Nancy Crawshaw awarded the Zanda McDonald Award

Nancy Crawshaw has been announced as the 2024 New Zealand winner of the Zanda McDonald Award.

In the days that followed the announcement of this prestigious award a common thread of conversation amongst her colleagues was “isn’t it great when good things happen to humble people”. There was a unifying pride amongst the staff, directors and breeders who have come to know Nancy and almost no-one was at all surprised.

The Zanda McDonald Award is a highly prestigious award and yet perhaps less well known that some other significant programs or awards. The award was named after Zanda McDonald who was a prominent identity in the Australian beef and livestock industry and was proud to be a farmer who worked tirelessly to encourage young people to work in the industry that he loved. He died in April 2013 at the age of 41, following a tragic accident on his Queensland cattle property.

In 2014, in honour of Zanda, the networking group led by Shane McManaway launched The Zanda McDonald Award. The group, now known as the Zanda Mentoring Group (ZMG), has evolved into a collective of over 150 of Australasia’s top rural leaders. This impressive network of top industry mentors throughout Australasia is accessible to award finalists and winners. The Award recognises young people working in the primary industry sectors in New Zealand and Australia and supports their future career development.

In early 2022, Shane was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit [MNZM] for his agriculture and community services. Shane founded the Zanda McDonald Award in 2014 and for over 16 years was a CEO for Allflex Livestock Intelligence in Asia-Pacific and China. Shane believes the key to success lies in forming strong relationships and encouraging others to exceed expectations.

When Nancy was announced as a finalist for the Zanda McDonald Award, I wanted to dig into why someone would apply and what made their application unique. The answers to these questions in reflection help understand why Nancy was eventually selected and provided lessons for each one of us across the breed.

Nancy holds this statement as her guiding philosophy, “Agriculture success depends on the people.”

It’s an important idea which we are all well aware of and it is probably close to many people’s heart. The difference between many and Nancy, is that she applied for the Zanda McDonald Award in order to be able to use that opportunity to encourage others and to add value to the next generation. To quote Nancy “How do they get a foot in the door?” referring to young people but especially those without an agricultural background and certainly those without a farm to return home to.

Before working for Angus Australia Nancy was a team leader with Teys Australia in Naracoorte, South Australia. From her time working with a range of people in a variety of positions she has developed this core ideology.

“A team’s success is reliant on the development and training of the people within it. A good team start’s where no individual is more important than the team, from manager to floor boy everyone had a role to play as without each team member doing their bit the team won’t function to its highest capability. If you work on investing in your team and upskilling each individual the business KPI’s will take care of themselves. When people grow, the business success will take care of itself.”

She said that her experience as team leader at Teys was living proof of the power of nurturing. “How do we get the best out of people?

“Nurturing and developing skillsets to grow the team’s self-confidence. When you are happy both inside and outside of work, you will work better to meet your career and personal goals. When people are motivated and believe in the team goals, everything works better. If you give someone a difficult job, as a leader you’re responsible for providing team members with the tools to succeed, if they don’t succeed the leader is responsible for it”.

Following her time at Teys, Nancy joined the Angus Australia extension team. This role enables her to help farmers make more money from their businesses. It allows her to be immersed in the Angus breed, however she says that the “Angus family” is much bigger than that! She has received a huge number of congratulatory messages, even from Scotland.

One of Nancy’s mantra’s is, “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable, because that is where the growth takes place.”

Nancy would like to use this Award and experience to help others, to encourage other young people to step out into agriculture and to take those difficult decisions and first steps. Already Nancy is a natural mentor to many others, and this award will only accelerate the journey.

I think the most pleasing aspect of Nancy’s success is that she is more concerned about the success of others than she is for own success. Never one for the spotlight, often we receive messages saying thank you from our breeders when she helps on farm or speaks. As a team, we see her get beside other young people to encourage and suggest a change. As a CEO, I find one of the most interesting character traits is that Nancy has an ability to speak into someone’s life without causing offence but rather in a way that encourages growth.

The award gives Nancy a tailored program of travel, where participants are exposed to a diverse range of perspectives, innovative practices, and networking opportunities.

These trips offer participants an unparalleled opportunity to expand their knowledge base. By engaging with industry experts, visiting leading agricultural enterprises, and participating in workshops and seminars, young leaders gain profound insights into the latest trends, technologies, and practices. This exposure to a multitude of perspectives enables them to challenge their preconceived notions and deepen their understanding of the agricultural sector.

The mentoring trip also plays a pivotal role in the development of leadership skills among the participants. Through interactions with industry leaders, they gain firsthand experience of effective leadership styles and strategies. They witness how successful leaders navigate challenges, inspire their teams, and propel organisational growth.

One of the most significant advantages of the Zanda McDonald Award Mentoring Trip is the opportunity to establish invaluable connections within the agricultural industry. Participants have the chance to network with industry leaders, fellow award recipients, and potential mentors.

For those thinking of applying in future, to be eligible for the award, you must be between the ages of 21 – 35 years (as of 31 August) and working in agribusiness in Australia or New Zealand.

Nancy says,“At every stage of the selection process right from the first written application you will learn something from being involved in this process. Anyone who has thought about it should definitely apply as the learning through the entire process are really beneficial for anyone who is passionate about agriculture.”

The visions for Zanda finalists and winners are simple:

  • Learn – from successful leaders and peers
  • Network – with the best in trans-Tasman agriculture
  • Experience – first-hand through a tailored mentoring programme
  • Grow – your capabilities, for personal and professional development

While this article is about Nancy, we’d like to congratulate an exceptional group of finalists and the Australian winner, Tessa Chartres from Deniliquin. Nancy made the comment about her fellow finalists,”All the finalists are doing incredible things in their respective areas of agriculture, we’re lucky to have them in our industry where they will add value for years to come.”

We congratulate Nancy across the breed and wish her every success through the next twelve months.

– Scott Wright CEO Angus Australia