1. Matt Maddox
CFO & Treasurer
Wynn Resorts (WYNN)
2008 Total compensation*: $17.66 million
The house may always win, but Wynn Resorts' CFO is on a streak: Since joining the company in 2002 to head financial operations at the Wynn Resort in Macau, Maddox rose quickly up the corporate ladder and last year was promoted to CFO of the company.
Now he oversees the entire cash flow of Steve Wynn's casino and hotel empire. And he's become a high roller pay-wise too: With a base salary of $593,590, stock options worth more than $11 million, and stock awards worth more than $5 million, Maddox tops our list of highest-paid public company executives under age 40.2. James R. Murdoch
Chairman and CEO, Europe and Asia
News Corp. (NWSA)
2008 Total compensation*: $10.15 million
The second son of media titan Rupert Murdoch -- older brother Lachlan left his job at News Corp. in 2005 but still sits on the board -- James is the heir apparent to his father's $33 billion empire (and No. 3 on our 40 Under 40 list).
As the head of the company's publishing, television, and digital interests in Europe and Asia, he oversees News International (publisher of The Times and The Sun in London), SKY Italia, and Star TV, and serves as the non-executive chairman of British SKY Broadcasting.3. George L. "Mike" Mikan III
CFO & EVP
UnitedHealth Group (UNH)
2008 Total compensation*: $6.73 million
Since joining the health insurance giant in 1998, Mikan rose through the ranks to oversee the financials of its UnitedHealthcare and UnitedHealth Networks divisions, then was named CFO of the entire company in 2006 following the departure of former CEO William McGuire, who left the company amid a stock options scandal.
Mikan's healthy 2008 compensation includes a base salary of nearly $700,000, options grants of $2.7 million, and non-equity incentive pay of $1.75 million (talk about a public option). Mikan also sits on the board of Best Buy.4. W. Robert Berkeley, Jr.
EVP & Vice Chairman, Berkley International
W.R. Berkeley (WRB)
2008 Total compensation*: $6.63 million
It's all in the family for Robert Berkley, vice chairman of the $4.7 billion global underwriter of property and casualty insurance, and son of CEO and founder William R. Berkley.
Robert earned $3,868,500 worth of stock awards last year, as well as $1.8 million in non-equity incentive pay. Berkley shareholders did well too: The company, number 490 on the Fortune 500, was a top-performing stock last year with 4.9 percent in total shareholder return, thanks to volatile stock and debt markets.5. Jonathan Z. Cohen
Vice chairman, Atlas Energy Resources, Atlas Energy Management
Atlas Energy** (ATLS)
2008 Total compensation*: $4.29 million
Another family affair: With its holding company made up of various components -- Atlas Energy Resources, Atlas Pipeline Partners, and Atlas Pipeline Holdings -- the Pennsylvania-based Cohen family has made a profitable business with tax-advantaged investments in the oil and gas industry.
Jonathan Cohen, the son of CEO Edward E. Cohen, earned a hefty $4 million-plus at Atlas last year. That doesn't include his other jobs as CEO of his father's Resource Capital Corp., a separate commercial real estate investment trust based in New York and Philadelphia that trades on the NYSE, as well as hedge fund Castine Partners.6. Wayne S. Deveydt
CFO & EVP
2008 Total compensation*: $4.13 million
He could only compare favorably to his predecessor: Deveydt, who joined WellPoint in 2005, stepped in June 2007 to replace David Colby, WellPoint's disgraced CFO who left the company after lawsuits from former paramours alleged he romanced multiple women and made false promises of money and marriage.
Deveydt had timing on his side, too, stepping in during a period of record earnings at the insurer. Last year he collected a base salary of $648,769, with option and stock awards worth more than $3 million.7. Christa Davies
CFO & EVP, Global Finance
2008 Total compensation*: $3.84 million
Davies is the highest-paid executive woman on our list; no wonder she's also among our "Ones to Watch."
Before joining insurance brokerage Aon in 2007 as head of global finance, Davies spent more than a decade at Microsoft, where she most recently oversaw financials of its most profitable sector, the platform and services division.
Those jobs are a world away from her college major: Davies studied aerospace engineering at the University of Queensland.8. Keith A. Meister
Principal Executive Officer & Vice Chairman
Icahn Enterprises (IEP)
2008 Total compensation*: $3.00 million
It can't be easy working for takeover king and activist investor Carl Icahn, so it's not surprising the pay's good.
At Icahn's holding company of diversified interests, Meister oversees gaming and real estate holdings. He's also a senior investment analyst at Icahn's High River Limited Partnership and is a director of the Icahn Fund. Prior to working for the billionaire, Meister co-founded an IT and software venture capital fund and worked in investment banking at Lazard Freres.9. Javier Rodriguez
Senior Vice President
2008 Total compensation*: $2.64 million
Another young moneymaker in the healthcare field, Rodriguez is a top executive at DaVita, an El Segundo, Calif.-based operator of kidney dialysis centers and related health services with $5.6 billion in sales. Rodriguez handles the company's relationships with insurance companies and is responsible for the operation of 300 dialysis clinics.
Prior to joining DaVita in 1998, he worked for Baxter Healthcare Corp. and was director of operations for CBS Marketing in Mexico City. Rodriguez studied finance and marketing at Boston College, then earned an MBA from Harvard. 10. Paul S. Amos II
President, AFLAC; COO, AFLAC U.S. Operations
2008 Total compensation*: $2.41 million
As the grandson of one of AFLAC's founders and son of its current CEO, Amos helped the insurance giant best known for its quacking duck mascot reach sales of $16.6 billion last year.
He's responsible for masterminding AFLAC's recent acquisition of Continental American Insurance Co. for $100 million -- the first time in 54 years AFLAC has bought another insurance company. 11. Charles F. Kessler
EVP Female Merchandising
Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF)
2008 Total compensation*: $2.32 million
The trendy teen retailer known for blasting club music in its dimly lit stores has lost some of its sizzle: it recorded a second quarter net loss of $27 million, compared to a profit of $78 million over the same period a year earlier. The business hopes to catch up by lowering prices and expanding internationally.
Kessler, who goes by Chad, started out at vice president of merchandising at Hollister, A&F's surf clothing brand, before moving to the parent company. 12. Zane C. Rowe
CFO & EVP
Continental Airlines (CAL)
2008 Total compensation*: $2.13 million
Rowe's career has long been lofty: Before joining Continental in 1993, he taught economics at an aeronautical university. In May 2008, Rowe replaced CFO Jeff Misner when he retired.
To combat the recession, he's focused on controlling business costs and initiating revenue-generating measures -- blame him and other execs for that hike in baggage fees at check-in -- which Continental hopes will help bring in around $100 million annually. 13. Brent K. Whittington
COO & EVP
2008 Total compensation*: $2.05 million
The University of Arkansas at Little Rock grad started out at Arthur Andersen, then joined Alltel in 2002, working his way up to SVP of operations, before joining Windstream, a Little Rock-based phone, Internet and TV provider in 2005.
As one of the company's top executives, he helped orchestrate the imminent acquisitions of D&E Communications for $330 million and Lexcom Inc. for $141 million. 14. Christine M. Beauchamp
AnnTaylor Stores (ANN)
2008 Total compensation*: $1.83 million
Beauchamp has her work cut out for her: She joined Ann Taylor a little over a year ago to reinvigorate the troubled retailer's $689 million Ann Taylor Stores division. Whether she'll succeed remains to be seen, but her pay is great incentive: a base salary of $378,000, options worth $531,000 and stock awards of $650,000.
Beauchamp joined the company from Limited Brands, where she was President and CEO of Victoria's Secret Beauty. 15. Jason Garner
CEO, Global Music
Live Nation (LYV)
2008 Total compensation*: $1.57 million
Music was in Garner's blood: He started promoting concerts in high school, booking bands at a flea market in largely Hispanic San Jose. Along the way, the Metallica fan became well-known as Northern California's leading promoter of Spanish language music.
In 2003 he joined Live Nation as the lead booker for its Latin division, Vivelo, and now oversees the company's worldwide concert promotions and serves as second-in-command to CEO Michael Rapino. In the dicey economy, he's tried tactics like offering $20 lawn tickets and waiving $10 service fees on Wednesdays to woo fans. 16. Todd M. Fruchterman
Sr. VP Research & Development and CTO
Kinetic Concepts (KCI)
2008 Total compensation*: $1.56 million
Fruchterman knows scientists like to be by themselves. But in 2005 when he joined Kinetic, a medical device maker that specializes in wound treatments, he wanted researchers to be in contact with patients and doctors to improve product development.
The new philosophy, along with a boosted R&D budget of more than $100 million, looks to be working; last year Kinetic pulled in revenues of $1.9 billion, up 19% from 2007. 17. Holli C. Nichols
CFO & EVP
2008 Total compensation*: $1.52 million
The downturn in the economy has hit independent power generator Dynegy hard. To help boost the liquidity of the Houston-based company, Nichols, a PricewaterhouseCoopers veteran who joined the company in 2000, helped broker a $1.5 billion cash and stock deal to sell nine power plants to LS Power in August.
Analysts say the move may have saved the company, which posted a $345 million loss during its second quarter, from bankruptcy potential. 18. Theresa E. Wagler
CFO & EVP
Steel Dynamics (STLD)
2008 Total compensation*: $1.47 million
Wagler started as an auditor for Ernest & Young before joining Fort Wayne, Ind.-based Steel Dynamics in 1998. Earlier this year, she was named EVP and is focused on trying to quell losses at the third-largest U.S.-based steel maker by strict cost compression.
The strategy may be working; Steel Dynamics reported earnings of $69 million during the third quarter, after three straight losses. 19. Naresh Kumra
EVP, Operations and President, Asia-Pacific
2008 Total compensation*: $1.45 million
Belden is one of the largest U.S. manufacturers of high-speed electronic cables and products for data networking markets. Kumra oversees Belden's Asia division and headed up the integration of LTK Wiring, a Hong-Kong based company that Belden acquired for $195 million in March 2007.
Prior to joining Belden in 2006, Kumra was an associate principal at McKinsey & Co. 20. Jonathan W. Thayer
Sr. VP and CFO
Constellation Energy (CEG)
2008 Total compensation*: $1.43 million
Thayer worked at Deutsche Bank Securities and SBC Warburg Dillon Read in M&A before joining Constellation, a power and gas utility based in Baltimore with sales of $19.8 billion.
With the recession, Thayer is trying to improve liquidity, which he's already done by repaying a $500 million, 6% fixed-rate bond this fall.
Before joining Deutsche Bank, Thayer worked as operations manager for an AIDS prevention nonprofit in Uganda.