AECOM CEO W. Troy Rudd saw a double-digit base salary increase for the firm's fiscal year 2020.

A significant pay increase came with Rudd's promotion last spring to chief executive officer.

The big design services company had a tumultuous but profitable year that involved abandoning a potential plan for a rumored merger with Canada-based WSP Global and Rudd's elevation to CEO from chief financial officer, a change in leadership that had generated opposition from an activist investor board member. 

Rudd ascended to the top position in June 2020, replacing Chairman and CEO Michael S. Burke who retired. Rudd earned a total compensation of $9.32 million in 2020, which includes a 10.7% increase to $775,000 in 2020 over his base salary of $700,000 in 2019.

The company's board provided Rudd $4.4 million in stock awards and another $3 million in options – a one-time performance stock option award granted to Rudd upon his promotion to CEO.

He also received incentive plan compensation of $1.177 million in fiscal 2020 as compared to $1.150 million in fiscal 2019Rudd’s total earnings in FY19 were $4,082 million.

The information is in the proxy statement for the firm's fiscal year ending Sept. 30. 

Burke's 2020 compensation was higher than Rudd's. He earned a total $17.448 million in 2020, and $14.910 million in 2019. 

For perspective, the median employee pay at the company was $67,000.

In April, the company's compensation committee temporarily reduced by 20% the base salaries of the CEO, board members and non-executive corporate officers, related to the pandemic, but restored them to full pay on Aug. 1 for non-executive officers, and on Oct, 3, for the CEO.

According to the proxy statement, after shedding its management services business and anticipating sale of its at-risk civil and power construction businesses, the company refined the peer group of firms for comparison of executive pay. In addition to holdovers from 2020's peer group—Fluor, EMCOR and Jacobs—the peer group now includes WSP, Stantec and Booz Allen Hamilton, the management consultant.

By most measures, AECOM performed well in 2020.

It recorded 14% adjusted EBITDA growth, $341 million of free cash flow and a 13% expansion of the project backlog, which it says is near an all-time high. Fiscal 2020 adjusted earnings per share increased to $2.15 from $1.86 and AECOM has set guidance for fiscal 2021 in the range of $2.55 to $2.75.

Overall, AECOM believes it reinforced its business strength by completing the $2.4-billion sale of its management services group to a private equity firm and closing on divestiture of the power construction and civil construction businesses early in fiscal 2021.

Rudd said in the statement he believes the organization is “stronger today because of the adversity we overcame during the 2020 fiscal year.”