How An Intern Became's COO

George Hu, Salesforce.comGeorge Hu is now’s No. 2.

Photo: Jakub Mosur for (used by permission)

Interns everywhere, take heart: You could be the boss in less than a decade.Take COO George Hu. Just under 10 years ago, he got his start at the company—then a three-year-old startup—as an intern. is set to announce impressive earnings this afternoon—analysts expect bookings up 30 per cent year over year.

Granted, software as a service is a hot trend, as companies abandon complex on-premise installations for software delivered over the Web. But we think there’s also something to the way Salesforce grows its in-house talent—as exemplified by Hu’s career trajectory.

One secret Hu shared: He’s never been afraid to share his ideas, even when he was an intern. He proposed that scale down its product for small businesses. He didn’t think anything would come of his suggestion after he finished his internship. But to his surprise, he told Business Insider, when he returned to Salesforce in a full-time position, his colleagues had built the product, now called Group Edition.

The only question we have: Since Hu has averaged a promotion every year or so, what does Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff have planned for him next?

Here’s how Hu made those long, quick leaps up the corporate ladder.

  • 2002 Intern, then product manager
  • 2003 Director of product marketing
  • 2004 Vice president, sales force automation
  • 2005 Senior vice president, applications
  • 2006 Chief marketing officer
  • 2007 Executive vice president, products and marketing
  • 2008 Executive vice president, marketing and alliances
  • 2010 Executive vice president, platform and marketing
  • 2011 Chief operating officer

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