Growing up in Massachusetts as an Israeli-American child, Safra Catz aspired to work at an ice cream parlor.
“My dream job was to work in an ice cream shop,” Catz told Time in a 2010 interview. “Two weeks and five pounds later, I realized it wasn’t for me. For many years I had planned to be a corporate lawyer. As luck would have it, other than a summer internship, I didn’t end up doing that, either.”
As luck would have it, with some grit and perseverance mixed in, Catz went on to shape the present and future of the computer world as president and then CEO of Oracle, one of the world’s largest software companies.
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Catz, 60, graduated from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1983 before earning a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1986.
She joined the Oracle Corporation in 1999 and quickly rose through the ranks, joining the board of directors in 2001. She became president in 2004, CFO in 2005, co-CEO in 2011 and sole CEO in 2019 after fellow chief executive Mark Hurd died.
Taking Oracle to new heights in cloud computing
During Catz’s tenure, Oracle has overtaken several rival companies and become a significant force in cloud-based computing. Since 2008, Catz has also served on the board of HSBC Group, one of the largest banking institutions in the world. Regularly ranked by Forbes and Fortune magazines as one of the most powerful women in business, she was named the highest-paid female in a Fortune 1000 company in 2011 by Fortune.
Catz was born in Holon to a physicist father and a Holocaust survivor mother from Romania. At age six, Catz moved with her parents to Massachusetts, but she remains connected to her birthplace both in and out of the boardroom. Oracle opened facilities in Israel in 1996 and currently employs some 400 in the Jewish state. Since 1997, she’s been married to former Israeli soccer coach Gal Tirosh. The couple has two sons, Gary and Scott.
“Larry (Ellison) and I are deeply committed to Israel,” Catz has said. “We built an amazing, highly secured data center for Oracle Cloud in Israel because we love Israel and we know the country needs it.”