Thursday, 05 May 2016 12:16

Outstanding dairy farmer scoops top award

Written by 
Rebecca Keoghan. Rebecca Keoghan.

Rebecca Keoghan's outstanding contribution to the dairy industry over the last decade has led to her being named the fifth Dairy Woman of the Year.

Keoghan, from Westport in the South Island, received the award at the Dairy Women's Network conference at Claudelands Event Centre tonight 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," says Keoghan who was nominated by one of her staff, farm manager Jack Raharuhi.

The mother of two is Landcorp business manager, 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 for 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, 4000 hectares and 2500 young stock provides an exciting challenge. This senior management role with Landcorp provides an excellent platform to combine my leadership and business skills within 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's 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, was managing medical laboratories in New Zealand 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, six, and Spencer, five.

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

"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. "Dairying is my life."

Keoghan is also a director of Buller Holdings Ltd, set up to provide a commercial focus in the governance and management of Buller District Council's commercial assets, and is a former chair of the West Coast Plunket Board.

"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 New Zealand in the New Zealand National Brass Band and toured China and Korea."

Dairy Woman of the Year Judge Alison Gibb described Keoghan as an extremely motivated, high performer with positive drive and passion who likes to take those around her with her.

"Rebecca is fully involved in her local community but knows exactly where she wants to head in the leadership space and is on her way. In particular she acknowledges that dairy is global and wants to know more about that space. Her particular passion is health and safety and believes safety leadership drives excellence."

Keoghan was one of three finalists shortlisted for the award. The other two were Central West Coast dairy farmer Renee Rooney and Waihi based LIC farm solution manager Michelle Wilson. Past winners are Katie Milne (2015), Charmaine O'Shea (2014), Justine Kidd (2013) and Barbara Kuriger (2012)

Dairy Woman's Network chief executive Zelda de Villiers says Keoghan is an exceptional woman who was a great ambassador for the dairy industry at every level.

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