Planning for the 2023 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards (NZDIA) is underway with national sponsors continuing to back the programme.
"There were a large number of entries across New Zealand and when I signed up I did not expect to be the national winner.
"There were a range of skills all the trainee finalists brought to the awards and I was lucky enough to be the one that came out on top fr the challenges we were judged on," he told Dairy News.
He is currently 2IC on Leighton and Michelle Pye's 242ha, 900-cow Mayfield property and will progress to a new role managing a 400-cow farm near Lauriston in the 2022-23 season.
For other Kiwis looking to dairying as a career, O'Connor says there are so many opportunities waiting to be taken and the outdoor lifestyle is great.
"I love aways being outdoors and with animals, every day is different and there's always something new to learn or and improve on the farm.
"Lots of great employers are out there who will help you gain the skills and knowledge you need to move up positions and the dairy industry has a great pathway to go from just starting out on-farm to owning your own business and potentially your own farm."
O'Connor says his employers Steve and Rosie Ketter have always answered any questions he had.
They have given him more responsibility as his knowledge and experience has grown.
"They have involved me in discussions with the farm consultant and other professionals who come on farm.
"Being exposed to that side of the farming business as well as the day-to-day tasks has been great.
"The high standards we work to ensure I do jobs properly and learn the correct way things should be done, which not only helped me in the competition but will also set my standards high in years to come."