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Heather Parry, Project Manager

You wouldn't expect a woman who passionately studied art at school to become a qualified Civil Engineer.

But that's exactly what you can expect from Heather Parry.

She's a woman of many talents who takes multitasking to a whole new level; she's a devoted mother, accredited Pony Club Instructor and keen renovator, who breeds and trains horses and regularly musters cattle for friends.

Heather is also the Project Manager for Leighton Contractors at the $299 million Dawson North Mine Project in Central Queensland, where she's accountable for a safe, efficient, on-budget mining operation.

Throughout school Heather's mother warned her about the lack of jobs in the artistic field. But for a woman who can think creatively, there are plenty of jobs in Australia's mining industry.

As Project Manager, Heather's role is a crucial one that entails supervising a multidisciplinary project team of over 150 personnel.

What she accomplished last year was a work of art, as constant floods wreaked havoc throughout the state. "I really did wonder, how am I going to lead my group out of this one?" she admits.

But with that imaginative head on her shoulders, Heather and her team managed to find the right solutions and strategies to get through those difficult times.

Heather's story started from a humble upbringing. Originally from NSW, Heather was raised by her mum, as one of four kids. She went on to complete a Bachelor of Civil Engineering at the University of Newcastle and worked in construction before moving to Queensland. After completing several construction projects for mine sites, she secured a job in mining because, she says, "mining is arare industry that allows professionals to live in the bush and lead a really fulfilling career".

Heather now actively campaigns for the recruitment and retention of women in the resources sector, with her operation boasting almost 20 per cent women in operator roles and 30 per cent women on the project team.

She's particularly excited about creating family-friendly roles available for stay-at-home mums who have kids at school, and sees these women as potentially being "an enormous asset" to her team.

Over the next 10 years it will be vital to encourage women to enter and remain in the mining sector, as literally thousands of people are required to support the expansion of the mining industry in Queensland.

In fact, the Queensland Resources Council is actively looking to "increase the proportion of women as operators, engineers, geologists and senior management".

"It's definitely a passion of mine to enable women to get into the mining industry," Heather says. "There's a wide spectrum of jobs available that would suit women who are either unemployed or underemployed."

It's this kind of attitude that won Heather the Queensland Resources Award for Women.

But Heather doesn't think of herself as a role model for women, she just gets on with life - whether she's instructing her staff at the mine or a horse at her daughter's Pony Club.

"Horses are good teachers for management because if you're not fair to a horse it responds badly, and it's the same with management."

Heather may not exactly be a horse whisperer, but her voice in the mining industry can be heard loud and clear.

And Heather Parry is just one of many women trailblazing a path for the Australian women who are destined to become leaders in our mining industry.