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News & Media > Alumnae Awards > 2024 Alumnae Award Recipients > Claire Alidenes (1993)

Claire Alidenes (1993)

2024 Alumnae Award for Professional Achievement

On nominating her sister for a 2024 Alumnae Award, Nina Alidenes (1990), said ‘I cannot tell you how proud we all are of Claire, her achievements, and who she is as an extraordinary individual.’ 

Claire was a student at MLC School from K – Year 12. She was Churunga Captain in 1993 and led the House to victory in the 1993 swimming carnival, gymnastics and chess competitions. Claire encouraged members of the House to participate and created an inclusive, high-energy team spirit. She was part of MLC School’s inaugural water polo and basketball teams and was part of the swimming team, senior netball team and the ski team. Her sister Nina has a daughter, Lucy, who is a current Year 6 student at the school.

After the HSC, Claire completed a Bachelor of Business (Finance, Marketing, International Business). Following this, she ventured to East Africa on safari and then worked as a high-school teacher in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, teaching a range of subjects including maths, business studies and swimming. After working on the Gallipoli Peninsula and in London, Claire relocated to Perth, Western Australia where she gained a graduate role with Rio Tinto in their procurement division. She was quickly promoted to Superintendent Supply Chain.

With a strong desire to make a positive contribution to developing countries, and as a sense of adventure, Claire moved to Kabul, Afghanistan through Australian Volunteers International working for the Afghan Development Association. This was one year post the events of September 11 2001 and when Afghanistan was in a phase of rebuilding after decades of conflict. She then gained a role through the United Nations advising the Minister of Rural Rehabilitation and Development to support the effective delivery of projects following an influx of international donor funding. 

On return to Australia she completed her Masters of International and Development Economics at the Australian National University and worked with the Australian Department of Treasury as an International Economic Policy Analyst. After 3 years in Canberra, Claire moved to Melbourne and worked for Independent Project Analysis as a consultant to mining, oil & gas mega projects across Australia and South East Asia. 

When the Global Financial Crisis hit, Claire took up a new challenge and moved to Vietnam working as a Senior Program Manager at the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) where she developed a climate change project for impacted people on the Mekong Delta.

In 2011, Claire rejoined Rio Tinto and has worked across many areas and commodities including iron ore, copper, diamonds and coal to deliver transformational programs, strategies, new technology and improvements to multi-billion-dollar capital programs. Working in a male-dominated industry, Claire has been a champion of diversity at Rio Tinto and has built teams more representative of society and credits the success of the teams she has built to their inclusive and diverse nature.

Since August 2022, Claire has lived in Mongolia working for Oyu Tolgoi which is a Joint Venture between Rio Tinto and the Government of Mongolia. It is the largest Foreign Direct Investment in Mongolia’s history and the copper mine in the South Gobi desert has resulted in significant economic growth for Mongolia. Claire holds the role of General Manger, Strategy & Integration and has led the development and implementation of its strategy ‘Creating Prosperity. Together.’


Alumae Awards Acceptance Speech

Good evening.

Thank you – it is an honour to accept an award that so many amazing women have already received.

I would like to thank my sister—Nina Alidenes (1990)—for nominating me. Nina is also an extremely successful person. She is a successful entrepreneur and has brought joy to so many people throughout her career establishing and operating very successful restaurants in the inner-west.

There are so many amazing achievements and contributions recognized tonight and in previous years. While my CV is interesting and varied, some of my greatest achievements are about impacting the people around me and working together to solve complex problems. In Rio Tinto, where I work now, I have established strategies and programs that think beyond the financial return. They focus on sustainability where impacts on people, society and the environment are considered in a balanced way. I am also proud of the work I have done mentoring women in the industry to step up creating a more inclusive, diverse and enjoyable workplace. And, I’ve loved having a positive impact in the places I’ve worked in Mongolia, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Tanzania and, course, Australia.

I have been reflecting on what influence MLC School has had on me and how this has contributed to my success.

I wasn’t the smartest, I wasn’t the sportiest (that would be Jane Wilson (1993) over there), I wasn’t the most popular, I wasn’t the best debater. I wasn’t really the best at anything but I gave pretty much anything a go.

I was sometimes the scruffiest, I was sometimes disruptive, and I was terrible at public speaking.

What, I think MLC School did was help amplify my strengths and perhaps polish up a few rough spots. I’m still pretty scruffy, a little disruptive and don’t enjoy public speaking but I am disruptive in a constructive way! And, it’s important to be disruptive to drive progress in the world we live in.

I would like to acknowledge some of the amazing staff who tried to amplify some of my strengths and quirks. Ms Osborne a Maths teacher, Mrs McGuiness an Economics teacher, Goody Proctor our English teacher. There were also many teachers that I frustrated immensely. There was also plenty of lessons from them as well!

MLC School also protected me from the world somewhat – in a good way. I did not consciously realise until well into my 20s (after returning from Afghanistan) that sexism existed in Australia. Having the confidence that I could do anything I wanted to do is a combination of my time at MLC School, my family (and I would like to acknowledge my mum and aunt, two inspirational women who are here tonight) as well as my own sense of self, has most definitely helped me navigate the male-dominated mining industry where I work. Knowing that women can do anything, I have helped promote a more inclusive and diverse workforce where I have been.

MLC School also contributed to my strong desire to have a positive impact on the world. I remember giving a presentation at assembly to raise money for farmers impacted by floods. I think I almost cried in my appeal – I was pretty committed to the cause. While I work for a big mining company I will never lose sight of the reason that I am there is to have a positive impact on the world around me. Living and working in Mongolia I can see directly the positive economic impact on the livelihoods of many Mongolians of having significant foreign direct investment.

Lastly, MLC School provided some long lasting friendships some of whom are here today. I know that I can call up any of the amazing ladies at that table and rely on them for laughs or support. We have all gone on to be ourselves and do very different and amazing things and it is just wonderful to know that we will remain friends for life.

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