by Chloe Herrick

CIOs to watch: Cochlear Australia’s Mark Salmon

Oct 28, 20113 mins
CareersHealthcare IndustryInnovation

Name: Mark Salmon Role: President Asia Pacific and senior vice-president global support operations Company: Cochlear Australia Industry: Healthcare Smartphone: iPhone

Growing up in Vanuatu until he was eight years old, Mark Salmon describes his childhood as “idyllic”. It was an upbringing sans technology that was conducive to creating your own fun and a lot of reading.

When he moved to Australia, Salmon’s interest in technology was triggered in his early teens.

“I was always interested in what technology could do, how things worked and how I could make them work better,” he says.

You might have the world’s greatest idea but unless you can convince other people the worth of that idea, you end up wasting a hell of a lot of energy

His career began with a traineeship in radio and electronics in several government departments including the Overseas Telecommunications Commission (OTC), the Department of Communication and the Department of Aviation.

His first foray into healthcare came in the early ’80s in biomedical engineering, when Salmon took on a role in NSW public health in a major teaching hospital. In his first role in healthcare, Salmon implemented computer systems and did “innovative things” in a time when “it was the very early days of commputers.”

Exiting the public sector in the late ’80s, Salmon has worked for the likes of Johnson Johnson and Chiron Diagnostics, specialising in life sciences and clinical diagnostics. He remained with the company for 11 years in roles that ranged from technical and service management to operations and marketing.

In the ’90s Salmon took on a role at GE Healthcare while studying for an MBA with the Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM). Both on-the-job and formal training have been invaluable to his career path, he says, with various courses undertaken while working for GE.

“I think the years that it took me to finish my MBA were incredibly important and taught me all about models and how to abstract away from those models and apply them to different sorts of circumstances.”

Salmon left GE in 2004 to take up his role at Cochlear. He “wears a number of different hats”.

“As well as being responsible for IT globally, I’m also the president for Asia Pacific so I run the distribution organisation, the sales and marketing and support organisation for Cochlear for the Asia Pacific region,” he says.

On top of Salmon’s to-do list is Release 12 (R12) of Oracle e-business suite for the company’s auditing and the financials.

“I think the single biggest lesson I learnt — which I learnt later than I should — is you have to bring people along with you,” Salmon says.

“You might have the world’s greatest idea but unless you can convince other people the worth of that idea, you end up wasting a hell of a lot of energy and potentially a good idea.

“In some cases during my career it’s not been obvious to me how a particular job is going to add value, but if I trusted the person offering it to me, I took it with both hands and tried to make a success of it. I would encourage everybody starting out in their career to be very open minded about opportunities.”

Read more in the CIOs to watch series:

  • Parmalat’s Barry Wiech
  • McGrath’s Tod O’Dell
  • ME Bank’s Kathryn Hawkins
  • Know a CIO to watch? Email