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Sharon Ward, Learning and Development Officer

Prior to entering the resources sector Sharon was a teacher aid at the Nebo State Primary School.

Sharon says she was looking for a new and challenging career and was encouraged by friends already working in the industry. She is an active member of the Nebo community, instructing swimming and horse riding and is active in the SES unit and ambulance committee.

'I was one of the first few women, who began with no skills as an operator, to drive a dozer at Hail Creek Mine. This was only about three or four years ago,'  Sharon says.

'Since then, other women at the mine have extended their skills and have also tried their hand at driving track equipment such as dozers, excavators, and shovels.

'No one is limited to doing one thing for the rest of their lives. I believe in up-skilling and progressing people so they are exposed to different roles and opportunities, whether it's men or women. I believe that this approach significantly helps in attracting and retaining their skills in the industry.

'I don't necessarily see myself as a trail blazer for women in the industry, but I feel that my decision has opened doors for other women to take opportunities when they present themselves. At the end of the day, we are in charge of our own futures and we shouldn't be afraid to take on new challenges.

'I'm passionate about working in this industry because it makes you step out of your comfort zone. It builds your skills, and increases your self-confidence. It's great that more women are entering and I hope that my story will encourage others to take the same leap of faith that I did. It's certainly been worth it.'

Sharon was a co-winner of the operator category in the 2011 Queensland Resources Awards for Women.

'Winning the award has enabled me to understand that other women do like to venture into roles previously dedicated to men so it has made me even more determined to aim for more challenging roles,' says Sharon.

'If you have the right attitude, women can progress through skill levels and into more advanced roles. This is even if they start at basic levels and hopefully be encouraged to fulfil their potential.'