Our weekly guide to healthcare's most influential people

Published: 22/08/2002, Volume II2, No. 5819 Page 9

Name: Mark Outhwaite

Job: Chief executive, Avon, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire strategic health authority

Style: Muck and bullets.Not only is he an exsoldier who can roll a 52-ton armoured vehicle up to the trust offices if necessary, he has also bravely swapped East Kent with its overladen accident and emergency departments and controversial hospital reconfiguration for the charms of Avon - and its three zero-star trusts.

Has a cheery manner and is not one to miss anything that moves: he was also involved in setting up pilot schemes sending patients to France.Does a bit of sailing but turned down the offer of a tank of his own -£3,000 from the local Range Rover dealer, apparently.

Background: Did a surveying degree at Newcastle University and found he liked 'being outside', so joined the Army, rising to the rank of major and leading a tank squadron.Apparently a lot of the skills - developing leadership and so on - are similar to those in the NHS.But NHS managers may not be as happy as Mark is 'running organisations with two tin cans in the middle of the night in a dripping forest'.After 12 years in tanks, he did an MBA and joined the NHS as general manager of Croydon family practitioners committee in 1989 and found himself dealing with the new GP contract.Became chief exec at East Kent HA in 1993, taking in a brief stint covering West Kent as well, then filled the last of the SHA top jobs this year.

Future prospects: Admits: 'I have got a lot on my plate. I have the most challenged health economy in the country.'And a High Court challenge to the Kent reconfiguration may need some attention, too.