Leadership starts with self for the 2018 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year Loshni Manikam.
After 20 years of life in rural New Zealand Loshni Manikam has a real insight of the Kiwi agricultural psyche. “I believe there’s this huge gap,” Manikam says. “I feel like farming people know how to care about land, stock, neighbours – everything except themselves and I want to help change this.”
Manikam and her husband Donald Kidd are equity partners and lower-order sharemilkers on a 600-cow farm near Winton.
In 2007 they won the Southland Sharemilker of the Year title before they became equity partners. And last year she was named Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year and received a $20,000 scholarship for approved professional and personal development training.
At the time of winning she said receiving the title was proof the success of an ordinary dairy farming woman can translate far and wide.
“It shows you can raise a family and still progress, reach the top and have a say at industry level.
“I’m passionate about creating change by working alongside industry leaders and farming communities. I think it’s important to first build relationships and understand each group’s drivers before collaborating for change and I hope winning this award will allow a few more doors to open to allow that to keep happening.”
Manikam credits her success to Kidd as the major influence in her professional life with people like Lindy Nelson from the Agri Women’s Development Trust being instrumental in facilitating her development.
“There have been people from the Dairy Women’s Network who have tapped me on the shoulder and encouraged me to step up,” she says. “Organisations like the Dairy Industry Awards and Fonterra have created opportunities for my growth and I will be forever grateful.”
In October she used part of her bursary to attend a five-day training event in San Francisco by one of the world’s most popular purveyors of the art of creating online training, Brendon Burchard.
She has been doing Burchard’s online training so seeing him live was a brilliant buzz as well as seeing the confidence of Americans more inclined to just do it rather than wasting time worrying about failing – an important distinction she would like to see transferred to the NZ primary sector.
Manikam specialises in leadership development in the primary sector because of her conviction people are key to the sector’s continued success. Her rationale is that unlocking potential has benefits for individuals, farming businesses, communities and the sector.
Through a philosophy of self-leadership she helps women develop a stronger sense of personal identity and what they need to be happier. She finds self-leadership invaluable as a way for women to practice reflection and develop a clearer and more confident sense of self.
As well as running her online courses, farming and caring for her family, Manikam is a trustee of the Southern Dairy Development Trust, the founding director of Iceberg Coaching and coach and facilitator of the Agri-Women’s Development Trust Escalator Programme. She has been involved in Southland Federated Farmers and worked for DairyNZ.
Entries to a national award that recognises dairy farmers who demonstrate leadership in their approach to sustainable dairying and who are ambassadors for the industry are now open.