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Ex-SoftBank Executive Nikesh Arora Joins Palo Alto As CEO

CEOs in India

Cybersecurity firm Palo Alto Networks has named former SoftBank Group Corp president Nikesh Arora as chief executive officer and chairman. The 50-something executive succeeds Mark McLaughlin, who has led the company for nearly seven years and has played a major role in its torrid pace of growth. Under McLaughlin, the company’s shares have jumped five-fold since its initial public offering in 2012.

“Over the course of several quarters, I have been discussing succession planning with the Board and I couldn’t be more pleased that we have found a leader in Nikesh,” said McLaughlin, who will become the vice chairman of Palo Alto board.

Arora joined Google in 2004 and held multiple senior operating leadership roles at Google till 2014 when he stepped down from the post of Senior Vice President and Chief Business Officer.  He was Google’s highest paid executive at that time. 
Thereafter, Arora joined SoftBank in September 2014 to take charge of its overseas operations. Arora has also been credited with making SoftBank more disciplined about investment exits. 

He stepped down from SoftBank in 2016 following differences between him and SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son over when he would replace Son as head of the group.

During his two years at the group, Arora had used an extensive contact book to make new investments, including in Indian online marketplace Snapdeal and ride-hailing service Ola.

Arora began his career at Fidelity Investments in 1992, holding a variety of finance and technology management positions, ultimately serving as Vice President, Finance of Fidelity Technologies.

Arora has served on the board of directors at Aviva, Airtel, Colgate-Palmolive, Richemont (Current) Sprint, to name a few, and worked as Chief Marketing Officer and as a Member of the Management Board at T-Mobile, Bharti Airtel, Europe. Since 2007, Arora has also served as a Senior Advisor to Silver Lake Partners, a private equity firm.

He graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology, BHU in Varanasi with a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and holds a degree from Boston College and an MBA from Northeastern University, as well as the CFA designation.

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