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How Facebook’s VP of Product Finds Focus and Creates Conditions for Intentional Work

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When we asked Fidji Simo what she wanted to share with our readers, she polled her team at Facebook to see what they would highlight as her core competency. What attribute or habit has prompted her rocket-fueled rise through the company’s ranks? There was quick and enthusiastic consensus: Simo has the uncanny ability to juggle many important projects and priorities without losing focus.

As Vice President of Product at Facebook, this emphasis on intentional work has helped her team of more than 400 product managers and engineers develop countless innovative products for News Feed across video, news and advertising, including Facebook Live. Her knack for focus shows in these products. But it became even more apparent to her two years ago when she needed to manage her team remotely while on five months of bed rest during her pregnancy. Her continued success depended on rigorous prioritization and execution.

“It required immense focus,” Simo says. Working remotely meant she was forced to say “no” to anything that wasn’t critical, which created the time and space — physically and mentally — to put 100% of her effort toward the most pressing and important projects. By cutting out anything nonessential she was able to focus on the most strategic priorities, not only for the product team, but for herself.

“I actually felt so much more productive than when I was in the office,” she says of her time working remotely. When she returned, she brought this commitment to focused work with her — eager to share it with her team.

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