Fortescue Metals Group Ltd CEO Nev Power – who has overseen the quadrupling of iron production in his tenure as CEO since July 2011 – received a standing ovation at the company’s annual meeting last week.
Now producing more than 170 million tonnes per annum, Power has been credited with driving the company’s productivity and efficiency to become one of the lowest cost supplier of seaborne iron ore to China.
Rising from the ranks, Power started out as an apprentice at Mount Isa Mines in the early 1970s to become one of the most respected CEOs in the country, but will stand down in February.
Power will reflect on his time at Fortescue at the CCI Lighthouse Leadership series on November 16.
He went on to achieve a Bachelor of Engineering and an MBA before taking over as CEO from the company’s now Non Executive Chairman Andrew Forrest.
Forrest told shareholders at the annual meeting that Power had done an “outstanding job as the developer and operator” of Fortescue’s assets since succeeding him as CEO in July 2011.
“We are now moving into a growth phase where we’re exploring opportunities all over the world,” he said.
Funding for Forrest’s philanthropic enterprises including the Mindaroo Foundation had “only been made possible by 15 years of stable leadership, and this champion sitting next to me, Mr Nev Power,” Forrest said.
Company monitor for the Australian Shareholders’ Association Geoff Sherwin also praised Power’s leadership during his tenure.
Referring to Fortescue’s debt crisis of three-to-four years ago when iron ore prices plummeted, Sherwin said it was “great to see leadership emerge in that situation”.
“In a crisis, real leadership comes to the fore,” he said, in congratulating Power for his role in steering Fortescue out of the perilous situation, while overseeing a sustained recovery in profits and shareholder returns.
Reflecting on his rise from apprentice to CEO, Power said he’d never thought of his career in that context.
“I’ve always just thought about what the challenges and opportunities are and tried to make the very vest of every one of them, not really in terms of a career plan,” he told The Guide.
“I’m absolutely delighted to have been at Fortescue, it has been a fantastic experience and that’s because of the people here. There is no question that’s what makes Fortescue great and it’s been an absolute privilege and honour to be part of the Fortescue family.”