A Northland woman among three finalists for the 2014 Dairy Woman of the Year Award is helping train other women to take on leadership roles in agricultural organisations.

Whangarei farm accountant and 2013 Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards supreme award winner Charmaine O'Shea is vying for the Dairy Woman of the Year Award with Waikato veterinarian Joyce Voogt and Hauraki Plains farmer Julie Pirie. They were individually interviewed by a judging panel consisting of Dairy Women's Network Trust Board chairwoman Michelle Wilson, Global Women managing director Faye Langdon, Fonterra leadership and talent director Janette Rosanowski, DairyNZ strategy and investment portfolio manager Jenny Jago and 2012 Dairy Woman of the Year award winner Barbara Kuriger. This year's winner will be announced at the Dairy Women's Network annual conference in Hamilton on March 19.

The award includes a scholarship to the 10-month Women in Leadership Programme delivered by Global Women, valued at $25,000.

O'Shea is a chartered accountant specialising in farm accounting, and an equity partner in a Maungatapere dairy farm with her brother, Shayne, with whom she won the Ballance Farm Environment Award. She was Northland Sharemilker of the Year and won the North Island AC Cameron Award with former husband Grant Billington in 1993. For seven years she was a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants' primary sector committee, which made submissions to the IRD on issues affecting the primary sector.


She is a graduate of the Agri Women's Development Trust's Escalator programme, and this year she joined the trust board to encourage other dairy women in leadership roles.

Two Kaipara women - Libby Jones of Paparoa and Penny Smart of Dargaville - and a dozen other graduates from the Escalator programme last year has brought the total number of graduates to 39 since the programme began in 2010. Created to increase participation rates of New Zealand women at leadership and governance levels, Escalator teaches skills to lead agricultural organisations and communities.