Hamish Nuttall


CEO and Founder of Nakedbus

Revolutionising bus travel in New Zealand

Hamish Nuttall is Chief Executive Officer and founder of Nakedbus. With 16 staff in his rapidly growing organisation, Hamish has created an entirely new market and dramatically reduced the cost of bus travel around New Zealand, which he attributes to the pricing models learnt in his MBA. Hamish was a finalist in the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2010 and plans to extend his business by applying his low cost concept to other areas of the market such as accommodation and activities.

Motivation for MBA

Originally from the UK, Hamish began a career in transport as part of a management training scheme with Britain’s National bus company. Hamish moved to New Zealand in the early 1990s and set up his own business.  Unfortunately this initial business proved to be unsuccessful and he knew it was time to take stock of things and gather a new skill set.

“When my business failed I had to pick up the pieces and start all over again.”

Hamish needed a new beginning but wasn’t quite sure what he wanted to do.

“Public transport is my passion so I knew I definitely wanted to do something in that area but I just wasn’t quite sure what.”

Previously, a career consultant suggested that Hamish would benefit from doing an MBA, it seemed like the ideal time so he contacted Massey and discovered that there was a course beginning the following week with one vacancy available.

Experience of programme

Applying new ideas and theories to real life situations was very valuable to Hamish, he enjoyed writing assignments about business problems and using the theory to develop solutions.

“Learning to use theoretical concepts to analyse and flesh out ideas was really exciting.”

“Being around like-minded people was really good, everyone had different reasons for doing the course but we were all looking for a new challenge.”


In 2006 Hamish launched Nakedbus from the living room of his home; it was a radically new approach to long distance bus travel. With three buses to begin with, the company now has 35 and nearly 100 drivers all over the country, carrying hundreds of thousands of passengers a year at average prices of around $20.

From the beginning, the company has grown steadily at a rate of 40-60 per cent per year and has relocated offices approximately every 18 months to accommodate the growing team.

The MBA programme provided Hamish with a raft of business skills from management theory to human resources that help him run his new business day to day.

“There are certain things I learned that I use on a regular basis, such as the theory of constraints, that’s one of my favourite ideas.”

Hamish believes that anyone can start a business and that you don’t need an MBA to have a good idea. Young businesses that grow really fast can run into teething troubles which have the potential to be disastrous. The business knowledge from the MBA programme taught Hamish how to navigate these “growing pains” and put management controls in place to reduce these problems.

“It’s so important to understand how to transition your business through the different stages of growth.”

The interesting pricing model deployed by Nakedbus was developed as a result of Hamish being introduced to pricing theories such as yield management, as part of his MBA studies.

“It definitely got me thinking about pricing structures and how they apply to different businesses.”

For Hamish, one of the most important benefits of the MBA was a massive boost to his confidence at a time in his life when it he really needed it.

“It definitely marked a turning point for me. I came out of the process a different person, more confident and resilient generally. It was exactly what I needed after the shock of losing my previous business. It was the right thing at the right time for me.”

Hamish would advise anyone considering the MBA programme to think hard about why they want to do it. He believes that if people just want to earn more money then it’s possibly not the right choice.

“You must have an interest in new ideas or ways of doing things. It’s so important to be open to change.”

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