At no time in recent history have economic hurdles, barriers to entry and a global health crisis posed such formidable challenges for young people navigating professional pursuits.
These circumstances underscore the true value of efforts undertaken by mentors and volunteers across Keystone Trust’s charitable network, whose contributions can be the difference between flourishing or falling out for students navigating an increasingly demanding corporate landscape.
Supporting young people to reach their true potential is about so much more than simply financial aid, says Keystone Trust General Manager Amanda Stanes.
“Of course, students facing financial hardship require funding for tuition, materials and accommodation, but often the most meaningful component is the support they receive from someone who has been there and done that,” she says.
Since its inception in 1995, the trust has supported more than 250 students in their academic endeavours. At the same time, trustees and management have developed a finely-tuned guidance programme which creates a forum for students to develop vital skills, confidence and knowledge with the support of industry volunteers.
Once focused on developing the mentorship skills of these leaders, 2023 has been the first year mentees also received formal guidance through a training module with the trust – sending the powerful message that students are ultimately in the driver’s seat regarding their futures.
This year, during Te Wiki Tūao ā-Motu-National Volunteer Week (18 – 24 June), the trust would like to champion the tireless work of mentors across the network, who make such a valuable and positive contribution to young people’s lives.
Dr Lesley Petersen – Mentoring Specialist, Lesley Petersen Consulting
All roads lead back to a life of service for Keystone Trust’s mentoring specialist and formal training advisor Dr Lesley Petersen. Following a career in education, a natural affinity for people helped her to identify the productive benefits of fostering more supportive professional communities.
Backed by some three decades in the industry, she now heads Lesley Petersen Consulting, which counts Universities, Government entities and a variety of multinational corporate clients, including Keystone Trust, amongst her client base.
Whilst her work helps organisations to grow careers and foster growth through guidance and wellbeing, she says true mentors can’t be made – they are created with a depth of caring for others that drives their purpose.
Founded on the principles of curiosity, accountability and investment, she says the ultimate reward is watching the mentee becoming the mentor, a full-circle movement she’s witnessed in her work with Keystone Trust.
“With a progressed mentorship programme, we are seeing the fruits of labour ripen at the trust, which includes students who have received mentor support returning to volunteer their time and help another student to thrive.
“It’s the ultimate accolade for the trust and the valuable work it does, for the benefactors to recognise such profound advantages and willingly return to invest in one another.”
Richard (Arch) Archbold – Principal Architect, Warren & Mahoney
As an industry veteran and trust supporter, Arch has witnessed the intimidating level of young talent emerging out of the pandemic haze and shares his genuine enthusiasm about the opportunity to grow alongside them.
He is deliberate in his praise for Keystone students and their personal acumen, citing the opportunity to relieve certain cynicisms and learn from a generation who have come of age informed by technology, climate change, diversity and inclusion.
“It’s a privilege to share their worldview, and I see my role more as corralling talent. We wind them up and set them off, sharing this wonderful opportunity to support and celebrate the students’ successes while helping to find solutions to their disappointments.
At Warren & Mahoney, Arch has been instrumental in implementing formal and informal mentoring opportunities, noting that leadership emphasising connection allows the entire business to grow.
“Leadership opportunities within the business come in various shapes and forms. In a project context, individuals mightn’t have the opportunity to develop their interpersonal skills the same way they would by leading a team or providing support for a junior team member,” he says.
Arch, who is Keystone Trust’s 2021 Outstanding Mentor Award winner, is now in his third year mentoring 2019 Study Award recipient and Bachelor of Architecture/Bachelor of Music student Eden, of whom the admiration is obvious.
“The pandemic was a horrendous time for people the world over, but particularly students, and to have the opportunity to navigate this challenge with Eden and see her move from strength to strength had been a reward all to itself,” he says.
“What I have gained from mentoring far outweighs any sacrifice in time and effort, and I see the true benefits of this for businesses and society every day,” he says.
Graeme Fletcher – Regional Business Line Director, AECOM ANZ
Through his multinational work with leading infrastructure firm AECOM and as a mentor with Keystone Trust, Graeme Fletcher has vast exposure to the hardships facing young people and remains committed to bridging the gap created by cultural misunderstanding.
“The cost of doing business now is understanding your people, their cultures and world view. Principals of Te Kāinga Māori, Polynesian values and those of Australia’s First Nations people continue to inform our business practices and shape how I see society.
“From supportive business policy which includes mentorship and leadership opportunities, we better understand our people and what makes them tick – enhancing productivity and creating a more inclusive, positive working environment for all,” says the 2020 Keystone Trust Outstanding Mentor award winner.
Through his work with the trust, Graeme became a mentor for first-generation University attendee and Study Award recipient Rose, who faced particularly isolating challenges during the pandemic.
He says this was an immense opportunity for his interpersonal development, with the chance to provide support and guidance during such a difficult time transformative for his understanding of people and the way organisations can work together to overcome obstacles.
“Once you see the level of hardship some people face, you can’t possibly look away, so it becomes imperative to use our professional influence for good. Through industry knowledge, connections, or just an open ear, we can change the trajectory of people’s lives, producing positive outcomes with far-reaching personal, societal and economic benefits,” he says.
Amanda Greenwood – Group General Counsel, Russell Group
With more than 20 years of experience as a construction, engineering and property lawyer, Amanda Greenwood is no stranger to the challenges and opportunities for young women in the industry, encouraging her to jump at the chance to give back.
“I find it really energising,” she says of her mentor/mentee relationship with Keystone Trust Study Award recipient and Bachelor of Engineering student Melika.
Cutting her professional teeth in corporate environments which were often male-oriented, Greenwood is particularly interested in supporting young women to thrive, noting the more diverse an industry becomes – the better equipped it is to respond to both opportunity and risk.
“Starting out as a young lawyer, family networks played a key role in opportunities received, and there’s huge value in organisations like Keystone Trust which can turn this around, giving students which might otherwise not receive the chance, a hand up.”
She echoes Arch’s statements about being connected to young people, and acknowledges the broad professional benefits of a better understanding of individuals from all walks of life.
“Talent coming through the industry is innovative, dynamic, and they have a different world view. We’d do ourselves a disservice not to focus on this and capture its value through understanding.”
Extolling the virtues of a mutually beneficial mentor/mentee relationship, Greenwood says her meetings with Melika disrupt her diary in a positive way.
“It’s different and creates a forum for curiosity and reflection. I’ll often come away from a catch-up feeling really grateful for the opportunity to see the industry from a fresh perspective. Results may be less tangible, but I believe all businesses and leaders can benefit from lending their time to mentorship initiatives.”
“In my short time mentoring through Keystone Trust, I have learned a great deal and look forward to supporting Melika’s personal and professional growth, as well as its influence on my own,” she says.
Alain McKinney – Project Director, Precinct Properties
Holding various executive roles across the commercial and development sectors in Europe and New Zealand, Alain McKinney has a superb understanding of what it takes to foster a thriving team environment.
Putting his hand up as a mentor for Keystone Trust several years ago, he has grown alongside the trust and its students, noting a fulfilling journey to date that has included some steep learning curves.
“There’s so much pressure on young people today, between the pandemic, academic success, financial and familial obligations, we have a duty to understand their struggles to produce more positive outcomes.
“Mental health is a huge issue which requires careful attention, so it’s vital we foster an inclusive corporate environment which provides support and constant opportunities to question and grow – from junior team members to firm executives,” he says.
Alain says mentorship is a lot more informal within smaller businesses, but notes it remains no less valuable for stakeholders.
“Leadership comes from learning on the job. The more exposure we have to people from various backgrounds and beliefs, the greater the likelihood of engagement and understanding.
“Cross-pollination is a valuable component to the successful workings of any organisation, and mentoring facilitates this while allowing young people to take control of their learning by seeking guidance and developing the confidence to grasp opportunities,” he says.
Keystone Trust would like to thank all mentors and mentees, past, present and future, for their commitment to growth and supporting one another to create positive outcomes in New Zealand and abroad.
For further media enquiries, please contact
Keystone Trust – General Manager
M: 021 689 380