GOOD & IBM present
Welcome to Figures of Progress

Big Data is empowering and driving 21st Century leaders, whether in business, city government, or even sports. This year, we’re expanding Figures of Progress and inviting you to take part in learning and doing. Join us as we continue the dialogue and explore how big data is being harnessed to change our world.

GOOD & IBM present

Meg Garlinghouse

Head of Social Impact, LinkedIn

Meg Garlinghouse is head of Social Impact at LinkedIn. In this role, she is responsible for identifying partnerships and programs that leverage the LinkedIn platform to create positive social impact for the world. With more than 187 million members worldwide, including executives from every Fortune 500 company, LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network on the Internet.

Prior to joining LinkedIn, Garlinghouse spent almost 10 years building and leading Yahoo!’s global community relations function. She also has a background in international development, previously working for the Asia Foundation, the World Bank, and as a Peace Corps volunteer. Garlinghouse received her bachelor’s degree in public policy from Duke and master’s in public policy from Harvard.
As an industry leader, what most influenced you on the road to your current position?

In August of 2001, I joined Yahoo to lead their community relations program. Three weeks later, 9/11 happened. I vividly remember walking into work that morning and employees turning to me and asking what we should do. In partnership with engineers and product folks, we quickly mobilized to place “donate now” buttons on the homepage and in two weeks raised more than $30 million dollars to help the victims of the tragedy. This was the moment when I realized the extraordinary potential of corporate philanthropy when it is designed and aligned with the objectives and strategy of a business. Yahoo was not in the position to write a check for $30 million but it could do something more powerful – leverage its most unique asset to connect consumers to causes. This philosophy has definitely influenced the way in which we’ve designed LinkedIn’s unique opportunity for social impact – connecting talent with opportunity to make a positive impact on the world.

What type of data and technology would you consider the most valuable to your company?

LinkedIn has an enormous amount of data powering our technology that enables us to connect the right talent (a professional) with the right opportunity (a job). Ultimately, it helps us create a more efficient talent marketplace where professionals can find the roles that will best leverage their skills, which typically results in more fulfilling work. In the future, we could continue to leverage this data to make information about the economy (like growing and shrinking industries and skills) more transparent so that students, educational institution and policy makers can make rational decisions about courses and careers.

How has data changed and informed the way you can interact with customers and improve your customer service?

We have a very data driven culture, and even have an internal mantra that “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.” We are constantly paying attention to how our members use LinkedIn and optimizing our products accordingly.

What are the qualities and/or skill sets that you believe future successful leaders will need to have?

The speed of innovation and the inter-connectedness of the world are both dizzying. Our co-founder, Reid Hoffman, believes that the best leaders are in a permanent state of beta. In other words, they are in a constant state of investing in themselves, learning and adapting to new technologies. For a leader to succeed in the future, having a mindset of being a lifelong student will be essential. I also believe that leaders who incorporate social impact as part of their business strategy (not as a separate department or initiative) will build a stronger brand, attract more committed employees and develop stronger partnerships with customers.

What is your greatest hope for how your work can influence positive change in our world?

I think LinkedIn has an unprecedented opportunity to connect the right professionals with the right opportunities to make a positive impact across the globe. People want to make a difference in the world, especially using their unique set of skills and knowledge. On our platform, we can help match these professionals with specific ways they can help address social problems. One example is a program we just launched called LinkedIn Board Member Connect. It is estimated that two million nonprofit board seats need to be filled each year. Fortunately, studies indicate that 78 percent of professionals would like to join a nonprofit board. This program helps nonprofit leaders leverage their networks on LinkedIn to find the right professionals to join their board.

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Response Box

LinkedIn uses data to link talented people with the right opportunity. Are there other industries that can use LinkedIn’s business model to connect supply with demand to create social impact?

Have a suggestion or idea? Share it with us.

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