Our Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year?

Claire Nicholson. Supplied photo.

A Tauranga woman described as ‘successful yet so down to earth' is in the running to take out the 2017 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year Award.

A qualified veterinarian, Dr Claire Nicholson is the Chief Executive of Sirona Animal Health, a company she set up to develop and promote unique products that address current areas of economic loss in the dairy and sheep and beef industries.

She's also a director of Paraninihi Ki Waitotara (PKW), past associate director for AgResearch and has worked with Massey University researching the epidemiology and economic cost of Neospora.

Her family farms are in Gropers Bush, Southland.

Her nominator, Sirona Animal Health employee Courtney Moskios, says Claire constantly advocates continued education for her staff, and is an innovative and intelligent leader.

“Claire wants everyone to succeed,” says Courtney. “She encourages her staff and those around her to reach their own goals, and she is the most genuine boss I've ever had.

“And she cares about the farming industry. She grew up farming and genuinely wants to help farmers be more productive, make a difference to their bottom line and contribute to the success of New Zealand's agricultural industry.”

Claire's first job out of university was as a veterinarian with a later focus on animal health and ruminant nutrition. She launched several products into New Zealand, including Metricheck, a diagnostic tool for metritis; Bovilis BVD, the first vaccination against BVD with foetal protection and animal health training modules for farmers and their staff using the Rumenx system. With Sirona Animal Health she developed the Alpheus anti-parasitic capsule – the first controlled release anthelmintic for cattle with a primer.

As a director for PKW she wrote the Maori business strategy for DairyNZ and actively works to improve Maori agribusiness.

Claire says if she were to win the Dairy Woman of the Year title it would be a huge boost for women in dairy business and governance.

“In the agricultural, animal health and meat industries very few women make it to senior management level, on to boards or own businesses associated with those industries.

“I would like to hope that I encourage and support other women to give it a go and aim high to reach their full potential. Sirona has a team that is 85% women, and all very experienced in the sector. I aim to encourage and provide the support required for them to reach their goals – even those they thought were unattainable.”

The Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year will be named at an awards evening on May 11 during the Dairy Women's Network's conference in Queenstown. The winner will receive a scholarship prize of up to $20,000 to undertake a professional/business development programme.

The other 2017 finalists are Jessie Chan-Dorman, a Fonterra Shareholders Councillor and Ashburton Trading Society Director from Canterbury, and Jolene Germann, an agribusiness consultant from Southland.


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