Canterbury farmer is the Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year

Jessie Chan-Dorman  Fonterra dairy woman of the year 2017

Jessie Chan-Dorman Fonterra dairy woman of the year 2017

The Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year Jessie Chan-Dorman just wants to give back to the industry which has given her so much.

The Rakaia dairy farmer and Fonterra shareholder councillor won the title out of a group of three finalists at an awards ceremony in Queenstown on Thursday.

"It sounds a bit cheesy but my motivation is just making a meaningful contribution."

Jessie Chan-Dorman is the Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year.

Jessie Chan-Dorman is the Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year.

Chan-Dorman is a director of the Ashburton Trading Society and a Fonterra shareholder representing farms in Rakaia. She is also on the Holstein Friesian New Zealand External Affairs committee and a member of the Institute of Directors and New Zealand Asian Leaders.

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Chan-Dorman got her first taste of the agricultural industry when working in a Dairy Research Industry laboratory after finishing high school. From there she headed to Massey University to do a degree in Animal Science, majoring in ruminent nutrition. 

Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year Jessie Chan-Dorman.

Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year Jessie Chan-Dorman.

Since then she's had many roles working within the agriculture industry, but meeting passionate dairy farmers as a policy advisor for Federated Farmers was one of her catalysts for becoming more involved in the dairy industry.

"I learnt a lot from those farmers."

Chan-Dorman was the first chairwoman of the Wellington Young Farmers' Club and it was through Young Farmers' she met her husband Hayden Dorman, who was at the time the chairman of the club's Tasman branch.

"The first time we lived together was when we went sharemilking [in Canterbury] and we thought that would either make us or break us."

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The pair complement one another, with Dorman in the more hands-on role with the cows, while Chan-Dorman plays to her own strengths, including governance roles.

Chan-Dorman said the award was a great step for her to continue role-modelling dairy leadership to her peers and those looking to come through the ranks.

"I see myself further influencing change by being involved at a governance or representation level in our cooperatives and advocating for the next generation to get involved in the industry with skin in the game."

Helping the next generation become more involved in the industry is partly why she plans to step down from the Mid-Canterbury Federated Farmers dairy executive.

Part of being a leader was knowing when it was time to let someone else through and have the opportunities she had throughout her career, she said.

While she said her four-year-old was likely to be the one getting her up in the morning, she was motivated by the variety involved in the agriculture industry - whether it be talking to a fertiliser representative or taking a conference call on national policy.

She wanted to know she was making a contribution to the community, even if it was the smallest difference, she would continue to be motivated, she said.

Dairy Women's Network chief executive Zelda de Villiers said Chan-Dorman was a worthy recipient of the title, citing her positive role modelling for others in the rural sector and her ability to work across all aspects of the dairy spectrum.

"Jessie's career over the past decade has seen her add extraordinary value to the business of dairy in New Zealand.

"She is unique in that she recognises that issues need representation from different perspectives and she's not afraid to have tough conversations."

At the awards Invercargill dairy farmer Katrina Thomas was named as this year's Dairy Women's Network Dairy Community Leadership award winner, winning the title out of a group of three nominees which included dairy farmers Alison Ferris, from Te Kuiti, and Cathy Prendergast, from Arohena in Waikato.


 - Stuff

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