An accomplished CIO, Michael Sheehan, is the new executive director at CIOs Without Borders.
CIOs Without Borders is a global non-profit organisation that uses technology to provide education, healthcare and infrastructure services to underserved areas around the world.
This is the first time anyone outside North America has been appointed to the role, Sheehan tells CIO New Zealand.
His previous roles include CIO at AgResearch, Nurse Maude and TIO. He was also head of retail technology at Kiwibank, information technology manager then head of business effectiveness at New Zealand Post, and manager development and build at ANZ Bank.
Sheehan will continue to be based in Christchurch, but will travel regularly to New York, Asia and Africa.
Prior to his appointment, Sheehan was director, Oceania, for CIOs Without Borders.
Sheehan now reports to a Board chaired by Atti Riazi who is assistant secretary general and CIO at the United Nations and founder of CIOs Without Borders.
“It is important to me that in life we all take responsibility for how we take care of each other and that we are each accountable for the planet and all life on it," says Sheehan.
"As a result, I’ve been involved in volunteer, charity or not-for-profit work throughout my working life in various capacities, such as volunteering as an Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) medic, but now the opportunity to lead CIOs Without Borders gives me a chance to apply all my professional leadership and technology skills to the not for profit sector.
“Riazi has created an organisation that brings the collaborative knowledge of technology experts in various fields to bear on the sustainability goals of the UN. I am excited and humbled at the prospect of making a real and practical contribution to social and environmental sustainability in areas of the world where it is most needed.”
CIOs Without Borders is made up of over 600 chief information officers and senior technologists who volunteer their time and expertise.
Riazi, who founded CIOs Without Borders in 2008, says the organisation was originally formed to reduce the negative impact of technology on developing countries.
“At that stage I was concerned when I witnessed the impact e-waste was having and decided to form an organisation to tackle the problem,” says Riazi. “It didn’t take long to realise we were limiting ourselves, why just reduce the negative impact of technology, when we can bring it to bear as a tool for good?”
Not-for-profit organisations need technology services, web sites, databases etc. but often cannot afford to pay for an internal IT staff. CIOs Without Borders aims to provide free or low cost IT services to select international non-profits.
A current project involves implementing an expert medical system in Rwanda, a country with one doctor for every 25,000 people. Medical care in most rural areas are non-existent, and this simple diagnostic tool operated by a high school student has the potential of saving lives and greatly improving health and productivity.
CIOs Without Borders is working with partner organisations to modify this system that is being implemented in India, so that it will be able to work in Rwanda.
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