When a typical rank-and-file employee loses his or her job, the most they could hope for is several months’ worth of salary and extended benefits — and that’s only in case they were laid off. Get fired, and you can hope to be given the opportunity to collect your family photos and lunchbox from your office space, at best.
But when it comes to those occupying the top-floor corner offices — companies’ highest-level executives — leaving a job, voluntarily or not, is often a lucrative career move in itself.
In the past few weeks alone, two high-profile executives — Hewlett Packard‘s (HPQ) former CEO Mark Hurd and British Petroleum‘s (BP) Tony Hayward — have made loud exits from their power positions. Both Hurd, who resigned abruptly following accusations of having an inappropriate personal relationship with a company contractor and Hayward, who was at the helm of BP at the time of the Gulf oil spill, are slated to receive exit packages worth millions of dollars. But they are not alone — nor are their payouts (commonly referred to as “golden parachutes”) particularly large when you compare them to what some other top executives have received in recent past. In this infographic, we take a look at some of the largest and most controversial exit packages of the past decade.