Indian American CEO Nikesh Arora sacrifices his salary, commits no layoffs to employees

indica News Bureau-

No layoffs and a big cut to his paycheck — that’s what Nikesh Arora, CEO of Palo Alto Networks Inc., is committing to in order to help his company and employees get through the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a report by CNBC, Arora will forfeit his salary and maintain staff as part of the network security provider’s coronavirus response plan. Arora is an Indian American business executive. He is the chief executive officer and chairman of Palo Alto Networks.

“We have committed to no COVID-19 layoffs in our company because people are very insecure, people are concerned about whether they’ll have a job once this economic thing comes back around,” Arora said on “Mad Money” with CNBC’s Jim Cramer.

“Today we announced a COVID Relief Fund – seed contribution from our mgmt, the board, the company and me of 4M+ – we will match employees 4x. Foregoing salary to contribute. Also, committed to no COVID related layoffs to allay concerns of our employees, “Arora tweeted.

According to Factset, Arora had a base salary of $1 million in 2019. (Including stocks, options and other compensation, Arora earned more than $125 million in fiscal year 2018, according to Palo Alto Networks’ latest executive pay disclosures, making him one of Silicon Valley’s highest-paid public company CEOs.)

The company and the company’s board would contribute a total of $4 million to a fund to support wage earners, such as cafeteria and security staff, and has asked employees to donate up to $1 million to the pot.

“We’re hoping to have $5 million-plus raised very quickly, and the intent is to help our employees in need, first and foremost, to help our hourly wage workers and, three, support the community that we’re all in,” Arora told Jim Cramer. “We’ve basically chosen to balance employees and people over profit in the short-term time frame because people are very concerned about what’s going on around them.”

“We plan to support our employees in need, our hourly wage workers and our community. In these times, the health, safety and peace of our workforce is most important. Balancing people vs profit.” Arora said in a tweet.

Santa Clara-based Palo Alto Networks is just the latest large company to commit itself to not laying off staff in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Palo Alto employs more than 7,000 people, which includes offices in California, Tel Aviv and India. It is not clear how many CloudGenix employs.

“They’re a part of the family,” Arora said.

Palo Alto shares have plummeted with the broader economy during the coronavirus pandemic. The stock closed Tuesday’s session at $163.96, down more than 29% from the start of the quarter and more than 32% the past year.
“Our customers and partners expect us to provide them with great products, support and services regardless of the conditions or environment. Our business continuity plans have allowed us to continue with our operations and remain available to them. These plans are consistent with industry best practices and include workarounds for possible disruptions to our people, facilities, applications, dependencies, and vendors, and are based on an all-hazards and multi-scenario approach.” A statement released by the company website said.

With more people working remotely and students studying from home, hackers have become active in attempting to take advantage of people’s heightened sensibility to the coronavirus. Home networks are usually less secure than enterprise ones, and coronavirus-related online scams have ticked up, Arora said.
To cope up with the issue, the company announced its strategy. “Supporting customers to enable their own secure remote workforce, we are fully leveraging Prisma Access to securely connect all employees to the applications they need, both in the cloud and in our data centers or offices. The majority of apps and infrastructure we use are SaaS or hosted in public cloud infrastructures like GCP, AWS, and Azure providing resiliency and scalability as needed.

We have transitioned our internal Security Operations Center to a remote model in which all our analysts are working from home—the SOC is fully operational and continues to monitor for threats as our own user population shifts to remote work via Prisma Access.” The statement said.
Arora said in the interview he expects that will translate to more business for Palo Alto as school districts, universities and businesses alike look to beef up their remote access applications. Recent execution misses in the company could also be a thing of the past.

“I think the execution is back … and I’m hoping this will translate into a good outcome for the company in the future from an economic” standpoint, he said.

Who is Nikesh Arora?

According to the profile by The Famous People, Nikesh Arora is the former President and Chief Operating Officer of SoftBank Corp; he was with SoftBank Corp from October 2014 until June 2016. Prior to joining SoftBank, he was a top executive at Google where he held multiple senior operating leadership roles. At one point in his career, he was Google’s highest paid executive—he received a compensation package of $57.1 million in 2013. While working with SoftBank, he earned a salary of $208 million over a period of two years which made him one of the highest-paid executives in the world.

Born in India, he earned a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology (BHU) Varanasi and worked for a while with Wipro. He then proceeded to the United States to pursue a degree in management from Northeastern University. He began his career working with Fidelity Investments as an analyst and simultaneously worked towards his CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) designation. During the 2000s he joined Google, a relatively small company at that time. At Google he held multiple senior operating leadership roles, eventually reaching the position of Senior Vice President and Chief Business Officer. He quit Google in 2014 to join SoftBank as President and Chief Operating Officer. His abrupt resignation from SoftBank in June 2016 came as a shock to many in the business fraternity.