Waipukurau's Bel Group business manager and new Dairy Woman of the Year, Justine Kidd, has influenced many in the 20 years since graduating with a Bachelor of Agricultural Science (honours) degree.
She started in the industry as a consulting officer for the Dairy Board, worked for the Dairy Research Corporation as a farm production scientist and went on to establish herself as a trainer of leadership, people and performance, and business strategy programmes.
Kidd was a founding director of Synlait, where she led the development of strategic planning, team development and human resource structures.
In 2003, she joined Equestrian Sports New Zealand and was soon promoted to CEO.
At the same time, in partnership with family members, she started Avance - a company designed to create a family farming asset by helping other farm businesses achieve their strategic goals.
She left Equestrian Sports New Zealand in 2007 to focus on Avance.
In 2008, the Bel Group contracted Avance to run its Hawke's Bay-based dairy operations.
The Bel Group has grown steadily and now employs more than 60 people milking 8600 cows on nine dairy farms in Central Hawke's Bay.
"I always knew Justine was a superstar - she thoroughly deserves this accolade," Bel director Andrea Barry says.
The judging panel says Kidd is a great leader.
"Justine aspires to inspire those she works with and believes leadership is demonstrated by inspiring others and leading by example."
Kidd is not about to rest on her laurels.
She says the future is "very exciting", thanks to the proposed Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme, which she says is being "very well planned and managed" by the Hawke's Bay Regional Council.
"We have definitely got to look to the next 50 to 100 years," she says.
Just two of Bel's farms are in the scheme's area, but with farms in the district intensifying through irrigation, "That will provide opportunities for everyone."
She says Bel takes up most of her time but her company has other clients.
When Hawke's Bay Today spoke to Kidd she was in Taupo presenting two one-day conferences for DairyNZ on farm governorship - one for corporate farmers and the other for families.
She says corporatisation of the industry is not inevitable.
"I really believe in the role of the family business - it is the backbone of the New Zealand economy."
Competing in dressage is her rest and recreation and the Hawke's riding world is benefiting from her governorship skills - she has been appointed to the company running the Horse of the Year Show.
The award was presented last week at a gala dinner held by the Dairy Women's Network in Nelson.