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Move Over Pichai and Nadella: Nikesh Arora and Yamini Rangan are the highest-paid Indian American CEOs

BY VEENA RAO

In a revealing study by C-Suite Comp, a data analytics firm tracking executive compensation, it turns out that the highest-paid CEOs in the United States do not necessarily helm the largest corporations. This annual report shines a spotlight on the staggering earnings of CEOs from smaller tech and financial firms, some of whom are outpacing the compensation of leaders at giants like Apple and Blackstone.

Indian American CEO Nikesh Arora of Palo Alto Networks stands out, topping the list of Indian American CEOs with a staggering $266.4 million in total compensation. Arora is also the chairman of Palo Alto Networks. He previously held senior executive roles at Google and SoftBank. Arora is known for his strategic leadership in technology and cybersecurity sectors.

Yamini Rangan, CEO of HubSpot, has made it to the list of the highest-paid female CEOs at number 8. HubSpot is a leading customer relationship management (CRM) platform. With a background in technology and software, Rangan has played a pivotal role in driving growth and innovation at HubSpot, focusing on empowering businesses with effective marketing and sales solutions.

Prior to becoming CEO, Yamini served as HubSpot’s first-ever chief customer officer, overseeing the marketing, sales, and service teams, according to the HubSpot website. A tech industry veteran, Yamini has more than 24 years of experience across product marketing, sales, and strategy. Yamini previously served as chief customer officer at Dropbox, where she was responsible for embedding customer focus across the organization. Before Dropbox, she was VP of sales strategy and operations at Workday, where she helped quadruple revenue and scaled the sales organization. At SAP, Yamini held several customer-facing leadership roles in strategy, pre-sales, and value-based selling, and helped close landmark deals.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in electronics engineering, a master’s degree in computer engineering, and an MBA from Berkeley. In 2019, Yamini was recognized as one of the most influential women in business by San Francisco Business Times. Yamini currently serves on the board of Splunk, a cybersecurity company.

The C-Suite Comp report, published this Monday, ranks CEOs based on “total compensation granted” and “compensation actually paid.” These metrics include salaries, bonuses, perks, stock options, and other financial benefits, with the latter metric providing a clearer picture of how executive pay aligns with company performance.

The report also highlights the broader trend of rising CEO compensation. TPG CEO Jon Winkelried leads the list with nearly $199 million in total compensation, followed by Harvey Schwartz of the Carlyle Group at $187 million. On the “compensation actually paid” scale, Tesla’s Elon Musk stands out with $1.4 billion, a figure driven by the company’s robust market performance.

The SEC’s 2022 rule for enhanced pay transparency has brought these figures to light, aiding stakeholders in understanding the correlation between executive pay and company performance. This regulatory change is pivotal for investors, employees, and the broader public in assessing the fairness and effectiveness of executive compensation.

Indian American executives are part of a diverse leadership landscape where only two women were among the top-paid CEOs: Sue Nabi of Coty and Safra Catz of Oracle.

The Indian American community’s representation in these rankings shows its growing influence and success in corporate America.

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