Man from Atlantis

Man from Atlantis

Mike Havill's work takes him across the globe with New Zealand as his home base.

Havill is director of group technology at Atlantis Healthcare, which designs and implements programmes to help patients adhere to treatment. The company has offices in Australia, Spain, UK and Germany.

He leads a team of business analysts and developers -- the majority of whom are based locally. "We build in New Zealand, so my team has quite an interesting diverse work. One day they may be building a programme for depression in Spain, the next day they will be building something for osteoporosis in Australia. With that comes a lot of creativity and challenges; different cultures, different demographics."

Havill, who before joining Atlantis was business development manager and vice president of marketing for software company AuthorIT, says this unusual background for a CIO role is useful in his current job. "Marketing and sales experience is very important for a global company... You are removed from a lot of individuals geographically, you are removed from them based on their disciplines and their experience, so it is very important [that you are] marketing what you are doing, what benefits your department has."

When working across cultural boundaries and languages, Havill says it is all about understanding the different operational environments and culture.

Innovation and creativity are key words he lives by. "I like solving challenges, because I find if you understand how a lot of things work, you will find inspiration in many places you wouldn't expect."

Take sports, specifically rugby, which Havill has been playing for the past 24 years. "One of the interesting challenges I always observed about rugby was about motivation," he says. "Motivation in a rugby game is not a constant thing. You don't start at a high point and try to keep it high the whole game."

He continues: "As a captain you have to understand how do you ride the wave of motivation and where do you push it and where do you let it go and where do you get most out of it?

"Working in business is the same," he says. "You don't sit down with your team everyday and bang the desk and get them really excited because it won't have an effect after a while. So you have to reserve those moments where it makes sense and you have to understand, how do you motivate someone today versus tomorrow? How do you motivate the team versus the individual?"

Involvement and interest outside the technology world is a trait he instils in his team. "Everyone is very important outside of their role," he says. He expects, for instance, a good developer to have an interest in what the clinical team is working on, have an opinion and talk about it.

One aspect of working with a global team is the possibility of being accessible 24 x 7. "It is something you have to manage very carefully," says Havill. "Probably where I have grown the most, is understanding you can be available at two in the morning, but are you effective?"

Havill expects his team to be forthright on the challenges they face at work. "I say to my team quite regularly, 'If you know something is going to happen, spend time preparing for it'," he says. "Anyone in my team can say 'I have a real problem', at any time in the project except for the day it is meant to go live."

He says Atlantis has a "heavy focus" on keeping everyone informed on what the various groups are working on and allowing other staff to contribute to the projects. "The last thing we want is someone finishing a project and a group saying they could have been involved to make it better."

Havill says his challenges are around managing concurrent projects, and this is a topic that also crops up in his discussions with other CTOs and CIOs.

"That is the biggest challenge everyone has, especially in a New Zealand business that is getting bigger very quickly."

Join the CIO New Zealand group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.

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