Two women to lead Australian iron ore mining company

As soon as the new year kicks off, Fortescue Metals Group (ASX:FMG) will be led by two women.

Elizabeth Gaines, who took over as the company's CFO in February after being a non-executive director since 2013, has been appointed new Chief Executive Officer. Her right hand will be Julie Shuttleworth, who moves from being general manager of Fortescue’s Solomon operations to the position of deputy CEO.

According to Fortescue's chairman, billionaire Andrew Forrest, both Gaines and Shuttleworth will lead an organisation "where every person seeks advice from their immediate principal as opposed to an industry accepted management method of unilateral authority."

Gaines, on the other hand, said that it is the strong relationship between the chairman and the CEO what determines Fortescue's success. “I embrace the culture and values that truly set this company apart and I look forward to working with Andrew, the board and the newly appointed leadership team of talented individuals to continue to deliver success and value for our shareholders," she said in a corporate press release.

In the same statement, Forrest said that one of the reasons behind Gaines' appointment is that the CEO-elect has shown strong aptitude to encourage her colleagues and sleet recognition to them while actively providing support so that people reach their full potential. "It is this aversion to being the smartest person in the room, her obvious and effective collegiality and ability to communicate at all levels of both the organisation and the community that led to the Board’s decision to select Elizabeth over an outstanding international field of CEO applicants," he said.

Gaines, who will succeed outgoing CEO Nev Power, is the former CEO of HelloWorld. Prior to that, she was chief operating officer and CFO of HelloWorld, CFO of Stella Group, chief finance and operations director of Entertainment Rights in the United Kingdom and CEO of Heytesbury.

Besides Gaines and Shuttleworth, Fortescue has made several changes to its leadership team, with Ian Wells taking over as CFO and former operations director Greg Lilleyman being appointed as chief operating officer.