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One important career lesson from Marissa Mayer’s move to Yahoo! that nobody is talking about

July 19th, 2012 · No Comments

New Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer nabs $71 million pay package.

The truth about Marissa Mayer: She has two contrasting reputations.

Yahoo: Help Us, Marissa Mayer. You’re our only hope.

By now you have probably seen plenty of headlines about Marissa’ move to Yahoo!.

Put aside the money, the power, the glamour, the pretty face, the pregnancy, and the intrigue to turn around a struggling internet giant, there is one aspect of Marissa’s move that nobody is talking about.

Here is an important lesson: Marissa just gives herself a promotion of two levels at another company while taking essentially zero risk.

This move is no brainer!

Marissa is not even a member of the Google’s executive management team – she is a vice president who reports to a Senior Vice President. By taking the CEO job, she essentially moved up two levels.

This is like a successful assistant college basketball coach takes an NBA head coaching job without any prior head coaching experience.

I’m not arguing about Marissa’s ability. I’m just pointing out that this is a pretty big jump in term of responsibility and seniority in a major corporation.

At the same time, this is NOT a risky move. What’s the potential down side? If she fails, she can always blame the failures of her predecessors. It’s really a sinking ship; there are only so much a new leader can do to save the company. She will not lose her credibility even if she fails at Yahoo!.

On the other hand, if she succeeds, she will join the rank of silicon valley legends. She will be credited as someone who saves Yahoo!.

This reminds me the most important lesson I learned from my two-year business school experience. One of my favorite professor told the class: “turnaround situation is fun and easy. It can only get better.”

If you find yourself in a sinking ship, don’t panic. There might be exciting opportunities right there.

Tags: Career Fast Track · Corporate Ladder

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