Former Executive Chairman, Occidental Petroleum Corporation
Born in Lebanon, Ray Irani came to the U.S. as a scientific wunderkind, graduating from USC with a Ph.D. in physical chemistry at the age of 22. He spent a decade at Monsanto, where he earned 150 patents for pesticides, food additives and cleaning compounds. He has been with Occidental since 1983 and is currently riding the profitable wave of record-high oil prices combined with a successful strategy of purchasing castoff Texas fields from Shell and BP and using new technologies to boost production by 40%. Irani maintains close ties to his home country and his USC alma mater, to which he has donated millions. He had been under fire from investors over his compensation in 2009, which earned him a spot on the list of highest-paid CEOs. In May 2011 Irani relinquished his CEO title to President and COO Stephen I. Chazen. He will remain executive chairman until the end of 2014.
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