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Award sets stage for dairy women leaders

22 November 2012

Award sets stage for dairy women leaders

Katrina Knowles

Taranaki farmer Katrina Knowles would not describe herself as a “singer and dancer”, but someone more than happy to help set the stage for those who do.

Katrina was one of six finalists in last year’s Dairy Woman of the Year award, and has a couple of nominees in mind this year whom she believes could benefit the industry by having the stage set by someone like herself.

The 2013 Dairy Woman of the Year Award is sponsored exclusively by Fonterra Milk Supply and includes a scholarship worth $25,000 to attend the year-long Women in Leadership course run by Global Women.

The modest but highly successful dairy farmer, wife, mum and DairyNZ team leader found entering the award a way to better understand her own on-going contributions to the industry.

“After completing last year’s award process, I realised that my passion was helping nurture younger women keen to move through the ranks, who had leadership potential and who could really benefit from entering the award.”

She is comfortable encouraging a younger generation to make the big move to boards and positions around the country’s powerful agribusiness companies. She believes the Dairy Women’s Network has proven the ideal incubator to source such women, and to host such an award.

Katrina believes last year’s winner, Barbara Kuriger, was the ideal candidate to take the title, she has positioned herself well and was able to devote the time and effort needed to complete the “high level” scholarship programme that comprised the award.

The prestigious Women in Leadership programme provides participants with high-calibre connections, mentoring and professional and personal development.

She is convinced Barbara will move on to “bigger and better things” quickly as a result of what the scholarship has provided her over the year.

Women only make up around 15% of the boards on agribusiness enterprises in New Zealand, yet are involved in 85% of farm purchase decisions. This disparity means Katrina is an ardent supporter of any award that improves the skills of women so they can contribute at the top level of agribusiness governance.

“I have in mind a couple of women I would like to nominate this year who could contribute a lot to the industry by moving quicker through to board level.”

Katrina signed on to the Network in its early days and has enjoyed seeing it grow and prosper over the past 14 years.

“I think the vision of those women who started the Network is now coming to fruition, it has become a very professional, well-funded organisation. The support is there not only from members, but also from sponsors wanting to be part of the Network, they recognise the integral role women play in the decision making on today’s modern dairy farms.”

Meantime Katrina is happy to play her role, giving those who have the willingness to “sing and dance” a gentle nudge onto the stage to perform.

Nominations for the Dairy Woman of the Year award close December 16 and the winner will be announced at a gala dinner in Nelson on March 20 2013.
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