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"How I Became the Highest-Compensated Woman Executive in Silicon Valley"


Lata Krishnan became the highest-compensated woman executive among the largest publicly traded companies in Silicon Valley in 1998. She is the chief financial officer of Shah Capital Partners, a U.S.-based private-equity fund. But her road to success is marked by many twists and turns and a desire to explore the U.S.

From India to London to the U.S.

Krishan was born in the southern Indian state of Kerala and holds a master’s degree from the London School of Economics. After earning her degree in economics, she worked for five years as an accountant with the London-based firms of Arthur Anderson and Hill Vellacott. It wasn't until she met and married Ajay Shah, an engineer, that the two saw potential in memory modules and decided to start their own company, SMART, an acronym for Surface Mount and Reflow Technology, in 1989. The California-based company was ranked by Fortune magazine as one of the 50 fastest growing technology companies in Silicon Valley.

The rest is not history

While Krishan is chief financial officer of Shah Capital Partners, and her husband is chairman of the board of SMART, Krishan felt the need to help others. She set up a non-profit organization in 2001 to help others who suffered losses in a catastrophic earthquake that struck the western coast of India. The non-profit, The American India Foundation, works to help marginalized communities. Krishan believes that private sector companies like hers have an obligation to "enhance the pace of change in the social sector by leaps and bounds."

Krishan's advice to other women

Krishan wants other young women to be bold and take chances in their careers. Make your own definition of success and "stay true to your convictions. Women have to work harder to maintain a work-life balance by managing fulltime careers, as well as play an important role at home. I believe we can have our cake and eat it too."

Read more about Lata Krishnan at