Inspiring leaders within the Trust demonstrate Women’s Day spirit

March 7, 2023

Image Caption: Simone Sharp, Keystone Trust alumni chair, New Zealand practice lead of project management and technical director at global infrastructure consultancy AECOM

A reminder to celebrate women’s achievements and our capacity to promote gender equality, March 8th is International Women’s Day, and Keystone Trust is proud to look to its network for some of the country’s finest female-led inspiration.

“International Women’s Day for the trust is an opportunity to champion and advocate for women.

“It’s also about equality and removing the obstacles which stand in the way of achievement. At Keystone, we mirror these values by supporting tomorrow’s property and construction leaders and are proud to back these exceptional young professionals based on talent and tenacity rather than gender identity,” says Amanda Stanes, general manager of Keystone Trust.

The global event celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women while staunchly advocating for gender equality and female empowerment.

The theme for 2023 is ‘Choose to Challenge’ which highlights the importance of challenging gender biases and inequality to create a more inclusive world for all.

Ms Stanes says the last few years have impacted women significantly, particularly during the pandemic.

Recent findings highlight the inequalities they still face in many areas of life, including access to health services, education, employment and support rejoining the workforce following childbirth.

“This year’s International Women’s Day is an opportunity to recognise some of the obstacles women faced during the pandemic and recommit to achieving equality for all.

“I am so proud of the dedicated support we receive from our sponsorship partners, who share our common values of achieving gender parity, without which Keystone Trust would not be able to boast a current student cohort which is 43 percent female.

“This is particularly astounding in a traditionally male-dominated field, demonstrated by just 13 percent of participants in the New Zealand construction sector identifying as female.

“We are further delighted to note three of our sponsors – JLL, Russell McVeigh and Simplicity – have committed to the ‘Mind the Gap’ registry, New Zealand’s first elective registry for ethnic and gender pay gap reporting,” Ms Stanes says.

The history of International Women’s Day dates back to the early 1900s when women in many parts of the world were fighting for their rights, including the right to vote, better working conditions, and equal pay.

Today, more than 100 countries celebrate the cause with various events and activities that promote gender equality, pay parity, and raise awareness of women’s issues whilst honouring their achievements.

Keystone Trust alumni chair, New Zealand practice lead of project management and technical director at global infrastructure consultancy AECOM, Simone Sharp says these efforts provide a springboard for growth, and she is thrilled to see women continue to shine in workplaces across New Zealand.

“At Keystone, our alumni network is 42 percent female – that’s women supporting women into achievement through mentorship, friendship and professional support.

“As a 2006 scholarship recipient, I know the true value of this comradery, the foundational benefits an inclusive environment creates for students and the doors this opens for them.

“In addition, the trust is proud to work with a selection of women-led businesses. We champion those created by our alumnae, including Julia Mercer, who runs Elbow Architects and Sam McGavock, director at DONE Project Planning & Delivery,” she says.

Reflecting on the challenges she faced as a mother and new business owner of her boutique firm Elbow Architects, 2007 Keystone Trust Key Scholarship recipient Julia Mercer says the support she receives through the trust is invaluable.

“Young architects, especially women, continue to face challenges, and I am proud to be a part of the wave of change that’s seeing the diversified workforce reach their professional potential, with the aid of organisations like Keystone Trust, its sponsorship partners and mentors.

“Giving young people a leg up and a pathway to succeed, regardless of gender, initiates a trickle-down effect for the industry, society, and the entire economy. Investing in skills will help New Zealand to retain brilliant minds, and giving these minds the confidence to innovate is hugely beneficial for productivity and innovation,” she says


For further media enquiries, please contact

Amanda Stanes
Keystone Trust – General Manager
M: 021 689 380

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