Daniel Starks - St. Jude Medical

2013 pay: $9.6 million
2012 pay: $6.7 million

St. Jude Medical ($STJ) CEO Daniel Starks had his work cut out for him at the beginning of 2013. Sluggish sales and mounting competition left the company fighting to protect its share of the cardiac rhythm management market, and St. Jude faced increasing backlash over its controversial defibrillator leads. A difficult regulatory climate didn't help, and a normally reticent Starks bashed the tax and current legislation for slowing down product innovation.

Starks responded with an operations overhaul, shedding jobs and cutting costs while investing in new technologies. The company purchased Switzerland's Endosense last summer for $331 million to grab a piece of a growing electrophysiology market, and laid down $123.5 million for Nanostim in October, becoming the owner of the only leadless cardiac pacemaker on the market.

St. Jude also took to the regulatory front, defending old products in the midst of innovation. In May 2013, the company touted results from an independent analysis that showed its Durata and Riata ST Optim defibrillator leads remained 99.9% safe from all-cause insulation abrasion and 99.4% safe from all-cause mechanical failure at 5 years. St. Jude pushed for FDA approval of the CardioMEMS's Champion heart failure system, acquiring the company in late May 2014.

The company's jobs cuts, M&A and consolidation plans paid off in spades. Shares rose to an all-time high of $65 in December, 7% above their value at the beginning of 2013. Sales for St. Jude's largest business, cardiac rhythm management, brought in $705 million in Q4--a 3% jump over the same period. While full year CRM sales dropped 2%, the results were still better than what analysts predicted in 2012. With higher earnings projections and a massive repurchase plan on the line for 2014, Starks could be on his way to helping the company engineer a turnaround.

Starks's 2013 compensation included a base salary of $1 million, $2.3 million in stock awards, $4.8 million in options and $1.4 million in nonequity incentives. -- Emily Wasserman (email | Twitter)

- read St. Jude Medical's proxy statement 

For more:
St. Jude Medical reports solid growth, predicts more to come
St. Jude slides in Q1 but expects a big year
St. Jude touts Durata's safety amid abrasion worries
St. Jude boosts profits as job cuts, M&A pay off
St. Jude Medical CEO knocks rival and regulatory climate, but also offers optimism

Daniel Starks - St. Jude Medical