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Wharton Grad Becomes Highest Paid MBA Exec

Wharton MBA & Google CEO Sundar Pichai

Wharton MBA & Google CEO Sundar Pichai

Sundar Pichai, who earned his MBA from Wharton a dozen years ago, has became one of the the highest paid executives at a public company ever, earning some $100.5 million in his first year as chief executive of the new Google.

The huge payday for the relatively new Google CEO Pichai, who graduated in the top 5% of his Wharton MBA class in 2004, came as a result of a massive $99.8 million restricted stock award that won’t fully vest until 2017. He is paid a rather modest annual salary of $652,500 and also received other compensation of some $22,935 in 2015, according to the company.

While other public executives have made during a career in the job, few public CEOs have been credited with earning more than $100 in a single year.


The Indian-born Pichai is the quintessential rags-to-riches story. He grew up in a family in urban India that did not own a television or car for most of his childhood. But the young Pichai showed a penchant for academics, earning a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur and then a masters of science from Stanford University, where he studied materials science and semiconductor physics.

After working as an engineer in Silicon Valley, Pichai was accepted into Wharton MBA program in 2002, graduating two years later as a Siebel scholar, a distinction given to the top 5% of Wharton’s graduates. students in prestigious graduate programs.

As a Wharton grad, he was the exact opposite of perhaps the most famous graduate of the school these days: Donald Trump, who earned his undergraduate degree in finance from the school. “I just remember him being a super nice, personable guy. He was very friendly, very down-to-earth and obviously just an incredibly smart guy,” Duncan Young, who also graduated from Wharton in 2002 as a Siebel scholar, told the campus newspaper.


Another classmate, Amit Sinha described Pichai as “soft-spoken, reflective, thoughtful [and] down-to-earth” to The Daily Pennsylvanian. “He would listen carefully to what you would say. He never had any air about him, and he was very friendly to most people.”

After a brief stint at McKinsey & Company, Pichai joined Google as a product manager, leading the company’s teams on the Chrome browser and operating system. He raced through promotions to vice president and then senior vice president and headed key sections of the company including Gmail, Google Docs and Android.

Last August, when Google underwent a massive corporate restructuring, Pichai emerged as CEO of the downsized Google when the company’s previous CEO Larry Page took charge of running the parent company Alphabet with co-founder Sergey Brin.

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.