A day in the life of an executive at Facebook, the best place to work in America

Julie ZhuoJulie Zhuo often multitasks by listening to a TED Talk or an audiobook while running.
  • Business Insider interviewed Facebook‘s vice president of product design, Julie Zhuo, about how she spends her days at the tech company.
  • She broke down her daily routine from her early-morning workout to spending time with her family in the evening.
  • Zhuo also discussed the strategies she uses to get her work done and live a balanced life.

For Facebook’s vice president of product design, Julie Zhuo, intentionality is key.

That’s reflected in her daily routine at Facebook, which Glassdoor just named the most desirable place to work in America.

Zhuo has worked at Facebook for over 11 years, having joined a team of only about 100 employees. She’s worked on products like Facebook’s News Feed, the “like” button, and user profiles. Now she oversees the design of many of Facebook’s core user experiences – and a team of more than 250 employees.

“Facebook is a very mission-oriented place,” she told Business Insider. “Most of the people that work here really care about building community and making tools that help bring people closer together. That’s a huge part of why I’ve been here for so long and I think many of the people I work with are here.”

Zhuo recently chronicled her daily schedule, habits, and strategies for Business Insider – here’s what a day in the life of one Facebook exec looks like:

On weekdays, Zhuo wakes up around 7 a.m. To kick off her day, she works out on an elliptical for about 10 minutes, then showers. The Facebook exec often runs while listening to a TED Talk, an audiobook, or music. “I like the idea of starting the day having accomplished something, even if it’s very small,” she said. Zhuo says she also starts thinking about her schedule and daily tasks first thing in the morning.

Julie Zhuo

Zhuo’s husband, Mike Sego, Facebook’s engineering director, prepares breakfast for the family — that’s usually eggs and coffee for Sego and Zhuo, and milk and snacks for their two young children. They get the kids dressed, and their nanny picks them up at 8:30 a.m.

Julie ZhuoZhuo’s daughter.

Zhuo and Sego are at the office by 9 a.m., and she tries to take some time to plan for her meetings. “I try to be very intentional about my time,” she said. “It’s easy to get into the habit of reacting to what’s happening during the day.”

Julie ZhuoFacebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California, is filled with art. This installation depicts a wall of many different pixels. Zhuo often walks past it on her way to meetings.

Zhuo spends much of the day meeting with teams to discuss design and product development. She keeps up with her busy schedule by establishing and sticking to a clear plan. “I go into every meeting with an idea of what I want to do or say,” she said. “That makes it much, much easier when you’re contact-switching between many different things.”

Julie ZhuoZhuo meeting with a team to discuss Facebook Groups.

That said, the Facebook exec’s workdays tend to vary. “Some days we’re getting ready to launch a feature, and there’s a lot more work to do,” Zhuo said. “Some days it’s early-stage brainstorming.”

Julie ZhuoFacebook’s office ‘Wall’ in Menlo Park.

Zhuo also focuses on recruiting and hiring, and making sure her team is living up to the company’s culture. “The culture and health of the team are very top of mind for me,” she said.

Julie ZhuoInstagram’s office in Menlo Park.

For Zhuo, one of Facebook’s biggest draws is its sense of community. “What we do every day is we build a product that tries to build community and bring people closer together,” Zhuo said. “It’s really hard for us to accomplish that if our internal community is not strong.”

Julie ZhuoZhuo said that much of the art in Facebook’s headquarters traced back to the company’s mission.

As a result, the headquarters, in Menlo Park, California, is brimming with art —  including plenty of employee-created posters. “It’s meant to remind us of the work we do,” she said. It’s meant to remind us of our own community. It’s meant to give a voice.”

Julie ZhuoPosters on the wall at Facebook’s headquarters.

Facebook also runs a collaborative platform called Workplace to foster that sense of community. Zhuo is a member of the internal groups Women @ Facebook, Facebook Design, Mums in Tech, and Parents @ Facebook. She says they’re great at “giving support, giving advice, helping people coordinate and work better.”

Julie ZhuoZhuo’s colleague Margaret Stewart, Facebook’s VP of design for ads and business platforms, prepping for a Facebook Live interview. Stewart and Zhuo are both part of groups like Women @ Facebook and Facebook Design.

Days at Facebook can get pretty busy, so Zhuo says she strives to keep up her energy by eating snacks and refuelling with a lot of tea during the afternoon. “There’s a saying we have at Facebook — that every day feels like a week,” she said.

Julie Zhuo

Whether she’s running a product review, solving a problem in a hackathon, or attending one of CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s companywide Friday Q&As, Zhuo works to remain present. “Sometimes I catch myself when I’m in a meeting, I’ll still be thinking about the last meeting,” she said. “I’m going to come across as more disengaged in that current meeting.”

Julie ZhuoZhou testing a filter on the Facebook Camera.

“I’ve loved working with all of my coworkers and the people I get to interact with every day,” Zhuo said. “I think that the relationships that we build — and the ways we go about solving problems, working together, and having hard conversations — recognise each other as the individuals and authentic people that we are.”

Julie ZhuoZhou meeting with a designer.

Zhuo and Sego head home from work around 6 p.m. She says the family does a lot of cooking over the weekend and mostly eats leftovers throughout the week, supplemented with salad and delivery. Family dinner typically starts around 6:40 p.m. Afterward, Zhuo and Sego play with their kids.

Julie ZhuoZhuo’s two children at dinner.

Every night is different for the family. Sometimes they will tour Menlo Park or go out to eat, and other times they will stay at home and watch a show or read a story. Either way, during family time, Zhuo and Sego leave their phones in another room. “We just don’t check anything,” Zhuo said. “That’s our time to really focus on the kids and catch up on everyone’s day and play with them.” After the kids head to bed around 8:30 p.m., Zhuo spends time with Sego, does chores, reads, or catches up on work before turning in at 11.

Julie ZhuoZhuo and her daughter.

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