Congratulations to all the 2020 NSW Women in Mining Awards Winners and Finalists.
Outstanding Trade, Operator or Technician - Sponsored by BHP
Peita Heffernan - WINNER!
Trainer Assessor and Operator
Peita Heffernan is a Trainee Assessor and Operator at Glencore’s Bulga Coal.
Peita made a career change to the mining industry after a career in customer service. Peita’s determination to make the switch saw her make huge sacrifices.
Peita was at a career crossroads in 2008 when she saw a media story about roles in mining. While Peita had experience with small machinery through her husband's business, she found that this was not enough to secure a mining role. So Peita invested significant time and thousands of dollars to undertake training. Peita’s first break came by way of a traineeship with a mining contractor, which lead to a permanent role with that contractor, and ultimately to a permanent role at Bulga Coal.
Peita has been promoted to trainer in recognition of her ability to impart knowledge to others. Her dedication to coaching and mentoring employees has seen her further promoted to Head Trainer. A decade of persistence and exemplary work has paid off for Peita, and she now shares those experiences as she mentors new female employees.
Robyn is currently a Mineworker at Yancoal’s Moolarben Mine and is training to gain her Open Cut Examiner’s Certificate.
Robyn was working as a bus driver and raising her three girls on the Central Coast when the opportunity came to undertake a mining course in Mudgee. Robyn, who had grown up in Gulgong and seen the quality of life of mining families, jumped at the opportunity to find a better life for her family. While studying Robyn travelled back and forth for three months and drove buses on the weekend to make ends meet.
After many applications, Robyn secured a job at Moolarben. Initially starting her training as a truck operator, Robyn can now operate a dozer, drill rig, grader, water cart and multiple trucks. Robyn is the first woman at Moolarben to operate a face shovel and the only woman to operate a dozer. She recently became the first woman on site to do a step-up position and commence study for the Open Cut Examiner’s certificate.
Robyn now leads a team of 50 and is recognised as a leader and trailblazer for women at her operation.
Excellence in Diversity Programs and Performance - Sponsored by Hetherington
WIMNet NSW Mentoring Program - WINNER!
In 2015 WIMNet launched its WIMNet Mentoring Program.
While many companies offer internal mentoring, in 2015 there weren’t many opportunities for women in the NSW mining industry to seek independent guidance and support to achieve the next steps in their careers.
The WIMNet program has successfully filled this gap, matching women at different stages of their careers in the mining industry with a mentor to provide them with career guidance and advice on goal setting and enhancing business acumen.
The success of the program is evident from the feedback from mentors, mentees - 100 percent of whom would recommend the program, and the many companies that support the program through sponsorship.
Rae O’Brien, General Manager of Peabody’s Metropolitan Mine sums up the success of the program, “We have seen participants from this Program gain promotions, successfully balance work with family and take on challenges they didn’t previously have the confidence to tackle. It’s been a win/win for everyone involved”.
Embracing Flexible Work Arrangements
Wilpinjong Mine, Peabody Australia
Wilpinjong Mine was losing skilled and qualified female operators who found that it was too difficult to return to a full-time roster while caring for children. These valued operators were long term and loyal employees and a significant asset to the business.
Wilpinjong turned to their employees and worked together to come up with a solution which could meet both the employees’ needs and those of the business. The result has been to use Individual Flexibility Agreements, which allow employees to work part-time on their return to work. Six Wilpinjong employees have taken up this opportunity, five women and one man.
The agreements have been both a solution to retaining valuable employees, and also provide a pathway for other employees to see a career at Wilpinjong beyond parental leave. Significantly the program has had an unintended benefit of reducing absenteeism on weekend shifts as many part-time employees choose to work these shifts, which traditionally saw high levels of personal leave from full-time staff.
Gender Diversity Champion - Sponsored by Thiess
Kate Swain - WINNER!
Kate is a partner at McCullough Robertson Lawyers.
Kate has been a lawyer for 12 years and specialises in the energy and resources sector. During this time Kate has made a significant contribution to increasing gender diversity in the mining and mining services industry.
Kate was a co-founder of the Hunter Branch of the Women in Mining Network (WIMNet). Kate is currently chair of the Hunter WIMNet Committee and is responsible for the Committee’s program of events that seek to connect women in the industry and provide them with the network and tools to succeed.
Kate is a WIMNet Mentor, guiding and empowering a number of women in their careers. In her role at McCullough Roberston Kate has advocated for the importance of supporting gender diversity initiatives including through sponsorship.
Hetherington Exploration and Mining Services
David is the Principal of Hetherington Exploration and Mining Services.
David took up the role of Principal at Hetherington in 2016. David has been a long advocate for greater gender diversity in the workforce and took the opportunity to implement policies and programs within the organisation to help women employees both stay in work and excel.
Those initiatives include maternity and paternity leave programs, flexibility for staff with caring responsibilities, an ‘open door’ policy that encourages staff to feel free to discuss personal, health and other sensitive issues with David and other senior staff. Other smaller but important initiatives which have contributed to an inclusive culture include celebrating International Women’s Day.
In 2019 under David’s leadership, Hetherington commenced an internal mentoring program for both male and female staff.
Exceptional Young Woman - Sponsored by Evolution Mining
Leah Miller - WINNER!
Coal Handling and Preparation Plant Maintenance Delivery Superintendent
Leah Miller is currently the Coal Handling and Preparation Plant (CHPP) Maintenance Delivery Superintendent with Yancoal’s Mt Thorley Warkworth mine.
Leah’s is an amazing and unusual career story. She does not have a trade or engineering qualification, Leah started work in the coal industry as a coal analyst in the commercial area of the business. In that role, Leah worked closely with execution teams during the industry downturn to identify millions of dollars of cost savings.
This led Leah to take up roles outside the support teams and her leadership and commercial aptitude have seen her career accelerate in the last two years to the position of CHPP Maintenance Delivery Superintendent. She is responsible for leading a large team while managing maintenance priorities.
Leah is committed to a more gender-diverse workforce and is an active WIMNet member, participates in the Hunter Valley Operations Inclusion and Diversity Committee, as well as mentoring colleagues to pursue careers outside their traditional fields.
Human Resources Lead
Katie Grant is the Human Resources Lead at South32’s Illawarra Metallurgical Coal (IMC).
Katie commenced her career with BHP Billiton and soon found herself in the middle of one of the largest corporate transactions in Australian history as the company demerged what is now South32. Katie embraced those challenges and played a key advisory role in the demerger. From there Katie moved to the corporate operations of South32 and was involved in designing the South32 HR Business Partnership.
Katie broadened her experience with a stint at South32’s Worsley Aluminum Operations before returning to the Illawarra. In her current role at IMC, Katie is part of the Operational Leadership Team. One of her key achievements has been the timely leading and resolution of two enterprise agreements.
In addition, Katie actively participates in the IMC Diversity Committee and was one of the drivers of the creation of the IMC Women’s Network.
Exceptional Woman - Sponsored by Mine Super
General Manager Government, External Relations and Community
Justine is a corporate affairs professional who has dedicated much of her career to mining, including providing communications services through her own consultancy to numerous Hunter Valley coal operations, as the Corporate Affairs Manager for Xstrata Coal and Head of External and Community Relations at CMOC-Northparkes copper-gold mine.
In addition, Justine has had significant success outside mining as the Oceania Marketing Director for Ernst and Young.
Throughout her mining career, Justine has been involved with the NSW Minerals Council. Her commitment and value to the industry were recently recognised with her appointment to the NSWMC Board.
Justine is committed to increasing gender diversity in the industry and has been a WIMNet mentor since the program’s inception in 2015. While at Northparkes, Justine established a Woman in Industry panel event to profile industry leaders to the Central West community and encourage discussions about careers, diversity and inclusion.
Renata Roberts - WINNER!
Chief Corporate Services Officer
Renata Roberts is the Chief Corporate Services Officer with Hunter based coal miner, The Bloomfield Group. Starting her mining career in 2002, Renata was given her first HR leadership role before the age of 30 at a Tasmanian underground zinc mine, later moving to Tennessee, USA to support the ramp-up of six underground mines.
Renata’s commitment to employee health and wellbeing has seen her lead The Bloomfield Group in a number of important community and gender-based initiatives including the introduction of the mental health program My Mindset which provides one on one professional support for employees, and introduction of paid parental leave for carers.
As well as having a significant leadership role at The Bloomfield Group, Renata has driven programs for the broader industry benefit including the HR and Safety Hub for HR and Safety Professionals in the Hunter.