New partnership is Keystone Trust’s best advertisement

Executives say that Keystone Trust alumni in critical roles across asset management, contract management and site engineering were the catalyst for Fulton Hogan to become the organisation’s newest sponsorship partner.

Keystone Trust provides education and career support for students working towards qualifications in New Zealand’s property and construction sectors.

Keystone’s general manager Amanda Stanes says the trust has enjoyed a rewarding relationship with Fulton Hogan.

“We have seen how working together can change the lives of individuals, especially young people, and look forward to a richer partnership as Fulton Hogan comes onboard as our newest sponsorship partner,” Stanes says.

Under the partnership, Fulton Hogan will tailor an annual scholarship to the developmental needs of the student recipient, who will have been a successful applicant of the Keystone Trust’s scholarship programme.

Fulton Hogan’s chief operating officer – infrastructure, Simon Dyne, says the partnership is a natural progression of an existing relationship, and the two organisations have many shared values.

“We are thrilled to extend Fulton Hogan’s support of young people training to join the industry.

“There’s everything to like about the Keystone philosophy and its track record in helping capable and talented young people reach their potential in the property and construction sectors,” he says.

Dyne points to the value Keystone Trust has provided to Fulton Hogan through current team members; Adam Humphries, Rick Gardner and Maria Garcia, each of whom are previous recipients of Keystone Trust scholarship awards.

For Humphries, Fulton Hogan New Zealand’s national asset manager, the partnership’s true value is in supporting the next generation of talent to realise their potential within the industry.

When recent flooding hit the Gisborne (Tairāwhiti) and Wairoa regions, Gardner and his team at Fulton Hogan were still carrying out repairs on difficult sections of road damaged in weather events two years ago.

Fulton Hogan’s Australian-based New South Wales site engineer, Garcia, says she is pleased the business has offered resounding support to the trust as a sponsor.

“Receiving a Key Partner Scholarship gave me a life-changing pathway into the industry – through the trust and the support of its affiliates, I gained opportunities to meet industry leaders, receive mentorship, and broaden my knowledge through workshops, site visits and networking events.

“The trust also provided me with the opportunity to undertake a summer internship with TSA Management which was a key stepping stone in my career,” Garcia says.

Fulton Hogan’s East Coast (NZ) contracting divisional manager, Rick Gardner, fondly remembers his experience as a student with Keystone.

“It was bloody amazing,” he says. “The financial input was significant, but I benefitted hugely from networking opportunities which were so valuable for an 18-year-old lad from Gisborne. Those meetings and conversations with industry professionals really opened my eyes.

“I remember the interview process so well. I had to borrow a tie from a teacher at school because I had never worn one before. There were applicants from flashier schools from Auckland and Christchurch, and I remember thinking – I don’t stand a chance here.

“But I won a Keystone Trust Study Award, which supported me while I worked at Fulton Hogan and studied to achieve a diploma in civil engineering at the Waikato Institute of Technology (WINTEC),” he says.

Gardner is the conduit between builders, suppliers, councils and communities. He manages teams at the most professional level while delivering vital road and infrastructure projects in challenging areas.

“High rainfall and young geology make engineering challenging in Gisborne, it’s also a large area with a small ratepayer base so there isn’t always a lot of local funding to improve infrastructure which requires constant attention,” he says.

Though it’s clear he loves what he does and points to projects like the landmark Motu Bridge replacement, and improvements around aerospace manufacturer RocketLab’s Mahia Peninsula launch site as an example of the unique programmes his team proudly delivers.

Growing up on farms on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island, Gardner always knew he wanted to work outside in a hands-on environment.

“At high school, a careers advisor lined me up with a contact at Fulton Hogan, and from there I applied for a Keystone study award – which was known in 2002 as the Graeme Bringans Property Trust.”

“This supported me through my work at Fulton Hogan while I studied to achieve a diploma in Civil Engineering at the Waikato Institute of Technology (WINTEC),” he says.

Of his most memorable achievements, he points to Fulton Hogan’s work with the Ministry of Social Development (MSD), which has allocated funding under the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) to support social procurement in regions including Tairāwhiti.

“We’re the lead goose in the region when it comes to social procurement and I am really proud of our ability to create employment opportunities in conjunction with infrastructure projects that help to facilitate local prosperity.”

He says to the business’ strong culture and ability to find which peg fits the right hole is a key factor in its high staff retention rate.

“As my career progresses, I am moving away from the coalface, and the highlight is now developing teams – I am an advocate of hiring staff based on attitude rather than what’s on their CV and developing people to get the most out of them,” he adds.