• Monday, June 24, 2024


Meet Indian-born Nikesh Arora, America’s second-highest paid CEO

Born in Ghaziabad in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, the 56-year-old has served in top positions in big companies such as Google and Softbank before joining Palo Alto Networks.

Nikesh Arora, CEO of Pal Alto Networks, US. (Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch)

By: Shubham Ghosh

THE WALL Street Journal on Tuesday (21) released the list of the highest paid chief executives in the US and the second highest position was taken by Indian-born Nikesh Arora, who leads Palo Alto Networks. Trailing only Malaysian-born Hock Tan of Broadcom Inc, Arora has an impressive compensation figure of $151.43 million (£119 million), which is more than what many high-profile tech executives such as Mark Zuckerberg of Meta, Sundar Pichai of Google and Tim Cook of Apple get.

Born to an Indian Air Force office in February 1968 in Ghaziabad in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, Arora did his schooling at the air force school in Delhi and graduated in electrical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in Varanasi in 1989.

Arora later went to the US where he received degrees in finance and business administration in Boston, Massachusetts. Even before his journey at Palo Alto Networks started, Arora had made a name for himself in the tech sector by working in major firms such as Google and Softbank.

Nikesh Arora with his wife Ayesha Thapar
Nikesh Arora, CEO of Palo Alto Networks, with his businesswoman wife Ayesha Thapar in Los Angeles, California, in April 2023. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for Breakthrough Prize)

His working career took off in 1992 when he joined Fidelity Investments, where he carried out roles in finance and technology management. He eventually became the vice president of Fidelity Technologies. Eight years later, he set up T-Motion, a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom, which became part of T-Mobile’s core services later. Arora also worked as the chief marketing officer of Deutsche Telekom AG’s T-Mobile International Division.

In 2004, he joined Google and served in major posts such as vice president of European operations, president of Europe, Middle East and Africa, and eventually, as the senior vice president and chief business officer. In 2012, Arora had become the highest paid executive at Google when the company hired him for a package of $51 million.

After his decade-long stint in Google, Arora joined Japan’s Softbank Corp in 2014. He became the group’s vice chairman and CEO of SoftBank Internet and Media Inc. He was even expected to succeed SoftBank’s legendary founder-CEO Masayoshi Son but resigned from his roles in 2016.

He then joined Palo Alto Networks, a California-based multinational cybersecurity company, in 2018 and is currently serving as its chairman and CEO.

Palo Alto Networks has in the past justified its CEO’s hefty pay package by highlighting the tech executive’s strong performance.

According to a report by Mint, the company had said about Arora’s compensation in 2023, “Because of this significant vested ownership and the amount that Mr. Arora was projected to vest in over the next several years, the Board determined that a meaningful equity award would be necessary to ensure that such award retains and engages Mr. Arora.”

Arora was conferred the Global Indian award at the ET Corporate Excellence Awards in 2015.

The Indian-origin CEO is married to Ayesha Thapar, a successful restaurateur in the US. She is also the scion of leading business conglomerate in India Thapar Group.

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