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She is one of the first three business people singled out by the Gough family for the scholarship that will go towards course fees for a Master of Business Administration degree at the University of Canterbury.
The others are Simon Shelton, a senior project manager for the $344 million redevelopment of Scott Base in Antarctica, and Lane Neave chief financial officer Kirsty Tyro.
Mrs How grew up on her family’s mixed arable farm in Mid Canterbury and is based in Geraldine as a senior member of the solutions and development team for DairyNZ.
She has a bachelor of agriculture degree from Lincoln University and a Master of Arts in Spanish from Massey University with a Spanish-written thesis on New Zealand investment in southern Chile.
A summer was spent working at Kiwi-owned Manuka, which now has more than 50 farms.
Initially, she thought she wouldn’t have a "fighting chance" because of the calibre of people the scholarships would attract, but decided to apply anyway.
"I feel very privileged. I guess for me the motivation to study for an MBA is I know I have gaps and blind spots in my world perspective. It’s no secret we are in a period of rapid change in the food and fibre sector and I’m also conscious our sector can be an echo chamber for new ideas, so my decision to study is because I want to challenge myself and work with truly diverse people."
Previously, she worked as an agronomist for PGG Wrightson Seeds and has served on local and national advisory groups in the arable and deer industries.
At DairyNZ she works on sector strategy, looking to identify and present challenges that dairy farmers face in their businesses.
Mrs How said DairyNZ had been supportive of her desire to extend herself with part-time study at university.
She wanted to move towards governance in the future.
"We know leadership in our sector relies on good governance and having the right skillset and experience in these [boardroom] seats and that doesn’t happen overnight. This is a proactive step towards governance in the future."
Mrs How will be mentored by Phil Veal, co-founder of private investment company Business Syndication.
Business leader Ben Gough said the leadership scholarships would combine formal study with practical workshops, professional development courses and leadership mentoring.
“We look forward to introducing these three scholars to our network of contacts, seeing them flourish with the help of their mentors, and learn and grow from the challenge of their MBA studies.”