Sixth Fortescue executive quits in less than a year

Julie Shuttleworth. (Image courtesy of Fortescue.)

Fortescue’s (ASX: FMG) global growth director, Julie Shuttleworth, has become the sixth senior executive to leave the company in less than a year, after spending more than a decade at the Australian iron ore-to-hydrogen firm.

Shuttleworth was considered a highly trusted member of chief executive and founder Andrew Forrest’s team. She initially served as the CEO of the green energy division, when it was first established as Fortescue Future Industries. 

In more recent times, she was deputy CEO at Fortescue, a position created to ensure the company had strong mining expertise at the highest levels, when Elizabeth Gaines took on the role of top boss. 

Shuttleworth, who also oversaw mining operations in Africa, is said to have left Fortescue to spend more time with her family.

“I have really loved my 11 years with Fortescue and the experiences that I’ve had during this time,” she told the Australian Financial Review. “From sitting with the excavator and dump truck operators at Cloudbreak, to travelling the globe with the chairman [Forrest] meeting presidents and prime ministers, to working in the jungle in Gabon and everything in between.”

Shuttleworth’s resignation follows Michael Gunner’s, senior executive in the energy arm, in February. Gunner quit just days after Deborah Caudle, the chief financial officer of the same business.

The rapid succession of executives became clear in August last year, when Fortescue’s CEO at the time, Fiona Hick, quit after less than six months at the post. Her exit was followed by a series of others, including former chief financial officer of the metals division, Christine Morris, who lasted less than three months at the role.

The departure of senior members from Forrest’s team has raised concerns among certain investors regarding the billionaire’s leadership style and the extent of his aspirations to transition from an iron ore miner into a supplier of clean fuel.