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Future leaders chosen for UC business boost

30 January 2023

A new scholarship is offering three Canterbury businesspeople the chance to learn from top mentors in their field.


This year’s Ben Gough Family Foundation Leaders Scholarship recipients are Sam Butcher, Julie Hands and Gareth Bruce.

The Ben Gough Family Foundation Leaders Scholarship programme was launched in 2021 in partnership with the University of Canterbury Master of Business Administration (MBA) programme.

The scholarships are offered annually to rising leadership talent, and this year have been awarded to Sam Butcher, Gareth Bruce and Julie Hands, all high achievers in their fields.

SDG 4 Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 - Quality Education

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

Ben Gough Family Foundation trustees and local business leaders Ben and Penny Gough have curated the scholarship programme, alongside the University, to accelerate the scholars’ professional and personal development

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

University of Canterbury graduates Rob Fyfe, former Air New Zealand Chief Executive, adviser to the New Zealand Government and Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit; Guy Horrocks, Co-founder of New York-based data company, investor, and Director of NZME; and Sam Johnson, Director of Projects at STILL, Founder of Student Volunteer Army (SVA), and Finalist for New Zealander of the Year in 2021 will provide mentoring for the 2023 scholars over the next two years.

Ben Gough says the pandemic-related upheaval of the last few years has demonstrated the need to be responsive, agile and dynamic in business.

“We are excited to be a part of the scholars’ journey and to see them develop these capabilities as they rise through the scholarship programme and the academic challenges of their MBA studies at the University of Canterbury,” he says.

University of Canterbury MBA Director Dr Elsamari Botha says it’s exciting to have the second group of scholars beginning their studies in 2023. 

“We are impressed with the diverse experiences and backgrounds of this year’s scholars and can’t wait to see them achieve even further through their MBA studies and the amazing opportunities offered through the Leaders Scholarship programme.

“The UC MBA is focused on impact, and I have no doubt that these scholars will have a great impact in their respective industries in the future.”


Sam Butcher is a Business Analysis Consultant for Redvespa. Sam has co-founded multiple organisations and businesses in Canterbury including an online store, the Christchurch Brick Show and Imagination Station. After six years as Managing Director of Imagination Station, Sam moved into the field of strategic business analysis with Redvespa.

Sam, who was Head Boy at Middleton Grange School in 2012, received an Emerging Leaders Scholarship and completed a degree in Business Economics and Information Systems at the University of Canterbury.

His mentor for the scholarship will be Guy Horrocks.


Gareth Bruce is a University of Canterbury Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) graduate who is now General Manager of Utilities Infrastructure NZ, a civil construction business specialising in trenchless technology. He leads a team of 60 working across New Zealand, with a strong focus on leadership training, development and creating opportunities for all staff.

He has been chairman of Civil Contractors Canterbury and serves on the board of St Thomas of Canterbury College.

He is looking forward to further developing his leadership style and learning new skills to support his business towards successfully navigating digital transformation and rapid change in the construction industry.

Gareth will be mentored by Rob Fyfe.


Julie Hands is a senior in-house lawyer and governance professional currently working as Senior Counsel for St John New Zealand and sitting on the board of Te Whatu Ora - Health New Zealand subsidiary Brackenridge. Julie has previously sat on the board of other charities including Ronald McDonald House South Island and has a strong motivation to give back to the community.  

While now working in the health and disability sectors, Julie has previously worked in the dairy sector and has a passion for the South Island business and the agricultural sector generally.

Julie’s mentor is social entrepreneur Sam Johnson, who this year will be the Director of Projects for STILL, a family office entrepreneurial venture.

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