Marianne Finch may only be a rookie at the controls of Dragline 13, but as Saraji’s first female dragline trainee, she has a strong message for her female colleagues in mining: “Don’t take no for an answer.”

Employed within the mining industry for almost 10 years, Finch commenced her career driving trucks at BHP’s Peak Downs mine in Australia in 2005.

However, it wasn’t long before she began looking for the next challenge, and, through sheer persistence, quickly found herself behind the wheel of the dozer — a piece of machinery traditionally only operated by men.

After conquering the dozer it was onto the digger, and finally a move to BHP’s Saraji mine in 2012 created an opportunity for Finch to commence a dragline traineeship.

She said being a dragline operator was the best role on site.

“The role is challenging and pushes you out of your comfort zone every day,” she said. Finch believes the key to succeeding in the role, and the industry as a whole, is developing trust with the crew.

“When accepting this opportunity, I did question whether I had done the right thing,” Finch said. “However, through the support of my team and friendships on site, I was able to push through those thoughts and I’m now confident I’ve made the right decision.

“And I’ve enjoyed the challenge every day since,” she said.

Finch’s crew supervisor Rob Jacobsen said she had the right attitude to build a strong career for herself.

“She is a keen learner and not afraid to try anything new,” he said.

Dragline trainer and assessor Lyndon Bayles echoed Jacobsen’s thoughts. “With more practical training, it won’t be long until we pass Marianne out as a ‘smooth operator’ here on site — a title every dragline operator strives to achieve,” he said.

Finch has some wise words of advice for women who might be considering pursuing a career as an operator in the mining industry. “Continue to push the norm and don’t take second prize,” Finch said. “But above all, be sure you want the role, be sure you will stick at it and when given the opportunity — don’t quit.

“Persist at it and prove to those higher than you why you not only deserve that role, but also any future opportunities that may come along,” she said.

On her rostered off days, she resides in Emerald with family. She is also a keen polocross competitor — a sport that sees her travel across the region.