Elizabeth Gaines

Claire Martin for Fortune
  • Title
  • Company
    Fortescue Metals Group
  • Country

The pandemic year hasn’t weighed down Fortescue Metals Group. The Australian mining firm reported record earnings for its fiscal year ending June 2020, with $12.8 billion in revenue. That performance, as well as the 108% increase in the company’s share price in the past 12 months, has been driven by strong iron ore prices and enormous demand from China. Fortescue is a core supplier of iron ore to China’s steel industry, which is producing at record levels despite a disruption owing to the coronavirus earlier this year. (Reduced iron ore production in South America has also helped.) Worsening diplomatic relations between Australia and China have so far not hurt the company, whose second-largest shareholder is one of China’s state-owned steel companies.

Gaines, who worked in other industries before taking the top job at Fortescue in 2018, credits her compassionate leadership style for successfully navigating COVID-19 operating challenges. Since the outbreak began, the company has sent more than 1 million text messages, offering words of support or information on COVID management measures, to employees and stakeholders. She’s also spoken out against sexism in the industry and advocated for increasing the representation of women in the sector and corporate Australia more broadly.

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