IT'S BEEN a long journey from teaching to underground coal-mining contracts and company management.
But Karla McPhail embraced them all and with a passion for training, business and her staff, she rose to success in the male-dominated world of mining.
The Undamine Industries and Coal Train Australia CEO has now been shortlisted as a Queensland finalist in the 2012 Telstra Business Women's Awards.
Ms McPhail, along with her husband Peter, began as director and CEO of Undamine Industries seven years ago on a kitchen table in Middlemount.
While still working as principal at the local school, she followed her dream and over the next seven years won every tender she submitted.
Today Undamine Industries is one of Queensland's largest privately owned industry contracting companies.
A love of training and a focus on safety led to Coal Train Australia, a state-of-the-art training facility in Yeppoon, the town she fell in love with and now calls home.
Coal Train was launched in January this year and specialises in course development, training, mentoring and corporate relationships.
"People drive me … I love training, I draw a lot of energy from that," she said.
"I'm a really high believer in professional ethics, integrity of practice and how you treat your workforce and the public.
"I don't like a political playing field."
Ms McPhail is quick to point to her staff as the backbone of her own success.
"I have an exceptional workforce, it's not all attributed to me.
"The two other directors are outstanding and it's easy to market and manage a good product," she said.
See tomorrow's Bully for more on Karla McPhail's success story.
The Telstra Business Woman of the Year Awards initially received thousands of entries from Queensland alone.
Ms McPhail is one of 25 finalists.
National finalists are announced next week.