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From marine scientist to tech company - Rei Ishikawa shares his journey into tech.

Friday May 1, 2020

Rei Ishikawa is Chief Operations Officer of, a healthtech company founded and based in Dunedin. As a Japanese national growing up in Hawaii, Rei came to New Zealand’s University of Canterbury to study Environmental Geography with a focus on climate change and marine science.

Rei’s studies led to a career in Dunedin “managing people and clients” as project manager in different roles including BioGas, NZ Defence, DCC Road Contracts (seawall impact), Cadbury and Speights.

Rei was approached to co-ordinate and manage the IT alignment, for the national merger between CRT and Farmlands. His first thought was “but I don’t know anything about farming!” After 2 years successfully modernising and aligning the South Island infrastructure and data for Farmlands, another opportunity arose in an industry he had no previous experience in, healthcare.

Rei initially became the Project Manager for BPAC NZ, a health informatics software development and implementation organisation. With contracts nationwide and overseas, such as PHARMAC, Ministry of Health (NZ) and overseas in Sussex UK, Victoria, NSW and Queensland Health in Australia. 

“A beginner’s mind is a wonderful thing” Rei shares with the cohort, "not having a farming or health background has even been an advantage". 

Rei likes to have people with diverse backgrounds on the team at BPAC. While the platform is built "using doctors to build information for doctors," many of the technical team are not from a health background, including Project Managers, UX team, Business and Data analysts.

After 5 years in a variety of roles within the tech industry, Rei says  “You can’t learn for the jobs of tomorrow, but you need to be able to fit with the culture of the organisation. Industries employ people who want to learn”.  

If you would like to share your tech experiences with our students, please email or call 0800 990 024.

View our SIGNAL Industry Insights page to see our current line-up of industry leaders, sharing their experience with our SHIFT Cohorts.

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