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Last year was difficult for all companies, but particularly those in the energy sector. At one point in 2020, oil prices seemed to defy logic by dipping into negative territory, leading to dramatic declines in revenue and earnings at many of Houston’s top companies.

Despite this, leaders of energy companies again dominate the list of Houston’s highest-paid corporate executives in 2020. Out of the Top 10, six were in the energy industry or providers of service to it.

One thing to keep in mind, noted Wes Hart, managing director in the Houston office of Pearl Meyer, an executive compensation consultancy, is that "disclosed statistics like these may differ significantly from an executive's actual pay." This is because much of these executives’ compensation comes in the form of stock grants, which fluctuate in value between when they are announced and issued.

Another challenge that all businesses face right now is hiring and retaining talent. This isn’t only the case at the lower end of the pay scale—hiring servers at restaurants and retail employees, for instance—it’s also impacting executive-level positions.

“We’re seeing that there is really a lack of available talent,” said Hart. “There's always a push and pull in terms of talent coming and going, but it's gotten worse with the pandemic. When crises arise and bad things happen, you've got to have good people to weather the storm.”

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