Thomas Macdonald, 24 year old Business Manager of Waikato-based Spring Sheep Milk Company, and Sir Don Llewellyn scholar, has scooped the 2018 Zanda McDonald Award.
The award, regarded as a prestigious badge of honour by the agribusiness industry, recognises agriculture's most innovative young professionals from Australia and New Zealand.
It was launched in 2014 in memory of Australian beef industry leader Zanda McDonald, who died aged 41 after an accident at his Queensland property in 2013.
Now in its fourth year, the award is run by the Platinum Primary Producers (PPP) Group - a network of over 150 of Australasia's influential agri-business men and women, of which Zanda McDonald was a foundation member.
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Thomas Macdonald was initially shortlisted with six other candidates, after the award attracted the largest number of applicants received so far.
Following interviews in Auckland in November, Macdonald was named as a finalist alongside fellow kiwi Lisa Kendall, 25 year old owner/operator of Nurture Farming Ltd and vice-chair of the Franklin Young Farmers Club, and Australian Janet Reddan 33, former agronomist now cattle producer from Roma, Queensland.
The award, sponsored by Allflex, Rabobank and Pilatus, was presented last night in Taupo at the annual PPP Conference. Macdonald receives a prize package valued at $50,000, which includes a trans-Tasman mentoring trip to farming operations and businesses, a place on one of Rabobank's Business Management Programs and $1,000 cash prize.
Macdonald will travel by a Pilatus PC-12 aircraft to parts of his Australian mentoring trip, enabling him to reach diverse and remote farming operations.
Mr Macdonald said he was thrilled to have been chosen, and is particularly excited about the opportunity to get direct access to the wealth of knowledge that exists within the PPP group's membership.
"It's a real privilege to win the 2018 award, and I'm humbled to be associated with Zanda's name. I'm looking forward to spending time with some of agriculture's top business professionals, and expanding my horizons and networks.
Shane McManaway, Chairman of the PPP Group, says: "Thomas is a remarkable young man. To have achieved as much as he has in 24 years is quite something, and a great credit to him. His intelligence, understanding of agriculture and big-picture thinking make him well placed as a future leader in our industry. I feel confident that Thomas will embrace the mentoring opportunities provided by winning the Zanda McDonald Award, and look forward to seeing his career progress".