Come Fly With Me

This week I have three challenges for you…

I’m writing this from the depths of a beanbag in Ko Awatea’s Innovation Hub, reflecting on a meeting I had a few days ago with Rob Fyfe, Chief Executive Officer of Air New Zealand and a Kiwi who I’ve admired for many years. A lot of people describe him as charismatic – in fact, when I met him, I found he came across as a down-to-earth Kiwi guy who lives and breathes the work that he does, just like so many of you. Who are the Rob Fyfes among us at CMDHB?

I had the good fortune of having lunch with him and decided to take the opportunity to talk to him about how he communicates across Air NZ, which is similar in size to CMDHB. He said that, while his organisation has a clear mission statement, what he really wants every member of staff to have is a sense of character, of what it means to be in Air NZ. He named four characteristics he hopes his staff share:

  • They welcome everybody as a friend
  • They are themselves and are genuine in their dealings with others
  • They embrace the classic Kiwi ‘can do’ attitude
  • They share what they are proud of about New Zealand

His real motto for Air NZ staff is ‘be yourself and be proud of who you are’.

This got me thinking… What are the three or four characteristics which are unique to CMDHB and which define us as an organisation? I’d be very interested in hearing your suggestions – email me @

My second challenge for you relates to the stories you hear everyday on the shop floor – from patients, families and other staff. Rob Fyfe mentioned how he likes to share stories that illustrate Air NZ’s character with staff across the organisation. I’d love to learn from that and use my blog for that purpose. I think this could help develop our character and share with everyone tales that demonstrate the Counties Manukau spirit. Please email me your suggestions or reply to this blog – I really would love to hear from you.

Finally Rob Fyfe talked about shadowing people – spending time with a member of staff observing their work and appreciating firsthand the challenges and successes they experience on a daily basis. It’s something I’ve done in the past but not for a while at CMDHB. But I’ve decided to commit myself to shadowing a member of staff for half a day, twice a month. I think it’s really important that I see firsthand what it’s like for you, what your problems and frustrations are, and what drives you. It will give me a much more subtle understanding of your reality (plus nothing helps boost staff morale like seeing the CEO spill a full bedpan down his front, which unfortunately did happen during a day I spent shadowing a staff member at a hospital in the United Kingdom).

If anyone, anywhere in the organisation would like me to shadow them for half a day, please send me an email. Similarly, if anyone in the organisation would like to spend half a day shadowing me and learning firsthand what my role as CEO involves, speak up. I’d love to share the things I do with you.

Right – I think that’s enough homework for now!

Before I sign off, I’d like to thank everybody for helping make the launch of Ko Awatea such a success. Together we created a real buzz and a wonderful sense of new beginnings from which to move forward. If you haven’t already seen it, check out the Ko Awatea Facebook page or You Tube for the video montage of highlights from the Ko Awatea opening and Colloquium. The song from Neil Finn is breathtaking and we were so lucky to have Peter Jackson, some Shortland Street actresses, Mayor Len Brown and several international guests lending their support to our initiative. The highlight for me from last week was the hour spent with the students from Point England School – thanks to Pat Snedden for bringing them along. The kids’ energy, fun and ambition were an inspiration and really demonstrated the potential we have in Counties Manukau – our challenge is to tap into that potential and nurture it.

Lastly, we’ve just finished the end of the 2010/2011 financial year. I’ll give you more detail about that in future blogs but just wanted to acknowledge that we finished last year in a really good position. Thanks to you all for your commitment to this result – I’m optimistic we have a really positive future ahead of us in Counties Manukau.

So with 2011/2012 now beginning, can I wish you all a happy and healthy new year!


PS: Thanks to all those who have left comments on my blog recently. I’ll be reading and replying to all the feedback I get so keep the comments coming in!


Author: Geraint Martin

Geraint Martin was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Counties Manukau DHB in December 2006. It is one of the largest District Health Boards in New Zealand and services a population of half a million. He has significant experience over 30 years in national policy & in managing both primary and secondary care . Previously, he was Director of Health and Social Care Strategy at the Welsh Government .He authored a radical 10 year strategy of reform, including the successful “Saving 1000 lives” Campaign.Until 2004, he was CEO at Kettering General Hospital & had held senior positions in London & Birmingham.He has worked closely with clinicians in improving clinical standards,patient safety,chronic disease management & managing acute care to reduce hospital demand.In NZ, He has promoted clinical quality and leadership as central to improving patientcare. This has led to a significant increases in productivity and access, whilst maintaining financial balance. CMH has completed in 2014 a $500 m capital redevelopment programme, the largest in New Zealand. A central part of this is the establishment of Ko Awatea,the Centre for Innovation and Research which will underpin CMH as one of the the leading health systems in Australasia.In 2008, he chaired the Ministerial Review of Emergency Care in New Zealand, and in 2013 was an member of the Expert Advisory Panel on Health Sector Performance. Geraint has an MSc in Health Policy from Birmingham University .His post-graduate work has focused on health economics and Corporate Strategy . He is adjunct Professor of Healthcare Management at AUT and Victoria University, Wellington Elected in 2006 as a Companion of the Institute of Healthcare Management, previously he was an Associate Fellow at Birmingham University.He is is Chair of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, a member of the Institute of Directors, on the Board of the NZ Institute of Health Management & previously the Board of The NZ Health Quality and Safety Commission.

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