The latest CEO pay survey of the Australian Financial Review reveals that Macquarie Group’s CEO Shemara Wikramanayake has become the first-ever highest-paid female CEO of the country. An estimated earning of over 18 Million AUD in the previous financial year makes Wikramanayake the highest-paid woman CEO. The list comprises of only four women CEOs out of 50 highest-paid CEOs in Australia and accounts of only five CEOs over the 10 Mn AUD mark.

Not only is Wikramanayake the highest-paid CEO, but she is also the only woman CEO among Australia’s 20 biggest companies by market value. She guided the company through an 11% rise in half-year profit to 1.46 billion AUD. She was appointed in the position earlier taken by Nicholas Moore as Macquarie Bank CEO on December 1, 2018 when the bank got its first female CEO. Prior to that, she was the group head of Macquarie Asset Management.

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Her career started in 1987 at an investment bank known today as the ‘millionaires’ factory’. She worked her way up to head the Asset Management position at Macquarie Bank in 2008 and a decade later she is the CEO. Through her career, she has worked out of nine cities across six continents. During this time, she helped build the bank’s corporate advisory offices in New Zealand, Hong Kong and Malaysia.

Fortune named her one of the most powerful women international in 2018. It said about Wikramanayake, “This year, the Australian executive turned her eye to climate change, becoming one of only three global CEOs to be named a commissioner of the World Bank’s Global Commission on Adaptation. Leveraging Macquarie’s roughly $82 billion infrastructure funds, Wikramanayake is pushing for more investment in environmentally-friendly and resilient development.”

She is the only female CEO among Australia’s 20 biggest companies by market value and the first Asian-Australian woman to head an Australian Security Exchange (ASX) 200 listed company.

The other three women in the list include Coca-Cola Amatil CEO Alison Watkins ($4.1 million), Mirvac Group CEO Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz ($4.8 million), and Fortescue Metals CEO Elizabeth Gaines ($5 million).

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Gaines, an Australian businesswoman who serves as CEO of the iron ore company, is named as the best-performing CEO, as per shareholder returns over the past financial year. She replaced Nev Power and became the company’s first woman CEO in February 2018. Before becoming in CEO, she served as the chief financial officer in the company. In 2017, the company’s chairman, Andrew Forrest, announced that he would be appointing women to the roles of CEO and deputy chief executive.

An estimated earning of over 18 Million AUD in the previous financial year makes Wikramanayake the highest-paid CEO.

Gaines is the company’s first female non-executive director when she was the CFO in 2017 and then took over as the company’s first female CEO in 2018.

After Wikramanayake come, Gregory Goodman, CEO of property company Goodman ($12.8 million), biotech company CSL’s CEO Paul Perreault ($11.7 million), Treasury Wine Estate CEO Michael Clarke ($11.4 million) and BHP CEO Andrew Mackenzie ($10.5 million) in the top five of the list.

Picture credit: The Hawthorn Club

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