New Chief Executive is focused on benefits for people
Mark Corbitt chats to us about his background, personal interests, and what drew him to lead Patients First as CEO.
by Mark Corbitt
I’ve had a bit of a circuitous journey to this point; I’ve spent the last 10 years in the private sector and prior to that, in a variety of industries. I also worked in women’s clothing for a bit! I’ve had a variety of roles, from GM customer service through to Chief Information Officer and Chief Technology Officer. I’ve also done some work in the public sector; I was Chief Information Officer at what was then Housing New Zealand, and have spent time consulting at the Ministry of Justice.
I can’t say I’ve been stuck on one industry. But the expectation of getting into the health sector, until last year, really wasn’t there. But to find myself in it, as someone put it to me, it’s addictive. So here I am!
When I reflect on the previous roles I’ve had, the key lesson is that it’s all about people. Whatever you do, in whatever role, somewhere along the line there is an intersection with people. What you do benefits someone in some form or other. That’s something I’ve had in mind throughout all the roles I’ve had, and it’s one of the things that attracted me to the health sector and the not-for-profit sector – it’s very obvious to see “who does this benefit?”.
Joining a not-for-profit organisation has always been part of my career path. Commercial organisations have the advantage of clarity but they are profit driven and, sometimes, the benefit to the person is second place. Frankly, I’d had enough of that. I wanted something that was a bit more focused on people and benefits for people – whatever that benefit looked like. I wanted to be part of making some small difference directly, rather than perhaps more indirectly as it tends to be for a commercial organisation.
Now that I’m leading a not-for-profit organisation I feel excited. A bit nervous, I must admit. But I am grateful for the opportunity; I didn’t anticipate it to occur quite the way it has. I’ll miss some of the speed of commercial organisations, but I won’t miss that focus on profit.
I also work with people in a voluntary mentoring capacity – from an overseas MBA student to a woman who was taking on a GM role for the first time in a not-for-profit social enterprise. I really enjoy seeing people think a little further ahead, dream a little bit bigger, aim for just a little bit more than what they thought was possible. It’s not always easy – you’ve got to be prepared to listen and give of what you have. It can be tricky if you’ve had a rotten week because you’re giving of yourself out of choice and without expectation of reward, but the benefit’s in the participation.
In my spare time I try to keep fit – that’s pretty important to me from a health perspective – and spend time with my adult children and one grandchild. When I’m not doing that, I ride a motorcycle, walk with my wife and I like to read. I also have a whiskey collection, so if I’ve had a particularly hard day at work a single malt whiskey – just one! – helps me unwind and de-stress. If that doesn’t work I’ll talk to someone I respect and love, or exercise is great for de-stressing as well.
My first impression of Patients First was that they’re a small team but the capability is spectacular. I’m surprised by how deep our reach is into our sector. It’s a concern for me in a sense, because I’ve got to live up to that, but it’s equally a comfort in the sense that we already have that reach as an organisation in primary care.
My plan is to empower the people in Patients First to do what they’re able to do, and hopefully to do even more. I will motivate and encourage them in that, and lead by setting clear goals, targets, and of course a vision and strategy. But above all communicate, communicate and communicate.
It’s an unusual time to come into an organisation like Patients First. With the Health and Disability Review it feels like there’s a substantial degree of uncertainty that’s suddenly been introduced – for good reason. But I firmly believe that uncertainty allows for opportunity, and I’m looking forward to being part of that opportunity.