As a policeman’s daughter, Fiona Larsen grew up moving town-to-town with his regional postings. One was Roebourne, where a teenage boy had died in custody only a few months before, and the social and political issues she observed still influence her.
Fiona joined Rio Tinto in 2008 as an entry-level train examiner and faced early doubts from male colleagues due to her gender. But she succeeded and became a trainer and safety representative before being promoted to yard locomotive driver, a role in which she drove trains up to 2.5km long. After progressing to become a rail operations supervisor – the first female leader in the department – Fiona took on the task of leading a team that reconfigured complex documents outlining how to operate on Rio Tinto’s Pilbara rail network.
Now a contractor management supervisor, Fiona is highly regarded for her rigorous approach to safety and passion for engaging Indigenous people. Two Pilbara Aboriginal businesses Fiona assisted with onboarding are supplying the first renewable power to Rio Tinto’s 7 Mile Rail Operations, while Fiona played a key role in establishing Pilbara-based Certificate IV Leadership and Mentoring training for Indigenous People, so Rio Tinto staff and community members no longer need to travel to Perth to participate.