no set playbook for how to do any of this," Levine said, "so I have to think all day long and all the time."

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