Well… as if our recent announcement of Paul Reade’s imminent retirement AND the addition of the rather fabulous Mark Anderson (Senior Systems Architect) to our team wasn’t big enough news, how about this? I am thrilled to be able to introduce yet another new face here at ESRconnect, and it’s a face that many of our clients will be very familiar with!

We are absolutely delighted to welcome Mark Johnson on board with us, fresh from his well-earned retirement from Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust after a dedicated and glittering career in NHS Payroll spanning 42 years!

Mark will be working alongside myself and Mark Anderson providing us with specialist NHS payroll insight meaning that we not only have the technical ability to produce the goods, but the all-important capacity to maintain a firm grasp on the business needs of our users and the nuances of the vital jobs they are doing after Paul’s retirement.

Additionally, Mark is tasked with chairing the new ESRconnect User Group which we are in the process of creating (details to follow in the coming weeks), and he will also work closely with our client Trusts to ensure they are making the most of our products and getting the very best from their investment with us.

Mark Johnson, Senior Payroll Specialist, ESRconnect Ltd

42 Years in the NHS you say?…

Yes I did, and I am pleased to be able to tell you a bit about Mark’s career so far, partly because it is an amazing story of success and dedication to the cause, but mainly because it’s an excuse to include another blast from the past photo. (I’m just hoping no one finds any of me any time soon, I may be due some payback!)

The Early Years

Mark joined the NHS in 1978 as a Finance Trainee working for Wakefield Area Health Authority where he spent 6 months in various finance departments. He initially intended to undertake a two-year training programme in accountancy, but after a stint in the payroll department Mark realised that he had found his area of interest and successfully applied to be a payroll officer in 1979.

In 1983, Mark went to work with Pontefract District Health, again in payroll where he used the Standard Payroll System, a system which was designed and managed by our Technical Director, Paul Reade and was used to pay NHS staff nationally until 2008.

Mark in 1983 (age 22)

Mark mastered his trade and quickly moved up the ranks. In 1985 he moved on to Pinderfields General Hospital in his hometown of Wakefield where he started as a team leader. By 1987 he secured the role of Deputy Payroll Manager/Pensions officer, becoming the Payroll Manager there in 1989, a role he enjoyed for 10 years.

The Leeds Years

In 1999, a merger happened between United Leeds Teaching Hospitals and St. James’s & Seacroft to form what we now know to be Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, a move which created the biggest payroll in the country, and guess who got the job of managing it? Correct – it was Mark Johnson.

Mark was the Payroll Manager at Leeds for over 20 years, during which time he oversaw many changes and much growth and success. Mark was instrumental in almost doubling the number of staff being paid at Leeds through various acquisitions of new payrolls and his team grew to meet with demand.

In 2001, Leeds became a national pilot for ESR and Mark took an active role in its implementation and testing, and worked with the central team to iron out issues so ESR is a system that Mark has worked with from the very beginning and knows inside out. The implementation of ESR at Leeds happened in parallel with the introduction of Agenda For Change which Mark remembers as being a stressful combination of projects to manage simultaneously, but under his expert guidance it all worked out well, and he also steered the Trust through the introduction of complex new pension schemes in 2008 and 2015.

Throughout his time as Payroll Manager at Leeds, Mark also chaired the Regional Payroll Managers Group for Yorkshire which meets quarterly and serves as a forum for networking, sharing best practice, raising issues and suggesting enhancements to ESR. Mark was also on the ESR National User Group and was the representative for the Northern & Yorkshire region which meant that issues raised by his colleagues at the Payroll Managers meeting always got through to the right ears.

Mark has extensive knowledge of all things payroll and ESR and he and the team at Leeds have been using the ESRconnect software since 2008 so he is very familiar with how to get the best results from our products. ESRconnect continues to form an integral part of the monthly payroll process at Leeds, and Mark often comments that he can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t use it. The fact that Mark is so experienced and accomplished in his field and is such a great advocate of what we do makes working with him all the more rewarding and we are sure that he will make a valuable contribution to ESRconnect, and to our valued NHS users.

A Lifetime of Achievement

Mark retired from Leeds Teaching Hospitals on Christmas Eve 2019 and was quickly presented with not one but two Lifetime Achievement Awards! The first was from Mark’s own Trust in recognition of ‘Excellence, professionalism and leadership in payroll services to Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, our payroll service clients and the wider NHS’.

The second was from the Yorkshire & Humber branch of the HFMA (Health Finance Managers Association) and so impressed were the judges with Mark’s long-standing services to the NHS that they added this category to their awards ceremony specially! Mark is absolutely delighted to have had his efforts recognised in this way, and both awards are extremely well-deserved accolades and fantastic endorsements of all his hard work and dedication for which we offer him huge congratulations.

The HFMA Awards, Jan 2020

A Word From Mark

“After working in NHS payroll for over 40 years I am really excited to be given the opportunity to “apply my trade” in a somewhat different way. When Shaun rang me to ask if I would like to be part of his team and outlined the role he had in mind for me I had no hesitation in accepting his offer. I had already resigned myself to the fact that NHS Payroll was a chapter in my life that I thought was closed. However, working for ESRconnect will allow me to use the skills and experience I have gained over the years to support and maintain a product which I have been an advocate of since its inception some 10 years ago. My aim is to bring my collective knowledge of NHS pay and ESRconnect together to support system development thus ensuring it continues to meet the needs of our customers both now and into the future.”

Mark Johnson, Senior Payroll Specialist, ESRconnect Ltd

What’s next for Mark?

Shortly after his retirement from the NHS, Mark and his wife of 35 years, Muriel embarked on the trip of a lifetime, spending a full month touring Australia! It has long been Mark’s dream to go there so he wasted no time in jetting off and they both had a fantastic and unforgettable time. Mark had always wanted to see the New Year in from Sydney Harbour Bridge, and this year his dream finally became a reality which was an incredible experience for them both.

In their spare time, Mark and Muriel have a touring caravan which they escape in regularly around the UK. They both like to keep active and enjoy countryside walks and are also keen Park Run participants (they did the Melbourne one whilst in Australia). They live in Crofton near Wakefield and have two grown-up children called Kevin and Rachel, and two lovely grandchildren as well, Harriet (3) and Freddie (7m) who are the apples of their grandma and grandad’s eyes. Mark and Muriel often have Harriet and Freddie whilst their parents are at work and they enjoy a close and supportive family life.

Mark & Muriel, Sydney Harbour Bridge, New Years Eve 2019-20

Mark is a keen sportsman – he enjoys football and cricket and played for his village cricket team for 20 years. He is also a member of a local snooker team and plays each week but has told me I’m not allowed to reveal his highest break in this article unfortunately. He also told me that he was once on for a 147 but he missed the third black so make of that what you will!

As many of you will know only too well, payroll is a fast-paced and sometimes stressful environment and Mark and Muriel are looking forward to having more time with each other and the grandchildren following his retirement from the NHS. Mark is keen to stay active in NHS payroll without having quite so much of the responsibility so his role with ESRconnect is ideal for him and we are thoroughly delighted and, to be honest, a little bit honoured to have him with us.

If you’d like to contact Mark, you can email him at mark.johnson@esrconnect.co.uk or give him a call on 0161 711 0500 any time and feel free to leave a comment below if you’d like to say hello. (I’m pretty sure that any snooker-related advice will be gratefully received!)

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