This article was originally published on eFinancialCareers.
If you want to earn millions working for Facebook but you are neither a programmer nor someone with a background in the commercial division of a big tech firm, there is still hope. You can try publicly opining about the societal impact of artificial intelligence, talking up Facebook at public events as if you’re already an employee, and founding a think tank which showcases many of your Facebook-friendly opinions. You can also know a lot about the European Union and how to thwart its early-stage plans to regulate Facebook like a telecommunications company sometime in the future. If that’s you, you’re in.
Such was the way of Nick Clegg, the former U.K. deputy prime minister and ex-member of the European Parliament. After years in politics, Clegg has joined Facebook as head of global affairs and communications on a salary and benefits package seemingly worth anything from £4m ($5.2m) to £7m ($9.2m). More importantly, Clegg says he’s received assurances that he will be admitted into Mark Zuckerberg’s “inner circle…black box,” and given “real authority.” The Financial Times notes that Clegg is the social network’s first really senior hire since 2014.
So far, so exciting—for Clegg. Whether anyone else with a complete absence of technology experience could achieve such a high-ranking job at Facebook without senior governmental connections is questionable. Indeed, the Financial Times notes a trend for tech companies to hire ex-political types as communications and public policy professionals: Clegg is not the first.
Nonetheless, his appointment still offers some helpful insights for anyone else who aspires to join Zuckerberg’s clique. Don’t be too fawning. As Facebook struggles for moral credibility, it helps for it to hire people who’ve overcome doubts about its culture. In 2016, Clegg famously said he was not “especially bedazzled by Facebook. I find the messianic Californian new-worldy-touchy-feely culture of Facebook a little grating.” Not anymore.
Also, don’t be too eager. Clegg reportedly rebuffed Facebook’s initial advance, which simply made the company keener to hire him. He was phoned while he was walking the Alps. He was flown to California. He got to sit in Mark Zuckberg’s garden for two entire hours. Then he was flown back to London and back to California with his wife to meet Zuckerberg for dinner. Others might want to take note of the hiring tactics: At the very least, they could start tending their gardens in preparation for a horticultural charm offensive in summer 2019.
Either way, this is what it’s like when a big technology firm really wants you. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, said Clegg is a “thoughtful and gifted leader” who “understands deeply the responsibilities we have to people who use our service around the world.” Clegg is moving to California in January 2019… just before Brexit strikes in the UK.