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Student story

Sam Butcher

20 July 2023

"We get to make a big difference for a few kids, and a smaller difference to thousands more..."


As the Director of the Imagination Station education centre, Sam has the awesome job of sharing his love of LEGO and creativity with Christchurch, to strengthen its community spirit.

"I get to work with and meet awesome passionate people who are keen to make a difference in the world. We get to make a big difference for a few kids, and a smaller difference to thousands more," he says. "There are so many exciting things happening in Christchurch, and so many opportunities to get involved!"

Imagination Station allows people of all ages to play and build with gigantic piles of LEGO, as well as try out stop-motion animation, 3D modelling and robotic contraptions. Sam’s role sees him manage the scope of the centre and beyond, with what it can offer the city.

"This basically consists of establishing relationships with all kinds of people around Christchurch and beyond, bringing on supporters at all levels, constantly learning about our customers, and making sure all our resources are effectively used to reach the best outcome for Christchurch. I never quite know what might come up on a given day.

"It’s a pretty diverse role," he admits.

Sam’s journey started at UC, where he ended up studying Business Economics and Information Systems. Enrolling with a UC Undergraduate Entrance Scholarship and an Emerging Leaders’ Programme Scholarship, he got to take part in UC’s unique leadership development programme that involves creating projects for the local community.

"UC’s Business Economics degree was a good option to put my interest in economics and finance into an applied context – whether it be in consulting, small business, government or other endeavours.

"Information Systems is a broad subject area that covers a range of hugely relevant skills for the 21st century – project management, data analytics, programming, system development and process improvement, and applying all these things to business contexts."

One of his goals was to get involved and learn outside of the classroom in the ‘real world’. Sam has a self-professed love for ‘anything entrepreneurial’, and this led to getting involved with the UC Centre for Entrepreneurship. He advises other students to consider university as more than just an opportunity to gain qualifications.

"Take the opportunity of long university holidays to try out different types of work and styles of working," he says. "Make sure you get to know people from different walks of life and learn about the real world. Universities are good for some things, but they won’t prepare you for the real world just by going to lectures. Work hard and stand up for yourself."

Faith was another important part of his time at UC and beyond, and Sam would often meet with the Christian Union on campus to strengthen his values alongside study.

"Religious or not, I’d totally recommend people take the chance of university to think about what they believe and why – university can be a time that shapes us for life."

Though his time in university, Sam also imported and sold LEGO toys as an online retailer, and was a Robotics teacher for several schools in Christchurch, combining his interests in creative design and technology. Now having completed his study, Sam will be doing an internship with the New Zealand Commerce Commission in Wellington at the beginning of 2017, before returning to Christchurch to continue his work here.

His Commerce degree has been great path toward his current roles, and Sam looks forward to what more he can offer Christchurch in his career.

"It felt like a pretty good mix of skills going into the business environment of this day and age," he says. "It’s given me somewhat of a framework to think from and confidence in what I’m doing."

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