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Juukan Gorge scandal: Who is Rio Tinto’s new CEO?

Jessica Yun
·3-min read
(Source: AAP)
(Source: AAP)

Global mining giant Rio Tinto has found a new CEO, three months after the company’s previous chief resigned amid the public backlash to the Juukan Gorge scandal.

Jean-Sebastien Jacques stepped down in September, resigning “by mutual agreement” after Rio Tinto came under immense pressure for destroying the ancient sacred Aboriginal heritage site in Western Australia’s Pilbara region, which an independent parliamentary inquiry found “inexcusable”.

The mining company was found to have deliberately destroyed the 46,000-year-old cave to expand an iron ore mine, and three executives were ultimately sacked following the backlash.

Replacing Jacques is Jakob Stausholm, who will step into the role on 1 January.

Who is Jakob Stausholm?

Stausholm hails from Denmark, and has been working at Rio Tinto as an executive director and chief financial officer for nearly three years.

Before starting at Rio, he spent six years at A.P. Moller - Maersk, a container logistics company headquartered in Copenhagen.

He started as a chief financial officer in 2012 and eventually incorporated chief strategy and transformation officer into the role.

Chief financial officer is a position he’s very comfortable in, with more than two decades’ experience in this role, starting from his CFO position in Shell’s Denmark office back in 1997.

Since then, he’s worked around the world, having held executive positions across Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific. He also has board experience at IBM and oil and gas producer Statoil.

Before his corporate career, Stausholm had an Ivy League education: after his Master’s degree in economics at Københavns Universitet in 1993, he undertook various courses across 2006 and 2012 at IMD Business School, which specialises in corporate leadership and management courses for business executives.

Not only did he undertake courses at IMD Business School, but he taught one too: in 2010, he led the ‘Orchestrating a winning performance’ course.

He also took part in a leadership program at Harvard Business School in 2014 and did a design thinking workshop at Stanford University Graduate School of Business the following year.

‘Need to restore trust’

Rio Tinto chairman Simon Thompson has praised Stausholm for his “ability to build effective relationships” and his commitment to “promoting sustainable development”.

Stausholm himself steps into the role with full awareness of why he is there.

“Rio Tinto’s purpose is to produce the materials essential to human progress and I remain deeply committed to this after the difficult times we have faced during 2020,” he said in a statement.

“I am also acutely aware of the need to restore trust with Traditional Owners and our other stakeholders, which I view as a key priority for the company,” he added.

The new job also comes with a pay rise: his base salary is £1,150,000, or around $2,048,708.

Not only that, his annual bonus is worth the same as his base salary and very good performance could see him earn 200 per cent of his salary.

There’s also the long-term incentive plan (up to 400 per cent of his base); the company pension contribution (14 per cent); and a requirement to hold minimum shares of 400 per cent of his base salary.

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