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Meet the leader: Virna Trout, Head of Legal, Australia/Asia Region, FLSmidth

· 700 words, 3 min read

Virna Trout, Head of Legal for the Australia/Asia Region at FLSmidth, an AusIMM Industry Partner, reflects on her career in resources, her day-to-day work, and advice she has for those looking to build a career in the sector. 

Please tell us about your career journey – what drew you to a career in resources?

I guess it’s in my blood…I grew up in Mount Isa, with a father working as a metallurgist and manager at Mount Isa Mines (MIM). After commencing my studies in Commerce/Law, I worked every Christmas vacation with MIM, in areas of Industrial Relations/Employee Relations, supply department, procurement etc.

After qualifying as a solicitor, my mining engineer husband and I relocated to Mount Isa and I then commenced working as an Inhouse Legal Advisor for MIM, beginning a great career in the resources sector, that has taken me all around Australia and internationally, working for both mining companies and suppliers to the mining industry.

What does your day-to-day work look like? What projects are you currently focused on?

As Head of Legal, I manage a small but geographically diverse team in Western Australia, Queensland and China. The Legal Department primarily provides legal solutions for FLSmidth across commercial contracts, governance, construction law, merger and acquisition opportunities and employment/industrial law. My day-to-day activities involve a lot of contract reviews, focussed on identifying and providing timely and practical legal solutions that deliver significant business value by balancing risk and reward.

How did you make the transition to leadership? Was this something you were always passionate about?

I transitioned to a leadership role about 10 years ago, when I became manager of a larger team after an internal re-organisation. This has resulted in membership on the broader APAC business management team and I am now also a director on many of the corporate legal entities.

I have always had a genuine desire to empower talent and constantly challenge and guide colleagues. I believe everyone can and should contribute to a company’s future, strategic direction and culture regardless of their official title – by modelling core values such as agility, collaboration, integrity and teamwork, we can all be leaders. Having a curious mindset and being confident to challenge the status quo has also helped me on my leadership journey.

Can you share with us some of the initiatives you’ve led or been part of that are helping drive positive diversity and inclusion outcomes at FLSmidth? 

We have run a series of formal mentor programs, which I have participated in as a mentor to both male and female colleagues. I have also supported many other female colleagues on an informal mentorship basis, with a particular focus on those early in their leadership careers, to ensure they are getting the specific support needed to succeed in their roles, advocating both for and with them. And of course, FLSmidth has been an active supporter of AusIMM International Women’s Day Series, which I have participated in and promoted internally. 

How might we encourage more people into careers in the resources sector? Do you have any words of advice for those looking to build a career in mining?

I am and always will be a passionate promotor of the resources sector. I believe it provides opportunities for all types of careers – obviously while operationally STEM-focussed careers are the main focus of many in the sector, there are numerous other opportunities available for people from diverse backgrounds and education, particularly in critical supporting business functions. FLSmidth’s purpose is ‘Mining for a Sustainable World’ – an ethos that fully aligns with my own values and personal drivers. I’ve had a great career in mining and am looking forward to having many more years engaged and supporting the resources sector.  

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