Forget CEO comp: Business and political honchos can pull down seven figures attending a few meetings. The Daily Beast ranks those who make the most as serial corporate-board directors.
Physicist Shirley Jackson made a name for herself as the pioneering chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and then garnished more fame—and criticism—as the extremely well-paid president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
But in terms of how Jackson makes her money, even her $1 million-plus day job is surpassed by her side gig: corporate board hound. She sits on six Fortune 500 boards, pocketing more than $4 million over the last three fiscal years. Similarly, Cathie Black, recently nominated as the New York City schools chancellor, just announced that she was resigning from the boards of IBM and Coca-Cola—side gigs that yielded her a $500,000 last year.
So just how lucrative—and widespread—is the business of attending meetings and dispelling wisdom? The Daily Beast sought to figure out who are the top earners among America's serial corporate board members. Our final list counts non-executive directors who are members of at least three public Fortune 500 boards. They were ranked based on total compensation for the last three fiscal years.
Given that director compensation is most closely related to the size of a company, rather than the industry, according to The Conference Board, the Fortune 500 Index is a logical initial screening for top director compensation. And by requiring three board memberships, we're focusing on those who make a good living as a professional board member versus, say, Scott McNealy, who pocketed more than $6 million—including $2.9 million in stock option awards—sitting on the board of the company he co-founded, Sun Microsystems.
Compensation for companies not on the Fortune 500 was not included in the total compensation calculations (though if a company ranked among the Fortune 500 for any of the the last three years, compensation for all years in which a director served on the board was included).
So who have mastered the corporate board game? Click here.