From the West Coast of the South Island to heading an inner-city Sydney office

May 20, 2024

It’s a long way from being a ‘bush kid’ on the West Coast of the South Island to heading an inner-city Sydney office, but that’s where Steve Bushby has landed.

“The Keystone network helped me access a wide range of opportunities that I would never have had access to otherwise. Life has been much more adventurous as a result.”

The former Greymouth High School student is director, portfolio management, at Urban Bio – a boutique urban consultancy company which works with investors and owners of large property portfolios to maximise their operations. It’s a business Steve established himself.

Few at his high school pursued a university education, but he decided to study valuation and property management at Lincoln University. “The Coast had very strong primary industry employment opportunities  – but much of the local primary industry was being shuttered as I approached the end of high school. Keystone came on my radar at a very opportune time.”

It also introduced him to a life never before experienced. He’d never been on a plane before flying to Auckland for his interview, for starters. “The nerves from sitting in the little 20-seater as it took off over the Tasman to get enough height to make it back over the Alps took the edge off the nerves of the interview process.”

Neither of his parents had a tertiary education, but Steve did not struggle with his studies. He also managed to mix them with a slew of sporting pursuits, which he had excelled in at school. The champion badminton player from those days has now turned to mountain running and ultra-running, recently finishing 10th in the Australian Mountain Running Championships (he clocked 59:32 in the 11-kilometre section).

Back in the days at Greymouth High, he had a physics teacher called Rob Hughes who also supervised the school’s Stock Market Challenge (some 800 teams around the country participated), which Steve was deeply involved in.  Mr Hughes wrote a letter supporting Steve’s Keystone application, and made a very telling observation. “Steven had an investment style similar in many ways to his personality – that is considered, well-planned and researched.” Steve and his team did very well in the competition  in both years they played, the teacher added.

That observation from all those years ago now strikes Steve as both touching and spot-on. “He nailed it,” he says – adding that he probably did physics for a lot longer because he admired and respected that particular teacher. He also remembers other key players who played a pivotal role in his earlier life, including Gordon Cairney from Brookfield Multiplex and Ann Robertson from Westfield Australia and New Zealand. Both were superb mentors to the new university student. (And in the strangest of coincidences, Ann also went to Greymouth High.) His first post-grad job was with Brookfield – a post he got offered while still at university.

Ten years later, when he moved to Sydney, one of his first points of call was to look up fellow Keystoners. He ended up being hired by a fellow leading light – Lloyd Budd – in the urban regeneration team at Lendlease. This is a true illustration of Keystone’s reach.  “We were slightly  outside the geographical area but it’s still a network that pays dividends.” Steve’s career  has also taken him further abroad: including Hamburg on placement for a green investment fund and self-funding a social infrastructure build in Myanmar.

In the last 18 months, his company has ventured into the establishment of affordable and key worker housing as an investable asset class for super funds and institutional investors. This nexus of meeting investor returns, while also achieving societal good is what drives him.

Many of his achievements, both in work and personally, have been enabled by his grant of 2003, Steve says. “The Keystone network helped me access a wide range of opportunities that I would never have had access to otherwise. Life has been much more adventurous as a result.” It’s a sentence he would offer as advice to his younger self.

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