News Column

Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg Will Headline 2013 Montana Economic Development Summit

May 9, 2013

Sen. Max Baucus made a personal phone call to Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg to invite her to Montana next September for his 2013 Montana Economic Development Summit.

"I called her up and said, 'We're putting on an exciting economic development summit, it really works, we'll have great folks, and we'd be honored if you'd come," Baucus, D- Mont, said Thursday. "She said, 'You bet.' "

Sandberg will be the headliner for the summit in September at the Montana Technology Enterprise Center in Butte. Baucus made the announcement in Missoula on Thursday.

It was the third stop on Baucus' Montana Solutions Jobs Tour. Along with visiting businesses and taking suggestions for what should be included on the the two-day summit's schedule, Baucus has announced a summit headliner at each stop.

Sandberg will joined at the summit by Ryan Lance, ConocoPhillips' chairman and chief executive officer; Jim McNerney, Boeing's chief executive officer; and Safra Catz, Oracle's president and chief financial officer.

The women headliners, Catz and Sandberg, are "both terrific," Baucus said. "They have lots of energy. (They're) really smart, very excited about coming. It's not just something they're doing just because it's on their schedule, it's something they're looking froward to and want to participate (in)."

Baucus hopes Sandberg will share with summit attendees "what she thinks works and give us some advice about what we could do through social networking. She'll probably talk a little bit about her book, 'Lean In, and about helping women advance even more quickly."

Catz's Oracle bought Bozeman-based software company RightNow Technologies for $1.5 billion in 2011.

Oracle is "very high" on Montana, Baucus said at the Missoula meeting. "(Catz) told me they're going to expand the facility in Bozeman."

Not only is the summit a great place to learn, Baucus reminded the table full of area business leaders and civic leaders gathered at MonTEC Thursday that the summit is a prime opportunity to show top world business leaders what Montana has to offer.

The "jobs-focused" summit, which takes place at the Montana Tech campus in Butte every three years, has helped spur some big business deals around the state, he said.

GE officials attended the 2007 summit and then decided to build a Center of Excellence processing center in Billings. LigoCyte Pharmaceuticals of Bozeman has secured more than $28 million in venture capital investments since meeting with investors at the 2007 summit, Baucus said.

Baucus stressed that the long-term goals of the summit are to raise the state's per capita income and help secure jobs here for all Montana kids.

"What could help do that?" Baucus asked meeting attendees Thursday.

Polson businessman Jon Marchi suggested the summit include a focus on the growing number of venture capital and angel fund investing opportunities around the state.

"In the case of RightNow, I don't know how many millionaires (the sale to Oracle) made, but it made a lot," Marchi said. "These are people with significant funds and they're looking for investments."

Blue Marble Biomaterials founder James Stephens suggested that along with bringing ambassadors from different countries, the summit include information about how Montana businesses could use things like "sovereign wealth funds" to help grow their operations.

"That's definitely an asset that could work well here," Stephens said.

Kalispell Chamber of Commerce President DeAnn Thomas said she wants the summit to include a focus on transportation issues, specifically on how to best increase transportation opportunities to help support the growing manufacturing industry in the Flathead Valley.

Missoula Economic Partnership President James Grunke suggested including a "large pharmaceutical company perspective" at the summit.

BitterRoot Economic Development District Inc. Executive Director Marcy Allen noted that a recent Missoula Vaccine Partnership feasibility study showed Missoula has right assets to be a regional center for vaccine production.

"We just need to mine and focus that technology," Allen said.

Rocky Mountain Biologicals Inc.'s Paul Nisbet told Baucus that "we do have great assets as well as a talented workforce. ... The summit could help us make connections."

Blue Marble's Stephens also said he hopes those invited to the summit are influential enough in their companies to make things happen for Montana companies.

Baucus should invite the kind of people who "if they have a whim and they want to work with a Montana business, they can execute on it," Stephens said.

Baucus also gathered ideas in Harlowton, Billings, Bozeman, Great Falls, Helena and Butte.

"This all depends on ideas and involvement we get from you and others I've spoken with around the state," Baucus said at the meeting in Missoula. "It's only as good as the ideas you bring."

The summit will take place Sept. 16-17 in Butte.


Sheryl Sandberg joined Facebook in 2008. In 2012, she was the first woman to be appointed to the board of directors, a news release from Baucus' office said.

Sandberg's book "Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead" was published in March.

The Associated Press reports that "Lean In" has been at No. 1 on's bestseller list since coming out March 11 and has also placed high on lists for Barnes & Noble and other sellers.

In the book, Sandberg recalls times during her career when she doubted herself and "leaned back" from opportunities.

Sandberg previously served at the World Bank, as chief of staff for the U.S. Treasury Department and as Google's vice president of global online sales and operations.

"I want to change the conversation from what women can't do to what we can do," Sandberg says in a video on the website. "This book is for women of all ages ... anyone who wants to lean in and take on more leadership."

Source: Copyright Missoulian (MT) 2013

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