Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has an impressive resume. It includes Google, McKinsey and the World Bank along with Facebook. She took the job of wrangling a ‘product visionary’ who has had some issues in the past around customer response to new products and features (not to mention privacy). Now, Henry Blodget notes, at Business Insider IGNITION 2011, Facebook has gone from a company without a vision to one of the largest, fastest growing and most important destinations on the web. As he says to Sandberg, ‘You built this amazing business.’

Here’s how.

Sandberg is quite clear that CEO Mark Zuckerberg is the visionary, and that it was the entire Facebook team that is responsible for the company’s success. She adds, ‘I really believed in what Facebook was doing,’ when she was considering joining the company, and she was already a user.

This helps. You need to believe in a company if you’re going to be one of its top leaders.

Blodget continues that ‘Facebook is always living at the edge of privacy’ and that Zuckerberg thinks ‘like a college student’ in believing that everything should be public. But, he adds, the customer reaction to Facebook’s privacy issues is no longer ‘knee-jerk’. He credits Sandberg: ‘You’ve gotten a handle on that.’

Sandberg explains, ‘Mark is a product visionary. And what he’s really been a visionary in is privacy.’ Now, few are really going to get on board with that perspective, but she continues that ‘privacy you control’ is central to Facebook’s philosophy. ‘Mark deeply understood that if you want people to share, you have to give them control over privacy.’

Is Zuckerberg’s greater ‘restraint’, Blodget asks, the result of Sandberg’s influence?

Unsurprisingly, she dodges this one and returns to a monologue about innovation … which is perhaps evidence of her influence in the company. Sandberg is polished and conservative in answering questions. She is measured, precise. This itself, is a departure from the days when Facebook would launch a product to wide customer anger and have to navigate its way back.

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