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A lunch with Sir Martin Sorrell and Sheryl Sandberg

Earlier this week I was lucky enough to attend The Thirty Club lunch event hosted by Sir Martin Sorrell, with guest speaker Sheryl Sandberg (COO of Facebook). The Thirty Club, established in London in 1905, is a monthly dining club where media and advertising leaders get together over lunch to hear from a distinguished speaker.

Not only did I share a table with Sir Martin Sorrell – something you don’t do everyday – but I also had the chance to meet a range of individuals from different agencies, and hear what Sheryl Sandberg had to say about the future of Facebook and her new book ‘Lean In’. Here is a brief round up!

Sir Martin Sorrell was the perfect lunch companion. He was interested in what university I attended and where I worked, but he also took an interest in more trivial, fun stuff – something that made me feel completely at ease during the event.

After lunch Sheryl Sandberg gave us a brief history of her journey from Google to Facebook. Under her leadership, Google grew from a handful of employees to thousands, and soon after joining Facebook, she quickly figured out how to make it profitable from focusing on advertising.

She reminded us that her success to date has not been without its failures or challenges. When Facebook first launched it was confined to the desktop computer. The launch of the first iPhone highlighted an opportunity to develop a Facebook mobile app. Sandberg based Facebook’s entire mobile strategy around HTML 5 – back then, HTML 5 was hyped to be the future of app development. Unfortunately for Sandberg, it wasn’t. iOS and Android grew rapidly, and consequently Sandberg had to scrap a year’s worth of work based on this  strategy. This forced her to start from scratch and make the iOS and Android apps that we all know and use today.

Sandberg spoke very passionately about her new book ‘Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead’. She states that the world is still run by men, and for that to change younger generations of women need to overcome obstacles (such as feeling obliged to think of others before themselves) by “leaning in” to their careers. Her views revealed to me the invisible forces and the unspoken social codes that are still impeding women’s careers today.

It would be hard to forget my Thirty Club experience. Yes there was swanky food and bubbly. But that won’t be my lasting memory. Instead it’ll be the words from the individuals I rubbed shoulders with.