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Scholarship bringing “value from academia into our backyard”

12 February 2024

Three Canterbury businesspeople will accelerate their leadership journey at the University of Canterbury this year, with help from top mentors in their field. 


Photo caption: Luke Johnson, Nicola Peddie and Tony Fallon will have their leadership journey accelerated with UC through the Gough Family Foundation Leaders Scholarship.

The Ben Gough Family Foundation Leaders Scholarship was established in 2021 in partnership with Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha | University of Canterbury Master of Business Administration (MBA) programme.

Luke Johnson is one of three recipients of the scholarship. With extensive leadership experience as a commissioned officer in the New Zealand Army (including an operational tour to Iraq), work for Silverstone Circuit - the home of F1 British Grand Prix, and the Emergency Management sector within the Ministry for Primary Industries during the Covid-19 pandemic, the MBA seemed like a natural step.

Sharing knowledge for the collective good, taking risks, and learning to get comfortable with the uncomfortable have been integral for Johnson over his life.

“Risk and the ability to feel uncomfortable drives me forward, and sometimes people feel it shouldn't be like that, but that's what makes us innovate and challenge,” he says.

Johnson sees incredible potential in Waitaha Canterbury and Aotearoa New Zealand. He hopes to use the knowledge gained from his MBA to continue building local talent.

“I'm a big believer of New Zealand as a whole. I've seen how good it can be and I've seen what we've gone through, and I hope to play my part by releasing the value I gain from academia into our back yard.”

A new year often inspires lofty goals and well-intentioned motivation, but Johnson knows motivation can only take a person so far. “It's consistency; the goal only gets realised when you're consistent to it. I'm quite a disciplined and structured person; parenting does make that more challenging but remaining consistent and staying the course is key.”

The main pillars of the MBA, its future-focused lens, and in-person learning, made the University of Canterbury an obvious choice. “With the theme of ‘take the best of Canterbury to the world and bring the best of the world to Canterbury’, and an MBA from a triple crown accredited Business School, that's world class and you want to be bringing that in and then helping clients or communities take the best of what we've got here and be advocates with the rest of the world - that's the key part for me.”

Johnson’s mentor for his time in the programme is Roger Gray. Gray is currently the Port of Auckland Chief Executive Officer. Before his role in Auckland Gray was CEO of Lyttelton Port Company for two years. Roger previously worked for Air New Zealand for 6.5 years. His last role at Air New Zealand was Group General Manager Airports, in which he managed all ground handling and lounge operations at 55 airports around the globe, covering 2,800 staff who handle 18 million passengers annually.

UC’s MBA brings together professionals from a variety of industries who all share their knowledge while learning together, “I don't know everything and I never will, but there's a lot of other people that know a lot more about different things, and it's about trying to harness them and use it in the right way and wield it in the right direction to actually make an impact,” Johnson says.

The scholarships are offered annually to rising leadership talent and alongside Johnson UC’s other 2024 recipients include Nicola Peddie and Tony Fallon. All three have a track-record of outstanding achievements in their various fields.

They will receive a programme of learning and support, including a substantial contribution towards their University of Canterbury MBA course fees, bespoke leadership coaching, an Outward Bound leadership experience, and mentoring from a highly experienced business and community leader.

Ben Gough Family Foundation trustees Ben and Penny Gough curated the scholarship programme, alongside the University, to support and empower emerging leaders with exceptional promise.

Through their relationships and networks, the Goughs connect scholars to a mentor who can provide exclusive insights and guidance during their MBA studies.

More information
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