Bupa appoints permanent CIO

Simon Birch Bupa CIO

Health insurer Bupa has announced the appointment of Simon Birch, most recently the Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s (CBA’s) acting chief technology officer, as permanent chief information officer (CIO) for APAC.

Welcoming the firm’s new tech chief, Nick Stone, Bupa’s recently appointed APAC chief executive, recognised Birch’s “significant experience in transforming the technology environments of large organisations and leading digital uplifts”.

“This will be invaluable for Bupa APAC as we continue to modernise, digitise and personalise healthcare for our customers,” Stone added.

Bupa APAC said its latest executive appointment was made following an extensive internal and external recruitment process.

Birch assumes the role from Jenny Watson, who stepped in as acting CIO in April 2022 following former information chief Sami Yalavac’s appointment as lead of Bupa’s health services arm.

Yalavac eventually left Bupa at the end of 2022.

Watson will return to her original role as Bupa’s senior technology director, health insurance, adding ‘business services’ to her title.

Birch served just under four years at CBA, most recently as acting chief technology officer, leading the bank’s engineering, architecture and infrastructure services teams for around 10 months.

Prior to this, he was CBA’s executive general manager of payments, responsible for group-wide payments technology, operations and service management.

As part of this role, he also served as a member of the Australian Payments Council, a board member of Australia Payments Plus (BPAY, NPP, eftpos) and a member of the Mastercard Technology Advisory Council.

Before joining CBA, Birch held a number of senior roles across his decade-long tenure at British big four bank, Barclays, the latter two years as CIO, corporate bank and group payments.

Commenting on his appointment, Birch said he was “delighted” to be joining the health insurer on its “transformation and connected care journey”.

In a statement, he added: “It is a privilege to be taking up this leadership position in an organisation that has a true ambition to become APAC’s most customer-centric healthcare company and where technology has a crucial role to play.

“I look forward to working with all of the passionate people at Bupa to help this amazing organisation go from strength to strength.”