How the power players do it - by Fortune senior editor at large Patricia Sellers

Sandberg's Facebook pay places her on top

February 2, 2012: 11:53 AM ET

Who is Facebook's highest-paid executive? Sheryl Sandberg.

The Facebook COO received a base salary of just $300,000 last year, but Sandberg's total comp turned out to be $30.8 million, according to Facebook's pre-IPO filings. Meanwhile, her boss, CEO Mark Zuckerberg, got $500,000 in salary and some $1.5 million in total comp. (Don't feel too sorry for Zuckerberg. The 27-year-old boss owns more than a quarter of the company he co-founded--a stake that could be worth $24 billion or more when Facebook goes public.)

As for Sandberg, whom I interviewed on stage at the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit in October, her sweet pay may put to rest rumors that she could be tempted to leave Facebook, post-IPO, to try her hand at politics. "I have aspirations to do something that matters," said Sandberg, No. 12 on Fortune's Most Powerful Women list, when I asked her about her political aspirations.  "Right now, I don't think there's much I can do that would matter more than Facebook." Having jumped from D.C. (where she was once chief of staff to Treasury Secretary Larry Summers) to McKinsey to Google (GOOG) to Facebook, she explained that her personal career strategy generally involves "kind of an 18-month plan" and she evaluates opportunities along the way.

So I would give Sandberg, 42, a year to evaluate how the Facebook IPO plays out. For now, working at Facebook is darn good financially for her. Based on Fortune's 2011 rankings of America's highest-paid women, her $30.8 million would place her at No. 2 on the list, behind Oracle (ORCL) president and CFO Safra Catz.

Click here for the full transcript of my Summit interview with Sandberg.

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About This Author
Pattie Sellers
Pattie Sellers
Senior Editor at Large, Fortune
Executive Director of MPW/Live Content, Time Inc.

Pattie Sellers has written more than 20 Fortune cover stories including "Marissa Mayer: Ready to Rumble at Yahoo," "Muhtar Kent's New Coke," "Oprah's Next Act", "The $100 Billion Woman" (Melinda Gates), and "Gone with the Wind" (Ted Turner). She co-founded Fortune Most Powerful Women and oversees the Fortune MPW Summit, the preeminent gathering of women leaders in business and beyond—and programs such as Fortune MPW Entrepreneurs and the Fortune-U.S. State Department Global Women Leaders Mentoring Partnership. Pattie also develops Live Content across Time Inc. Her blog, Postcards, is about how power players lead and navigate their careers. Pattie won Time Inc.'s prestigious MVP award for her performance in 2012.

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