Two Indian American among top 15 US CEOs

August 15th, 2008 - 7:22 pm ICT by IANS  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, Aug 15 (IANS) Two Indian American executives - publishing software giant Adobe’s Shantanu Narayen and global outsourcing major Cognizant’s Francisco D’Souza - figure among Forbes list of America’s top-paid young CEOs topped by another South Asian. Topping the list of under-45 chief executives is Nabeel Gareeb of Pakistani origin, CEO of chipmaker MEMC Electronic Materials since April 2002 with a total pay package of $79.5 million in 2007.

Narayen with $12 million is ranked fifth while D’Souza rounds out the list of 15 young CEOs with a compensation of $3.7 million. At 39, D’Souza is the youngest of the wunderkinds. Gareeb is 43 and Narayen a year older, according to the list published in Forbes.com.

Gareeb was also the sixth highest-paid CEO overall, earning a total $79.5 million in 2007, the vast majority in company stock. His $1.8 million in salary and bonus was shy of the $2.2 million median payout for chiefs in the semiconductor business.

Next up: Jen-Hsun Huang, the 45-year-old founder of graphics chip maker Nvidia. He’s been running his company for 15 years and pulled in $46 million in total compensation in 2007 - most of it, like Gareeb, in company stock he cashed in.

Coming in third is Marc Holliday, chief of SL Green Realty. The only one of the young bunch in the real estate industry, Holliday claimed total compensation of $15.7 million last year.

Rounding out the double-digit earners, in order, are Jonathan Schwartz, head of Sun Microsystems, with $13.5 million; Shantanu Narayen (Adobe Systems, $12 million); and Michael T. Fries (Liberty Global, $11 million).

Noting that “young chief executives are becoming an endangered species”, the report said since the height of the tech boom in 2000, the number of CEOs aged 45 or younger at the helm of the 500 largest publicly traded US companies has dropped by more than half, to 28 from 60, and just three haven’t yet reached their 40th birthdays.

Unsurprisingly, the remaining crop of wunderkinds preside mainly over technology firms, though retail and financial services empires are in the mix, too, the report said.

And though this group is handsomely paid within their industries, their $9.2 million average annual compensation trails the average for the 500 as a whole, which came in at $12.8 million.

But that gap may be closing. After swelling 38 percent in 2006, overall CEO compensation for the top 500 retreated 15 percent last year, thanks to performance-based compensation packages tied to flagging earnings and share prices, Forbes said.

Meanwhile, the 28 youngsters under 45 collectively enjoyed a 5.9 percent increase in overall compensation.

Where do these guys come from? Many rise from within - though it takes a lot of time to learn a business inside and out, earn the respect of the board, and perhaps hardest of all, win the hearts of employees, Forbes said.

Excluding four founding entrepreneurs, including 39-year-old Yahoo! chief Jerry Yang and Nvidia’s Huang, the 45-and-under set spent an average of nine years climbing the ranks before moving into their corner offices, it noted.

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