In his first week on the job, Martin Catterall joined the St John Clinical Control Centre staff who handle 111 emergency calls. The experience reaffirmed his decision to take on the inaugural CIO role for New Zealand's most trusted charity.
Many IT people get locked up in Fortune 500 companies and contribute to the P and L of a company," says Martin Catterall, CIO at St John, who joined the charity in March. "Well, our P and L is about people. And that's pretty special.
"We're in a very privileged position as IT people to be able to directly contribute to the public health of New Zealanders."
In his first week on the job, Catterall spent several hours in the Auckland Clinical Control Centre at headquarters observing call handlers taking emergency 111 calls.
St John receives more than 1000 emergency calls each day.
"I watched the call handlers take these emergency calls day in, day out," he says. "I realised how profoundly people look after each other in this country. It was quite moving."
St John is the largest primary healthcare provider in New Zealand and delivers emergency ambulance services to 90 per cent of the country.
Catterall is St John New Zealand's first CIO, having joined the charity after 10 years in a global role as director of information technology and telecommunications at the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland.
Previously, the St John ICT team was part of a wider function that included finance and administration. He reports to CEO, Peter Bradley, who came back to New Zealand after heading the London Ambulance Services.
Catterall is a member of the executive management team, and is very clear on the focus and priority of his division.
"IT is a service to St John; we're service providers," he says. "We help the ambulance service, the paramedics and the community do their job. They are the real heroes."
The ICT team supports the systems and technology that, in turn, support frontline crews treating and transporting more than 415,000 patients each year. The organisation's standing in the community is such that it was voted the most trusted charity in the Reader's Digest Most Trusted Brand Awards this year. Paramedics, meanwhile, were second in the 'most trusted professions' category, next to firefighters.
At WHO, a United Nations agency, Catterall led the implementation of a global ERP, private network and unified communications for all staff.
Catterall says St John was interested in his background because the goal was to bring ''best business practice" to the organisation.
"St John is migrating from simply being a charity to focusing strongly on patient outcomes in a more driven, more managed, more measured approach," says Catterall of the organisation, which ranked number 23 in the CIO100,the annual report on the top ICT-using organisations in New Zealand.
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