Business Woman of the Year awarded to Leanne Heywood

BUSINESS WOMAN OF THE YEAR: Leanne Heywood was named the business woman at the Women of the Year Awards.

BUSINESS WOMAN OF THE YEAR: Leanne Heywood was named the business woman at the Women of the Year Awards.

Peak Hill's Leanne Heywood has been named the NSW Business Woman of the Year.

Ms Heywood received the accolade at NSW's International Women's Day celebrations last Thursday.

"It's been one of the most exciting things I've been involved in," Ms Heywood said of the awards and the lead up to its presentation.

"The evening at His Excellency's (NSW Governor Peter Cosgrove) home was wonderful and today has just been a dream.

"Disbelieving, humbled, excited, nervous, all of those things combined into one," she said of her feelings after the announcement.

"Winning this award means, I believe, I will be able to get out and talk to more young women and inspire more young women, which is what I want to do with my experience.

"Women aren't inclined to recognise themselves and their own achievements, it is really important for others to stand up and talk about what women are achieving and make women believe in themselves," Ms Heywood said.

Currently living on a property in Peak Hill, Leanne grew up in Narromine.

She commutes on a regular basis to Sydney where she works with Orocobre, a lithium miner with operations in Argentina, as well as the Australian Meat Processor Corporation and is a member of the NSW Council for Women’s Economic Opportunity.

Leanne said she takes pride in what she has achieved, but said "it's not without a lot of great support" and "many barriers throughout her career".

"There have been many barriers throughout my career, not the least of which was my first corporate role which was one woman on a mine site with 300 men and they wouldn't let me underground because it was considered bad luck," Ms Heywood said.

"I think how I've overcome them is I just ignored them and got on with it.

"I never believed that what I wanted to do was not possible and I got on with it," she added.

As for the future of equality Ms Heywood said she believes targets and incentives are essential.

"We're not going to make meaningful change without that," she said.

Ms Heywood also had a few words of advice for young women embarking on a corporate career and the importance of family support.

"The advice I would give is to make sure you have your key supporters lined up behind you.

"Mine, across my life have been my husband and more recently my children and grandchildren.

"You need to have those people behind you, telling you just how wonderful you are and you can do it.

"I have the most amazing husband who believes in me, is proud of me and would do whatever he can do support me.

"And my children are there for me when I come home," she said.

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