02 August 2017
The runners-up of the 2017 New Zealand Share Farmer of the Year Award believe the earlier potential entrants begin preparing for the awards, the better, and they should be starting now.
Entries for the 2018 New Zealand Dairy Awards open in October, and Carlos and Bernice Delos Santos say gathering information and records takes time, and now is a good time to start this if they haven’t already.
“Because we entered several times in the Share Farmer of the Year competition, we can differentiate the amount of preparation we did from when we didn't make it, to when we became finalist to 3rd place and then becoming the regional winner,” explains Bernice. “When we won the regional title this year, the planning started soon after the previous award dinner. We said to ourselves, we want to win next year, so subconsciously, everything we were doing was leading up to the presentation for the next year’s awards”.
The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards encompass the Share Farmer of the Year, Dairy Manager of the Year and Dairy Trainee of the Year competitions and are supported by national sponsors Westpac, DairyNZ, DeLaval, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra Farm Source, Honda Motorcycles, LIC, Meridian Energy and Ravensdown, along with industry partner Primary ITO.
Carlos arrived in New Zealand in 2001 with Bernice immigrating in 2007 and say gaining employment within the dairy industry was difficult in the beginning. “I remember sending CV's to a lot of jobs but without experience at the time, I wasn't getting much of a reply,” explains Carlos. “When I did, during a phone interview, I couldn't quite converse in English which I found very frustrating”.
Perseverance paid off, and the couple have worked their way through the industry, with Carlos a joint winner of the 2007 East Waikato Dairy Trainee of the Year. The couple are now 50/50 sharemilkers and won the 2017 Central Plateau Share Farmer of the Year, also collecting four merit awards and went on to be named the 2017 Runners-up New Zealand Share Farmers of the Year in May, as well as winning the Ecolab Dairy Hygiene Award.
They believe the awards and recognition helped them to be more confident. “Having those titles certainly makes a difference on our CV,” say the couple. “Entering the competition also made us review and scrutinize our management system and make necessary changes to make sure we do the best practice in all aspect of our business.”
The Delos Santos New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards journey has been extremely positive. “We wanted to get our name out there for future employment possibilities and to get our story out there,” explains Carlos. “We were overwhelmed by the amount of publicity that this competition brings”.
Carlos and Bernice believe they are living proof the dairy industry provides opportunities for everyone if they work hard, as that is what they have done over the years. “When you start with nothing, it's always hard and difficult but when you get the ball rolling, it somehow gets easier,” says Bernice. “It still requires hard work and sacrifices but with the experiences we encounter, we learn different things, and different ways to cope with difficulties”.
The Delos Santos don’t believe there is any secret to their success. They have continually analysed the bigger picture and learnt not to worry about the small stuff. “All we've done over the years is to try and improve whether that's from farm management, financial management, people management and so forth.’
“We have met a lot of people from entering the Awards, from previous winners to the finalists and winners this year, as well as other contacts within the dairy industry that we wouldn't have been able to do if we hadn't entered the competition.”
The couple have some simple but sound advice for those just starting out in the industry: “Learn as much as you can, gain those qualifications, look after your reputation and save as much as you can.”
“Without a doubt, winning the regional competition, as well as runner-up in the national competition, is something I am most proud of,” says Carlos. “I used to just dream of winning the regional title when I was still a worker, wondering how long it will take me to get there. It seemed like forever waiting for this moment but now I can tick it off as one of my accomplishment.
Entries for the 2018 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards open in October. More information can be found at www.dairyindustryawards.co.nz