Tuesday, 10 May 2016 13:27

Love motivates top award winner

Written by  Pam Tipa
2016 Dairy Woman of the Year, Rebecca Keoghan. 2016 Dairy Woman of the Year, Rebecca Keoghan.

"What I do in dairying I do for love – I don't need any recognition for it," says the 2016 Dairy Woman of the Year, Rebecca Keoghan.

But the West Coast farmer and Landcorp business manager says she is very thankful for it.

"Without Dairy Womens Network and Fonterra we wouldn't have this award programme and I am extremely honoured and humbled to be the recipient this year," she said at the awards night in Hamilton last Wednesday. "This is an amazing opportunity, something I never ever expected would come to me."

She joked that she didn't know how she would get the bouquet home on a seven-seat plane.

Keoghan, from Westport, received the award at the Dairy Women's Network conference at Claudelands Event Centre on May 4 after being selected by a panel that included judges from the Dairy Women's Network, Fonterra, Global Women and Ballance Agri-Nutrients.

She wins a $30,000 place on the 11-month Global Women Breakthrough Leaders programme sponsored by Fonterra.

"My passion and drive for dairying is in all aspects of my life," said Keoghan, who was nominated by one of her staff, farm manager Jack Raharuhi.

The mother of two is a Landcorp business manager, a Westland Milk Products director, NZ Dairy Industry Awards Dairy Manager of the Year Award team leader, OSPRI northern South Island committee member and Keoghan Farm director with her husband Nathan.

At Landcorp Keoghan has overall strategic leadership and direction of five large dairy farms, a dairy support farm and a machinery syndicate at Cape Foulwind and the Grey Valley.

"Leading and inspiring 55 staff along with quality production across 5000 dairy cows, 4000ha and 2500 young stock provides an exciting challenge," she says. "This senior management role with Landcorp provides an excellent platform to combine my leadership and business skills in the industry I am fiercely passionate about."

Keoghan loves the challenges of leadership and governance at Westland in what she calls "this exciting and challenging time of changing economies, milk prices and industry movement".

She is involved in the NZ Dairy Industry Awards because she has a passion for helping her colleagues celebrate their successes and assist in the development of young farmers.

Before moving to the Keoghan Farm in 2006, Keoghan, a medical science graduate, managed medical laboratories in NZ and Australia.

"The move to the Coast kick-started my passion for dairy as my husband Nathan and I purchased our family farm to be proud fifth generation dairy farmers," Keoghan says.

"The move home also brought about my change in career from medical science to cement and dairying. I was operations manager for Holcim [cement plant] for eight years while studying for an Advanced Business Management diploma and an International Institute for Management Development (IMD) leadership diploma from Switzerland."

The couple have two children: Amelie (6) and Spencer (5).

The Keoghans have won the Westland Dairy Awards for the most production from pasture three times in the past five years.

"Our system change in this 2016 season to once-a-day milking all season, to combat the challenges associated with milk prices, has proven successful," Keoghan says.

Keoghan is also a director of Buller Holdings Ltd – set up to give a commercial focus to the governance and management of Buller District Council's commercial assets – and she was chair of the West Coast Plunket board.

"Dairying is my life. My spare time revolves around milking cows, spending time with my family swimming and biking and attending the many interests the children hold in dancing, rugby and music," Keoghan says.

"I also enjoy pursuing my passion for music. As a member of the Westport Brass Band, I love playing trombone along with my husband and mentoring junior members of the band.

In addition, I play as a professional percussionist with Auckland and Blenheim 'A' grade brass bands and in 2014 was fortunate enough to be selected to represent NZ in the NZ National Brass Band and toured China and Korea."

Dairy Woman of the Year judge Alison Gibb describes Keoghan as an extremely motivated high performer with positive drive and passion.

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