Many women working for Rio Tinto are enjoying quiet and picturesque landscapes while forging careers through work they love

Rio Tintos Marianne Hoareau shares her life in Pannawonica

Rio Tinto's Marianne Hoareau shares her life in Pannawonica

About 1,429 km north of Perth, Marianne Hoareau is busy working with her team mates to safely manage iron ore mine operations and maintain the important equipment. Marianne lives in the small town of Pannawonica where she works as Robe Valley manager Maintenance & Fixed Plant Operations.

"Love where you live, live where you love,” says Marianne as she reflects with Where Women Work on her career, her community and her artistic passion for photography. 

A fascinating history for a beautiful part of the world 

Pannawonica is one of many iron ore mining towns in the Pilbara, built specifically to house workers and their families. The origin of its name is just as interesting as its history: the name comes from the nearby Pannawonica Hill meaning "the hill that came from the sea". The legend is that two local Aboriginal tribes were arguing over ownership of the hill located by the sea. The sea spirit decided to resolve the dispute by moving the hill inland. As the hill was dragged over the land it left a deep indentation which became the Robe River.

A close-knit and vibrant community

Marianne describes herself as being very community and family oriented, and one of the things she loves about Pannawonica is that it’s a small town with a population of around 600, where everyone knows everyone.

Pannawonica has a strong sense of community offering a sought-after lifestyle. Although a small community, it has a thriving primary school, community groups for all ages and abilities, regular events with a unique and awe-inspiring landscape. The family friendly community supports all your basic needs with a public swimming pool, squash courts, gym and free open-air cinema.

Outside of work, Marianne is president of Robe River Rodeo, known locally as the 'Panna Rodeo'. A major part of the Pannawonica events calendar, it attracts more than 3000 people from across Australia every year.

A career of firsts and promotions along the way

Marianne has always been fulfilled through her work and her journey is an interesting and fluid one. 

“Where do I start …. some 30+ years ago I started my apprenticeship as a fitter and turner (one of the first female fitter and turners in Australia with Qantas).” In this role, Marianne was on the tools for a number of years before moving into a maintenance planning role, then into maintenance management, operation management.

Marianne has had a long and exciting career working for Qantas Airlines, Kodak, The Age, McCain Foods, and Alcoa before taking up the opportunity to work for Rio Tinto.

Marianne started at Rio Tinto's Tom Price mine as a superintendent in the Fixed Plant and from there she was promoted and relocated into Pannawonica as the manager Maintenance and Fixed Plant at Robe Valley. Marianne manages 187 employees from both Mobile Equipment Maintenance and Fixed Plant Maintenance and Operations. Marianne believes the "best move" she has made is moving from Victoria to explore the beautiful Pilbara region.

Supporting an engaged and committed workforce

RioTinto Pannawonnica work

Marianne’s daily routine includes managing people, safety and assets performance (MEM & Fixed Plant). She believes key skills include keeping your finger on the pulse, knowing what questions to ask and whom to ask. “You need to know how to communicate with people. To have an engaged workforce is the biggest challenge – the key is to treat people as you want to be treated,” adds Marianne.

With exciting new technology innovations, Marianne hopes she will start to see more women working in the industry as it moves from its origins of being quite male-dominated. "There are great opportunities to get more females into trades, and the technology changes in mining are very exciting so I hope to see more females applying and being recruited into the excellent jobs in the mining sector," comments Marianne.

The most challenging aspect of Marianne's role is to be able to manage change and have her team come along on the journey. The best part of her role, says Marianne, is when change is handled well and when her team comes through the changes very engaged. Another aspect Marianne really enjoys about her work is the people she meets, hearing their individual stories about where they've been and what they've done.

People are highly valued at Rio Tinto

Marianne is nothing but positive about Rio Tinto's work culture and their attitude towards employees. "Rio Tinto has a culture of leveraging and learning. They encourage team work and really strive to make sure we work as a team no matter what level or area of the organisation you are in. Rio Tinto values their people and I would have to say it is one of the best companies I have worked for because they really want their people to grow."

For women looking to join Rio Tinto's team of talented women, Marianne gives some advice: "Be open to learning new things, continue to ask more question and believe in yourself. Everyone starts somewhere - what counts is what you do when the opportunity arises." And Marianne's career advice? "Treat people as you want to be treated, everyone has to start somewhere and everyone has a story. But be true to yourself and never give up."

Maintaining a great work-life balance

RioTinto Pannawonnica mine

Marianne loves exploring Pannawonica's vast stretches of beautiful surroundings and stunning landscapes through her other passions: photography and camping. The area around Pannawonica area is part of a 2500 million year old formation containing the Hamersley group of rocks, formed by chemical sedimentation of minerals in an ocean environment.

The Robe River also has many stunning picnic spots and shaded swimming holes, while the nearby Millstream Chichester National Park is home to the tranquil oasis of the Millstream wetlands and Fortescue River pools. Following trails around the area will bring you face to face with a variety of flora and fauna, from colourful wildflowers to red kangaroos. 

"It's our own little 'Pannadise'," says Marianne. “Pannawonica is a secret haven in the Pilbara. People who know and have lived in Pannawonica never forget it - it’s a one-of-a-kind diamond in the rough.”  

And there's a quirky local tradition that makes sure Pannawonica doesn't forget its residents. When someone leaves the town permanently, they sling their boots up onto the Boot Tree, with the branches now home to hundreds of boots.

RioTinto Pannawonnica boot tree

Rio Tinto produces critical materials for the world

As pioneers in mining and metals, Rio Tinto produces materials that are essential to human progress - so working for the company certainly provides a sense of pride.

Rio Tinto's history is filled with firsts. They've developed some of the world’s largest and best quality mines and operations, with their people working in around 35 countries across six continents. Aluminium and copper, diamonds, gold and industrial minerals, iron ore, coal and uranium: are their materials that make up the world around us and you’ll find them in smartphones, planes, cars, hospitals and even throughout your home. 

Rio Tinto offers a truly inclusive and diverse workforce

Rio Tinto has a diverse team of talented, enthusiastic individuals who consistently foster a culture of inclusion. No matter how they may differ, Rio Tinto's people share one thing in common - their belief that work is more rewarding when everyone is accepted and valued for their differences. Everyone has something to contribute, and it’s this contribution that makes for a great company and fulfilling career.

RioTinto Pannawonnica - Marianne

Join the talented women working for Rio Tinto at Pannawonica

A thriving career, friendly supportive work teams, a diverse and exciting community, and beautiful landscapes - sound like it's worth exploring?

Rio Tinto offers exceptional career options to work with the latest technology and innovation in an environment where you are challenged and supported to drive positive change.

Research Rio Tinto's current job vacancies and apply for a tremendous career with a brilliant lifestyle today, supported by a top employer.  


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