A Silicon Valley recruiter’s executive dream team
Executive recruiter Jana Rich heads up Russell Reynolds Associates’ media, entertainment and communications practice globally as well as the consumer sector in North America. She has helped place executives at some of Silicon Valley’s most high-profile companies, which makes her especially suited to field an expert team for the inaugural Fortune Fantasy Sports Executive League. Team creation by readers closed last week; scoring depends, in part, on how closely the player’s picks match those of experts like Rich. She spoke with Fortune’s Stephanie N. Mehta about some of her choices
Jana Rich: My pick for COO may be a little boring because I know she’s on everybody’s list: Sheryl Sandberg. But I couldn’t choose her for the role I really think she deserves. If I had the opportunity I would choose her for CEO. I’ve known Sheryl since 2000, at the time I was doing the CFO search for Google (GOOG), back before Eric Schmidt had joined, so I was working for Larry [Page] and Sergey [Brin]. We had gotten to a short list of candidates but the board couldn’t decide and Larry and Sergey said, “let’s take a pause, we’re going to introduce you to a couple of other interesting people, and maybe one of them could be our CFO.” They introduced me to Sheryl Sandberg.
I came away from the meeting and said, “she is one of the most exciting, dynamic people I’ve ever met.’ There’s this interesting dynamic here in Silicon Valley where the current thinking is that you shouldn’t replace the founder as CEO, you need to ‘find your Sheryl Sandberg,’ someone who can work side-by-side with the founder. I’ll say it this way: it is a really impossible task and there are not that many other Sheryl Sandberg’s out there, who would have the ability to put their ego somewhat in check. It is a tiny little bit frustrating for me that I couldn’t make her CEO.
If Sheryl Sandberg is above the bar for COO, Annie Young Scrivner of Starbucks (SBUX) is above the bar for CMO. She’s more than capable in the marketing function, but she’s all the kind of great things you want in a CMO, but Starbucks recently named her as president of Starbucks Canada, so she has general management experience. She’s a very exciting up-and-comer and as a human being she is so warm and approachable.
For non-executive chairman, I got the hugest smile on my face when I saw that Bill Campbell was a choice. I can’t think of a better guide, coach, whatever word you want to use: When you think of the CEOs and executives he’s coached, he’s the world’s best — the gold standard.
The utility player is a really cool category. At first, I didn’t think of Reid Hoffman but it is almost comical — in a good way that people in equal measure think of him as an entrepreneur, a CEO, a seed-stage investor, a product guru. It is really hard to find anyone else who has all the different facets of the equation that he has while having his natural curiousity. He’s one of the most networked people, in a genuine way, and he’s one of the most intellectually curious people I’ve ever met.