Mrs Hay received the award at a function in Dunedin this week, while Allied Press chief financial officer Gerold Borrmann was named runner-up.
A director of the North Otago Irrigation Company and a board member of Meat the Need, a farmer-founded charity that provides mince and milk to food banks and community organisations, Mrs Hay also runs the Herbert farm with husband Ross and their three children.
Prior to doing the Agri-Women’s Development Trust’s Escalator programme, Mrs Hay, a trained school teacher, had always been interested in governance but did not know much about it and what a pathway could be.
It provided an opportunity to make a positive difference for businesses and communities.
She was "hugely passionate" about the primary sector and the communities within it.
"For our communities to be flourishing, our businesses must be strong. I want the businesses and organisations I am involved with to be sustainable for a long time into the future. There are many ways that an individual can influence; however, for me, it fits well to influence at a strategic level," she said.
Mr and Mrs Hay were also finalists in this year’s Otago Daily Times-Rural Life Year of the Farmer for their efforts in making their community a better place to live, while also farming in an economically, environmentally and socially sustainable way.
IoD Otago Southland branch chairwoman Trish Oakley said Mrs Hay demonstrated a commitment to governance education and engaging with mentoring to support her professional development.
She had a well formulated plan of what she wanted to achieve and was putting steps in place to get there, Ms Oakley said.
Mrs Hay received a 12 month mentorship with IoD chartered fellow and experienced professional director Sarah Ottrey, complimentary IoD membership for 12 months and $1500 towards professional development.
Mr Borrmann, who is an adviser and member of the advisory board for the Dunedin Craft Distillers — which has upcycled more than 8,500kg of bread and bakery surplus into spirits — and a trustee for the Wellness Gym Charitable Trust, received a 12 month mentorship with IoD chartered fellow Susie Johnstone.