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Farmboy turned disaster-recovery guru and social entrepreneur.


Sam Johnson is one of New Zealand’s most inspiring young citizens. His relentless energy to mobilise people around ideas has a magic ability in building movements that matter! Farm boy turned social entrepreneur, Sam’s work is on the leading edge of using the collective to overcome the bureaucratic - shifting our belief system about what is possible when teams, organisations and communities authentically connect and build empathy.

Sam became a household name in New Zealand when he started what has become New Zealand’s largest volunteer movement-the internationally acclaimed Student Volunteer Army. What started as a small social media page after the devastating Christchurch earthquakes has been mirrored across the globe as a movement for impact, not an organisation for ego.

Awarded Young New Zealander of the Year for his leadership, Communicator of the Year for his honest media commentary and a Sir Peter Blake Leadership Award to remind him never to rest on success; in Sam’s world, there is no moment worth missing out on.

Current work
Sam developed a social enterprise in 2016 to connect generations and end social isolation in New Zealand. His venture joined forces with Mycare in 2017, reforming the home care sector through an AirBnB model of community support. Sam is now Head of Community Innovation at Mycare and helps recreate mutually beneficial models of community where they utilise Mycare's powerful technology to help realise ideas.

Sam is an Adjunct Fellow in the School of Education and Leadership at the University of Canterbury, #17 on the Readers Digest Most Trusted New Zealanders list, a member of the Ministry of Youth Development Partnership board, Westpac Sustainability Advisory Board and current Secretary of the International Association for Volunteer Effort.



  • Culture
  • Mastering Leadership
  • Sustainability
  • Purpose & Vision
  • Social Enterprise
  • Future of Work


  • Futurists
  • Science & Technology
  • Future Cities


  • Inspiring Stories
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Resilience
  • Connection & Storytelling

Politics & Advocacy

  • Leadership
  • Intergenerational Leadership
Sam was a delight to work with and we absolutely loved his presentation. Sam took time to come and mix and mingle with our delegates prior to his presentation the following morning. He was interested to get to know people and learn more about our industry group. Sam was a fantastic speaker. He was articulate, professional and his story was inspiring. Sam has the ability to convey a very human story with a business message. He was warm, funny, and he is a very special young man that will succeed at whatever he chooses to do. Conventions and Incentives New Zealand
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