“This would be the perfect place to go to college. I would love to go to a place like this,” Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg said Friday just before she met with members of the Colgate Women in Business student group and others.
Later, during her keynote address that kicked off the university’s second annual Entrepreneur Weekend, Sandberg challenged the crowd of several thousand at Cotterell Court to stand up if they had ever told someone they would become president or CEO.
“Why did you not stand up,” Sandberg questioned the vast majority who stayed seated. “Ambition is complicated … but ambition is important.”
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The New York Times bestselling author of Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead explained her philosophy that women need to assert themselves in the workplace and to challenge common stereotypes, such as young girls being considered “bossy,” a word she would like to see banished.
“With the opportunity Colgate gives you,” Sandberg said. “You can create a more just world.”
For first-year student Nicole Brookman, who plans to major in English and French, Sandberg’s talk was elegant, had a message that resonated, and more importantly was delivered to a room filled with both men and women.
“I think her book is going to continue to break down those stereotypes for women,” Brookman said, adding that she can relate to being looked down upon at times for being ambitious. “That’s something that I’ve experienced.”
Thomas Wobby ‘15 said it was easy to agree with Sandberg. “I think everyone should be a feminist. I think there’s a lot of inequalities and it’s good to hear about it.”
Sandberg’s keynote was the first event on a weekend schedule that highlights Colgate’s successful drive to develop the entrepreneurial spirit among members of the campus community. The program continues on Saturday at 11 a.m. in the James C. Colgate Student Union, where student members of Thought Into Action will pitch the projects that they have been developing with the support of their alumni-entrepreneur mentors.
Chobani CEO Hamdi Ulukaya addresses a gathering of parents and students during a special lunch, and the university premieres its new speaking series, Little Talks, Big Ideas, at 2:30 p.m. in Colgate Memorial Chapel. A slate of alumni are scheduled to take to the stage, tell their stories, and share insights that they have gathered on the way to making their creative ideas a reality.