On a day of dramatic senior leadership changes at Fortescue Metals Group, former CSIRO chief executive Larry Marshall has been appointed to the company’s board of directors.
Fortescue Metals also announced the apparently amicable departure of its chief executive officer Fiona Hick, and the expedited appointment of Dino Otranto to replace her.
The company said that Dr Marshall, as a non-executive director of Fortescue Metals, would help to guide its overall technology direction, particularly in energy, metals, investment and strategy.
Fortescue is in a period of particular growth, building an increased emphasis on new technology and energy as an addition to its Metals business.
“In my 26 years in the US, I evolved from scientist, to inventor, to entrepreneur, to CEO, to Silicon Valley venture capitalist,” Dr Marshall said.
“Fortescue is at the absolute forefront of technology development in the mining and green energy sectors.
“I was drawn to Fortescue because I want to help it implement its world-leading decarbonisation plan and eliminate fossil fuels while delivering returns for its shareholders.”
Dr Marshall was chief executive at the CSIRO from 2015 to June 2023, making him the science agency’s longest serving CEO in the past 50 years.
Prior to joining the CSIRO, he had co-founded and led a number of biotech and venture capital companies and has served on the boards of a variety of tech companies in the US, Australia and China.
Dr Marshall is currently the chair of the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) and is on the board of the Governing Council of the Australian National University.
He is also an adviser on the federal Circular Economy Ministerial Advisory Group, and is a member of the Science and Industry Technical Advisory Group for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.
Fortescue executive chairman Andrew Forrest said Dr Marshall’s experience founding companies to propel innovation was a key factor in the board’s decision to appoint him as a non-executive director.
“We are 100 per cent science-based in our approach to reducing emissions and phasing out fossil fuels, and Larry’s appointment is a reflection of this,” Dr Forrest said.
“Larry left the CSIRO with a lasting legacy, and I have no doubt that he will leave an equal, if not greater legacy at Fortescue as we embark on the most important period in our proud history.
“We want the very best scientific minds to join us on our mission and the benefits to Fortescue that Larry’s extraordinary experience as a scientist, inventor and business leader will bring will be immeasurable.”
The company said that outgoing chief executive Fiona Hick had made a “joint-decision” with the Fortescue board to leave the company, describing the separation as “friendly and mutual”. It said the company was very focused on developing its own internal talent.
“We are therefore pleased to announce Dino Otranto as Fortescue Metals CEO. Dino has established and run operations in many parts of the world and speaks several languages,” the company said in statement
Since joining Fortescue in 2021 as chief operating officer for iron ore, Mr Otranto has become an integral member of the team, it said.
“He has significant operational, technical and financial expertise, and a strong focus on safety leadership and employee engagement to Fortescue’s senior executive team.”
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