Women in Resources Awards

Established in 2010, the Women in Resources Awards (WIRA) recognise individuals and organisations working to build a world-class industry which provides attractive career opportunities and enhances the recognition and participation of women in the sector. 

The Western Australian resources sector celebrated its gender diversity role models and leaders today at the ninth annual Women in Resources Awards.  Five inspiring women and an innovative company initiative were recognised at the Awards breakfast, attended by more than 1,000 guests.
Popular media personality and political commentator Annabel Crabb hosted the event and guests heard from industry experts during a panel discussion which highlighted how boards can influence the gender diversity discussion in their company.
CME congratulates all the winners and finalists recognised at the Awards and thanks those who attended the event, as well as the regional guests who joined the celebrations via live streaming.
The winners of the CME 2018 Women in Resources Awards are:
Rio Tinto – White Ribbon Accreditation
Nicole O’Keefe, Apprentice Electrician (BHP)
Peta Libby, Managing Director (Digirock)
Dhakshi Weerawardena, Processing Production Supervisor (BHP)
Veena Mendez, Category Team Lead (Chevron)
Winner – People’s Choice Award
Shannon Youd, Maintenance Planner Scheduler (KCGM)
Missed out on the awards presentation or wish to re-live it again? You can by clicking here.

2018 WIRA Finalists


Melissa Cundy

Manager Studies and Technology

Rio Tinto

Since graduating as a mining engineer, Melissa has experienced a diverse and challenging career in the resources sector.  Melissa’s professional journey has taken her from being the first woman in an underground coal mine in Central Queensland, to Paris and London where she managed feasibility studies for multi-million dollar resources projects. Her continuous improvement work has delivered billions of dollars in productivity gains for Rio Tinto over the last decade.  She is currently leading a team to deliver Rio Tinto’s first intelligent mine.  Melissa visits schools encouraging girls to study STEM subjects and has presented to UWA student engineers, promoting career opportunities in the resources sector.


Marisa Ioppolo-Armanios

Program Manager – Environmental and Process Chemistry Technology

Alcoa of Australia

Dr Marisa Ioppolo-Armanios is regarded by her peers and leaders as a highly skilled research scientist. She is an acclaimed expert in environmental (air and water quality) and process chemicals, managing and developing the Environmental Technology program for Alcoa’s global research and development hub, the Alumina Center of Excellence, based at the Kwinana Alumina Refinery.  She is a transformational leader with significant academic and professional achievements and successfully leads two breakthrough global projects in air and water quality for Alcoa. 
Raised in a traditional, first generation, immigrant family, Marisa’s expectation for herself was markedly different to the hairdresser expectation her family had for her. From a young age she challenged societal stereotypes and paradigms with great resilience and determination to pursue a university education in science.   Her determination saw her become the second woman to complete a PhD at Curtin University from within the male-dominated chemistry department. 
Marisa is a strong and active advocate in paving the way for other women in technical pathways.

Peta Libby

Managing Director


Peta is a geologist with over 20 years’ industry experience and is the Founder and Managing Director of Digirock, a geological consulting company.  Peta’s extensive career success and experience has led her to participate on a number of executive and non-executive not-for profit boards and committees associated with the resources sector.  In addition to regularly presenting at a variety of industry forums, mentoring women and Indigenous employees, Peta is a champion for improving safety outcomes of exploration workers in remote locations and  leading the development of safety manuals and procedures, now used by over 30 companies globally.  Through her company, Peta models and provides flexible work arrangements for both men and women, ensuring they remain connected to the business.



Martha Hackshaw

Petroleum Engineer

Chevron Australia

The ability to directly contribute to society through the supply of energy attracted Martha to study petroleum engineering and work in the oil and gas industry.  Since commencing work in the industry eight years ago, Martha has held key petroleum engineering roles and delivered savings worth millions of dollars.  More recently, Martha’s role has expanded to assist senior leadership with building stronger employee culture. A champion for diversity and inclusion, Martha has led efforts to launch Catalyst’s Men Advocating Real Change program in Chevron’s Perth office which, to date, involves over 170 employees, around 70% male.  Martha has acted as a mentor across a number of industry initiatives and is an advocate for the importance of mental health and how to maintain resilience in the workplace.


Tijana Mirkovic

Manager Finance Reporting


Tijana entered the resources sector less than five years ago as a business analyst.  Within two years she was accepted into BHP’s Finance Emerging Leaders Program as the youngest participant.  Tijana’s outstanding career trajectory now sees her as one of BHP’s youngest managers, reporting directly to the Vice President. Immigrating to Australia from Serbia as a child and barely speaking English, Tijana was keen to fit in.  Her upbringing taught her to embrace individual differences, a value fundamental to BHP’s Western Australian Iron Ore (WAIO) Inclusion and Diversity journey.  One of her biggest achievements to date has been redesigning the leadership team’s routines and reports, allowing them to cut time spent in meetings by 70%, which is being replicated across BHP.  Tijana actively advocates flexible work arrangements and formed WAIO’s first Inclusion and Diversity Council.


Dhakshi Weerawardena

Processing Production Supervisor


Growing up in mining towns in Sri Lanka and Australia, Dhakshi developed a passion for the mining sector. After studying engineering and commerce at university, Dhakshi rapidly progressed from graduate to production processing supervisor, providing support to operators and influencing positive cultural change.  Her first leadership role as Mine Services Supervisor saw Dhakshi’s team achieve 365 days injury free and become part of the most productive mine services team at BHP Western Australia Iron Ore. Dhakshi is a champion of working in the resources sector and volunteers to engage with university students to promote careers in the sector.  She has also given presentations outside Australia to university students in Sri Lanka about working in the Australian mining industry. 



Megan Lockyer

Drill and Blast Operator

Fortescue Metals Group

Megan is an Ngarluma, Yindjibarndi and Kuruma woman from Roebourne in Western Australia. Megan entered the industry as a clerical trainee but learnt she was more interested in working in the field and operating big machinery. Megan has progressed from field technician to recently accepting a role as driller. Outside of work, Megan raises awareness of important social issues and has recently created the Keep Your Hands to Yourself campaign on Facebook to highlight the effects of community and domestic violence.Understanding and practicing lore and culture is important to Megan and she makes sure this is reflected in her work and in mentoring young Aboriginal people. Megan is a role model for young girls in her community and is part of numerous leadership groups for Aboriginal women.


Nicole O’Keefe

Apprentice Electrician


Nicole is due to complete her electrical apprenticeship early this year at 33 years of age. She started her career in mining eleven years ago as HR officer. Upon deciding to switch professions, Nicole took a 55% pay reduction to commence an apprenticeship.  Her decision to change careers was often challenged and being in a classroom with school-aged students built resilience.  Through hard work and dedication, Nicole earnt the respect of fellow students and work colleagues and has excelled in her apprenticeship. She has pursued transfers and secondments throughout her apprenticeship to gain a well-rounded understanding of electrical equipment. Nicole volunteers in the role of Board Chair for the not-for-profit organisation, TradeUP Australia, which aims to encourage women and girls to consider non-traditional trades as a career option.  Nicole coordinates female volunteers to represent their trades at schools and other events, and is a frequent speaker herself. 


Shannon Youd

Maintenance Planner Scheduler

Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines (KCGM)

At the age of 16, Shannon commenced her dual electrical/instrumental trade apprenticeship. After a career in mining spanning 26 years, Shannon continues to challenge the status quo and has been shift supervisor, TAFE lecturer, planner scheduler and acting superintendent. When Shannon was new to industry, she thought to be successful in a male-dominated trade, you needed to be ‘one of the boys.’ She has since learnt that what makes her ‘different’ is actually a strength and she uses her experience to encourage young women to enter and succeed in similar trades. Shannon dedicates time to mentoring and sharing her story with school students and other women in the workplace. She recently become involved in the KCGM Inclusion and Diversity Business Resource Group as the Chairperson for their Women in Mining group.



Veena Mendez

Category Team Lead

Chevron Australia

Veena is the Chair and Founder of Women in Oil in Gas (WIOG), a networking organisation committed to promoting diversity and the career advancement of women in the Oil and Gas industry.  Established in 2013, WOIG now has a subscriber base of more than 2,500 individuals.  With the assistance of the WOIG Board and Committee, Veena has created a variety of education outreach programs, a mentoring program and local and regional networking events. Together with presenting at conferences and participating on various panels for industry discussions, Veena volunteers her time towards many other causes, notably having been a board member for Zonta House Women’s refuge. In 2015, Veena was named a winner in the Australian Financial Review’s 100 Women of Influence list. Veena believes by focusing on the benefits of and opportunities arising from diversity, a high performing resources sector can better contribute to WA’s economic wellbeing.


Lynn Olssen

General Manager – Resource Knowledge and Definition

Rio Tinto

Lynn is a strong advocate for women in resources within her company, Western Australia and Australasia more broadly.  A geologist with more than 24 years’ experience in the mining industry, Lynn has served as Chair of the AusIMM Women in Mining Network Committee, member of the Women in Mining WA seminar committee and mentoring program and is the current chair of the Rio Tinto Exploration Australasian I&D Committee, tasked with improving inclusion and diversity in Rio Tinto.  She is an active member of MCA’s Gender Diversity Reference Group and CME’s Gender Diversity Reference Group.  Recognised for her diversity advocacy, Lynn is regularly invited to present at conferences, student career events and panel discussions.  She advocates for diversity to achieve better team dynamics and performance. 



Sharron Sutton

Mine Technical Services Manager

Rio Tinto

Sharron views her leadership role as an opportunity to share her knowledge and experience to develop, enable and inspire women to do their best. As the first non-mining engineer and second female Technical Services Manager at Rio Tinto, Sharron proved that a leader without technical expertise could effectively engage and lead a team. She mentors women across many technical disciplines through her work with the National Association of Women in Operations.  Sharron is an active proponent for STEM education and is involved in Murdoch’s STEM outreach and supports Robogals’ leadership development program. Sharron was pivotal in the development of the Female Forum at Greater Brockman which engaged female and male leaders to run networking events and she has boosted female participation in numerous teams she has managed. Sharron is working hard to drive a less masculine culture, one that is more caring, collaborative, empowering and flexible for all.



Frontline Talent Development Program

Alcoa of Australia

Alcoa has developed the Frontline Talent Development Program, designed to help frontline employees map out individual career progression plans. Prior to the program’s development, a gap was identified in Alcoa’s talent development discussions, which were only occurring with production department staff and not the more than 200 individuals in the frontline workforce. The program is strengths-based, encouraging and acknowledging the many attributes and talents employees have, which they capture in their Talent Development booklet giving confidence to consider a range of career options outside their current functions and roles.  The program has exceeded its original female participation target of 29%, with 40% of program participants being female.   The program has empowered Alcoa’s female workforce to pursue non-traditional mining roles and provided them with guidance and sponsorship to ensure success. Alcoa is now looking to expand the program to their wider business.


White Ribbon Accreditation

Rio Tinto

Rio Tinto recognises its responsibility to help eliminate domestic violence, a widespread issue which impacts the workplace and community. The company understands that to make a positive impact in the communities in which it operates, it needs to partner with the community to help break the cycle of violence among perpetrators. Rio Tinto is well down the path of becoming an accredited White Ribbon workplace to guide its ongoing response.  In 2017, a package of measures was introduced to support employees impacted by domestic violence, including paid leave for medical and legal assistance, counselling, relocation or other safety arrangements. Emergency financial assistance and accommodation is also available to anyone requiring immediate help, along with a range of specialised support services. Rio Tinto continues to train leaders to equip them with the knowledge and skills to recognise and respond.  In August 2017, Rio Tinto issued an Australia-wide guidance note outlining protections available to individuals at risk of or experiencing domestic violence. This guide encourages any employee experiencing domestic violence to remain in the workforce, which often provides the financial security needed to escape a violent relationship.


St Catherine’s College – Woodside Scholarship Program

Woodside Energy

In 2014, Woodside initiated a partnership with St Catherine’s College through the Dandjoo Darbalung Program to support Indigenous students residing away from their family and cultural lands through a scholarship program. The scholarships are offered for industry-specific roles that preferably lead to a future opportunity with Woodside and have provided a range of benefits to students. The growth in graduation numbers and strong female participation rate highlights the success of this model, with 49% of Indigenous female students taking part in the Woodside Scholarship Program in 2017.  The program has also achieved positive outcomes for Indigenous young people aspiring to study at university.  Notably, the 75% retention rate of Woodside scholarship students at university is higher than the national average of 71%, and 92% of scholarship recipients have found employment. The mentoring, work experience, holistic support and financial assistance are all contributing factors to realising success for the female Indigenous students in the St Catherine’s Woodside Indigenous Scholarship program. The program is accessible to all Indigenous students, however there is a focus on encouraging Pilbara and Kimberley applicants to apply given Woodside’s close relationship with these two communities.   


  • Women in Resources Champion (male or female) 
  • Outstanding Company Initiative
  • Outstanding Woman in Resources
  • Outstanding Young Woman in Resources
    (Aged 30 years or younger as at 31 December 2017)
  • Outstanding Operator/Technician/Trade Woman. 

To view the Selection Criteria for each category click here.


CME are pleased to have the following sponsors for the 2018 Women in Resources Awards:

Platinum Sponsors - BHP and Chevron

Regional Sponsors - Rio Tinto

Mentoring Sponsor - Alcoa of Australia

Gold Sponsors - AngloGold Ashanti Australia, BGC Contracting, Hitachi Construction Machinery, Northern Minerals

Silver Sponsors - ATCO Australia, Evolution Mining, Shell Australia, St Barbara Ltd, Thiess, Woodside

In addition; Atlas Iron Ltd, Cleveland-Cliffs Inc, Department of Communities, Iluka and INPEX will join as Inspiring Girls Sponsors.

There are still opportunities to join as an Inspiring Girls Sponsor as part of the 2018 Women in Resources Awards. Inspiring Girls will provide an opportunity for students to interact with industry representatives and reinforce key industry messages around women in resources.

Please see the last page of the sponsorship prospectus for further information or contact

Past winners

Women in Resources Champion

2017 - John Galvin
2016 - Michael Schoch
2015 - Linda O'Farrell
2014 - Stuart Forrester
2013 - Julie Shuttleworth
2012 - Joanne Farrell
2011 - Kate Sommerville
2010 - Sabina Shugg

Outstanding Woman in Resources
2017 - Vanessa Torres
2016 - Claire Negus
2015 - Bronwyn Barnes
2014 - Kyra Bonney
2013 - Vanessa Guthrie
2012 - Margaret Watroba
2011 - Maryanne Kelly
2010 - Kellie Parker

Outstanding Young Woman in Resources
2017 - Rachel Leong
2016 - Megan Kline
2015 - Kalpana Maharage
2014 - Heidi Edwards
2013 - Jenna Robertson
2012 - Katrina Bukauskus

Outstanding Operator / Technician / Trade Woman
2017 - Sharron Freitas
2016 - Yvonne Fahey
2015 - Margeaux Janenko
2014 - Emma Stevenson
2013 - Jodie Gray
2012 - Natasha Cann
2011 - Kym Jones

Outstanding Company Initiative
2017 - Shell Australia - Closing the Gender Pay Gap
2016 - BHP Billiton Nickel West - Job Sharing in Senior Leadership
2015 - Atlas Iron - Women in Atlas
2014 - St Barbara Ltd - Eliminating the Equity Pay Gap
2013 - Chevron - Women in Engineering
2012 - Newmont Boddington Gold - Driving Force
2011 - BHP Billiton - Pilbara Childcare Strategy
2010 - Woodside Energy

People's Choice Award
2017 - Sharron Freitas
2016 - Suzan Drake-Brockman
2015 - Geeta Thakorlal
2014 - Rachel Mottram
2013 - Julie Shuttleworth
2012 - Dannielle Bancroft

Recognition of Lifetime Achievement
Georgina Rinehart
Maureen Muggeridge
Erica Smyth