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Charmaine O’Shea takes 2014 Dairy Woman of the Year title

20 March 2014

Charmaine O’Shea takes 2014 Dairy Woman of the Year title

Northland dairy farmer and Chartered Accountant Charmaine O’Shea was named the Dairy Woman of the Year last night at a gala dinner held by the Dairy Women’s Network in Hamilton.

With more than 20 years’ dairy farming and financial expertise, O’Shea has played an important role in improving the profitability of the New Zealand dairy industry through strong financial, environmental and people performance.

She is an equity partner in a Maungatapere dairy farm with brother Shayne. The sibling’s robust environmental stewardship and actions to demonstrate best farming practices were recognised last year when they were named the 2013 Northland Supreme Ballance Farm Environment Award winners.

This accolade was added to Charmaine’s previous successes as the Northland Sharemilker of the Year in 1993 and the North Island AC Cameron Award 1993.

In her spare time Charmaine contributes to improving the financial and business aspects of dairy farming performance through her involvement in industry-good projects such as DairyBase and presenting at local and national fieldays.

A graduate of the Agri-Women’s Development Trust (AWDT) Escalator Programme, Charmaine also fosters and encourages other dairy farming women to further develop their business leadership and governance skills and provides mentoring for dairy farming women in this area.

She was so inspired by the work of the AWDT she joined the Board as a Trustee in 2013 and was recently appointed to the role of Chair.

On being named Dairy Woman of the Year Charmaine said she would use the opportunity to continue her vision to improve the financial, environmental and social sustainability of the industry.

“I have a very practical leadership style which has evolved over the years through working with the rural industry in both my farming career and in my accounting practice. I’m looking forward to developing that in a corporate environment through the global women’s programme, and I’ll be embracing the opportunities that emerge as I complete the programme.”

O’Shea said she will continue to work full-time in her accounting practice in Whangarei, while brother Shayne manages their farm partnership. She said their business and farming skills are incredibly complementary. She said she milks cows whenever she can, which is usually on public holidays, “to keep it real”.

The judging panel for the Dairy Woman of the Year award was comprised of Michelle Wilson representing the Dairy Women’s Network; Faye Langdon managing director Global Women; Janette Rosanowski director leadership and talent Fonterra; Jenny Jago strategy and investment portfolio manager DairyNZ; and 2012 inaugural Dairy Woman of the Year award winner Barbara Kuriger.

The panel acknowledged Charmaine’s commitment to dairying which she demonstrates through her own continued professional development, as well as supporting and mentoring other women in the business of dairying.

“Charmaine demonstrates leadership in all aspects of her professional life. She is a champion for the environment. She is commercially savvy and successful in all her business interests, and she shares her expertise so that more women can undertake training and education about the business aspects of dairy farming for the benefit of the industry at national, regional and local levels.”

Mrs Wilson said now in its third year, the calibre of all entrants for the awards was exceptionally high.

Charmaine was nominated for the accolade alongside Fonterra Shareholders Council member and dairy farmer Julie Pirie from Hauraki, and Veterinarian and dairy farmer Joyce Voogt from the King Country.

Charmaine’s prize is a Fonterra-sponsored scholarship to the Global Women, Women in Leadership programme valued at $25,000. The programme will give her 12-months exposure to globally focussed women in leadership roles across the New Zealand business sector.

Fonterra MD Global Brands and Nutrition, Jacqueline Chow, said great leadership stands out and can come from anywhere at any level in an organisation or industry.

“Although many women in our industry have the ability to be fantastic leaders and are making a big difference in dairy farming, we want to especially celebrate those who are willing to really stand out from the rest - those who show clarity of direction, persevering shoulder to shoulder to make things happen, and creating the right environment for others around them to be successful,” said Chow.


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