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Sunday
Jul222012

Can Marissa Mayer become Yahoo's Captain "Sully" Sullenberger?

My analogy may be dramatic, but Captain Sully was placed in a situation that could have been tragic.  He turned things around by safely landing a US Airways plane on the Hudson, and evacuating every single passenger off the plane without incident.  When discussing the situation with my Honey (my boyfriend), I launched into a passionate rant about how excited I am that Marissa Mayer has the opportunity to make tech history by pulling a "Captain Sully" with Yahoo. 

Captain Sully was the epitome of humility when he said he was just doing his job by making sure each passenger was able to leave the plane. However, everything I read about the incident and aftermath make me see him as a leader.  Ms. Mayer will need to find her inner Captain Sully and execute that level of commitment to bring Yahoo up from the depths. Remember when Yahoo could do no wrong? Well, those days seem like ages ago. I can't help but think about a recent Forbes interview where the Captain stated: “Whether you’re a leader or a follower, we need to create a culture where we can do our best work” and I wholeheartedly agree with him. Ms. Mayer will need to create that type of culture, among other things to reposition Yahoo and re-establish its place in the tech hierarchy.

Ms. Mayer had a successful career at Google. Prior to leaving she was the VP of Local, Maps, and Location Services. In addition, she's established herself within the start-up realm through her investments in Twitter and One Kings Lane. Although I don't know Ms. Mayer personally, I am slightly perturbed that she has become another piece of fodder in the  "Can Women Have it All" dialogue. The dialogue is fine, but throwing her into it before she has a chance to do her job is just a bit premature. She is an expectant mother, but let's not cut her accomplishments short (past and future), by exclusively focusing on that. Instead, let's have a discussion about how this executive, one of the first 20 employees at Google and their first female engineer, is going to accomplish something her predecessors could not.  If she made the call to leave Google for a position that would truly challenge her intellect, management skills, tenacity, and ingenuity I want to learn more about why she was selected, how she thinks, and what she has in store for Yahoo.

At this moment, I am more than impressed by Ms. Mayer's accomplishments. I'm even following her on Twitter!  I think it is fantastic that she is a gifted woman about to become a mother.  All I ask is that we give her a chance to share her vision for Yahoo's turnaround, give birth to her child, and implement her vision before passing judgement on whether she'll be a well-adjusted working mother.

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