Women to Watch

Women to Watch: Carolyn Everson, Facebook

As Facebook Becomes Even More of a Crucial Outlet for Advertisers, Former Microsoft Exec Is Helping Bring Brands to Life in a Social World

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A correction has been made in this story. See below for details.

Disney, Zagat, MTV , Microsoft -- those are only a few companies where Carolyn Everson headed major advertising divisions, many of them globally. With that kind of background, it's no wonder that in March she became the global sales boss at one of the most talked-about companies in marketing: Facebook. From now on, everything she does will be scrutinized by innumerable numbers of industry experts and tested by more than 600 million of her customers.

Carolyn Everson
Carolyn Everson

Her title at Facebook is VP-global ad sales, and she works with another powerful woman, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer. Ms. Everson made some noise when she left an equally impressive position at Microsoft after only nine months. She was reportedly recruited by Steve Ballmer himself, and her bolt to the social network fueled rumors of a legal dispute between the old tech giant and the new-school behemoth. But such chatter was squashed given the financial ties between the two -- Microsoft is a major investor in Facebook, and Microsoft's Bing just announced a deeper integration of Facebook's features in its search functions.

Ms. Everson, who earned an MBA from Harvard in 1999 and has been a "mad woman" for almost two decades, said she never meant to be in advertising. She realized she loved marketing while at MTV , where she spearheaded a $500 million multiyear advertising deal with Microsoft in 2007.

"I believe that marketing can make a difference in making you choose one product or service vs. another," Ms. Everson said. "Selling more of something is the lifeline of businesses and being at the center of helping my clients achieve their objectives is intellectually rewarding and certainly gratifying."

She said her favorite memory from MTV is going to a private concert by Wyclef Jean -- only 75 people attended -- where Wyclef rapped a song about her twin daughters. Ms. Everson keeps her work close -- she even got married at Disney World with Minnie, Mickey and Pluto as guests. "What Disney taught me early on in my career was what it means to be a brand and the importance of staying true to your values."

A resident of New Jersey, Ms. Everson works at Facebook's New York office, where she can stay close to her longtime friends on Madison Avenue, a major reason she was hired by Facebook. With 300 people working for her, she is focused on top strategic accounts and global agencies that have felt a bit ignored by Facebook until now. One of her team's efforts is Facebook Studio, a dedicated site where agencies can share and discuss creative work for social media. The first agency/Facebook hackathon was held May 12 in New York.

As Facebook becomes more and more a crucial media outlet for advertisers, Ms. Everson said many companies are eager to partner with it, and they "are asking for help in how to bring their brands to life." She is more than happy to show them.

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Ms. Everson reports to Sheryl Sandberg. She reports to David Fischer, Facebook's VP-advertising and global operations.

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