Having started his career feeding newborn lambs for his shepherd father, Mark Austin has grown to become a key player in the shifting information management and technology strategy of the NHS.
Working as chief information officer for the Bedford Hospital NHS Trust, Austin (pictured left) has seen the application of several bold new initiatives. One of the biggest has been the introduction of Xirrus wireless technology within Bedford hospital, a move that has helped the care centre adopt a more flexible bring-your-own-device (BYOD) strategy.
Eager to see what makes the man helping to keep Bedford Hospital running, we put Austin in the V3 Hot Seat. Austin's Hot Seat follows those of many movers and shakers in the IT industry including Wandsworth Council head of IT David Tidey, Newport City Council governance manager Tracy McKim and Bet365 chief technology officer Martin Davies.
V3: What's your favourite part of your current job?
Austin: For me, the best part is working with and applying new technology to support patient care and make a difference. We recently introduced Xirrus wireless to support BYOD for better bedside care.
What would be your dream job?
I'd love to be an F1 driver in a car designed by Adrian Newey.
Which mobile phone and tablet do you currently use?
I currently use a Samsung Galaxy S3 phone and Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1.
Which person do you most admire in the IT industry?
As I trained as an electronics engineer, I would have to say Intel's co-founder Gordon E Moore. My smartphone proves his theory that the number of transistors on integrated circuit chips doubles approximately every two years.
Which technology has had the biggest impact on your working life?
For me it's the internet. The way it drives computer telecommunications and wireless connectivity has helped hospitals across the UK improve processes and boost efficiencies.
What's been the highlight of your career so far?
So far the highlight has been delivering my own information management and technology (IM&T) strategy as a CIO at Bedford Hospital.
What was your first job?
My first job was bottle feeding orphaned newborn lambs for my shepherd father.
What will be the next big innovation of the coming years?
It will be mobile devices that are able to charge themselves wirelessly.
What do you enjoy doing when you finish work?
I enjoy watching F1 or sci-fi films.
What keeps you awake at night?
I lose sleep over projects that are over-running.
What was the last book you read and was it any good?
The last book I read was The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle. It was good to read but not as good as Benedict Cumberbatch.
Who is your favourite band or musician?
I like Paloma Faith with the Guy Barker Orchestra.
Where's your favourite holiday destination?
I enjoy going to Italy.
E-readers or real books?
I use e-readers.
Twitter, Facebook or Google+?
I use Twitter the most.
The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?
I prefer The Beatles.
My favourite movie is Aliens.
Windows or Mac OS?
I use Microsoft Windows.
On-premise or cloud?
I still use a private cloud.
What's holding back women from entering the IT profession?
The lack of an interesting science and technology curriculum in schools.
How can we get more school children interested in IT careers?
We need to train them to program computers so they're learning how to do something practical rather than just use the latest version of Office.
Did you always grow up wanting to work in IT?
Yes, I wanted to be a mission specialist on the space shuttle.
What websites do you have bookmarked at work?
I currently have, Xirrus.co.uk, news.bbc.co.uk, google.co.uk, dell.co.uk, and bedfordhospital.nhs.uk labtestsonline.org.uk bookmarked.
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