Meta’s chief business officer describes overcoming her initial reluctance to work at Facebook — and what changed her mind

Photo of a woman in a black dress on a red carpet and white background
Marne Levine in 2018, when she was the COO of Instagram. Getty Images
  • Marne Levine is the chief business officer of Meta, formerly Facebook.
  • She told a virtual classroom she initially didn’t want to work there when first approached in 2010.
  • She described how she realized there were other areas where she “was going to add value right away.”

People should be “open and imaginative” when considering pivoting to new industries, Meta’s chief business officer said as she described her initial reluctance to join the tech giant.

Marne Levine’s career had taken her from government to academia to financial services when Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer at Meta, formerly Facebook, approached her about working there in 2010.

Speaking on Tuesday during a virtual conversation with Case Western Reserve University, 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.

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.  

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. In June, she was named the chief business officer of Facebook, which was renamed Meta in October.

Levine told the 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.”

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.”

“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 said.

Levine added that, after 10 years with Meta, 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, which makes it fun.”