Ever since Elizabeth Gaines took on the CEO role at Australian iron-ore producer Fortescue Metals, in 2018, the company has been on an upward trajectory.
In her first financial year in charge, the company’s revenues jumped 45% and profits grew by 263% to a record $3.2 billion.
While a part of this growth could be attributed to spikes in global iron-ore prices, it shouldn’t take away from Gaines' contributions.
She has been busy innovating at the operational level. Among a number of important new initiatives has been the scaling up of Fortescue’s autonomous-truck fleet, which the company said has delivered a 30% improvement in productivity.
Gaines is also behind Fortescue’s ambition to become a major hydrogen energy exporter. This year, the company entered a consortium with industry giants Anglo American, BHP, and Hatch to accelerate the production of renewable hydrogen, by removing obstacles to its adoption in the resources and heavy industry sectors.
Meanwhile, in April, Fortescue announced it had entered a partnership to build and operate hydrogen refuelling facilities for vehicles in Western Australia, with Gaines advocating again for hydrogen’s potential as part of the future energy mix.
“As the world moves toward a lower-carbon future, hydrogen has the potential to play a key role in the future energy mix and we want to ensure we remain at the forefront of Australia’s renewable hydrogen industry,” Gaines tells Business Insider. "We know that Japan, South Korea and China will be key markets for green hydrogen in the coming decade and by building on our existing supply chain capabilities and market access, we see an opportunity for Fortescue to participate and be at the forefront of developing an Australian export market for hydrogen."