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How Leanne Heywood went from being made redundant to building an ASX portfolio career

Women on Boards I Making it Real

Release Date: 04/16/2021

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Once upon a time, this full-time NED for various ASX listed companies, worked one week a month in Mongolia in minus 40 degrees when she was the General Manager for Rio Tinto’s Global Copper Concentrate. Today she is often battling 40 degrees heat from her 1600-acre farm in Western NSW. Leanne latched onto the mining industry at a time when it wasn’t common for women and discrimination was overt. Leanne launched her portfolio career through hard work and preparation, and by not taking feedback personall

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“Don’t take every knock back as a personal failure,” shares Leanne Heywood, accomplished full time NED for multiple ASX listed boards in this episode of In Conversation with Claire Braund. From her 1600-acre farm in Peak Hill in Western NSW, Leanne’s career wasn’t always home grown. When she was the General Manager for Rio Tinto’s Global Copper Concentrate, Leanne would travel to Mongolia one week a month, transitioning from 40 degree heat to minus 40 degrees in a 24 hour travel period, door-to-door.

Leanne reflects on her initial disdain for Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s capital city, which was unsafe at night and had limited eating options. She decided to change her attitude and became friends with the local women who taught her all about the city, and joined her to eat at local unique spots,  which changed her whole experience.

A Narromine girl originally, Leanne was the School Captain at Narromine High. The daughter of a bank manager, she and her family were accustomed to regularly changing homes and schools for her father’s career. This put her in good stead for a rollercoaster career that saw her latch onto the mining industry early, at a time when it wasn’t common for females to work in the sector and the discrimination was overtly obvious.

She has also spent time in the rural, government and not-for-profit sectors as an experienced leader of transformational change, leading divisional start-ups, organisational restructuring, disposals and acquisitions, including integration.

A long time WOB member, Leanne completed the WOBSX course, our director-led, peer support program to assist women achieve ASX Board roles.  And in March 2019, Leanne did just that — she built a portfolio career as an NED on high profile boards. She shares with Claire the personal hard yards she put in to ensure the successful career she leads today. That’s not to say she hasn’t had her fair share of turndowns! She’s learnt to bounce back and greet feedback with a strategic eye, because nothing is personal. 

LinkedIn: Leanne Heywood | Claire Braund (host)

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