A New Konect-ion

Our new partner, Konect Consult recently made this announcement in the UK. “We are delighted to be working with Stapleton International to develop and roll out their Cyber Risk Management programmes. Stapleton International recognised a gap in cyber security training and intervention following discussion with their clients. It became clear that many organisations are unaware of how vulnerable they may be, or indeed what the knowledge and understanding levels amongst staff was.

Stapleton International offer training to raise staff awareness of how their day to day work and personal activities can be the gateway that allows the threat to become a reality is critical. Following on from awareness raising Stapleton can undertake covert interventions that highlight key ‘pressure’ points and areas of weakness. They work very closely with leading industry partners to be able to design and implement bespoke IT solutions. This is supported by their University partners world class research and higher-level university accredited courses.” Welcome on board to the team at Konect.

Under recent consultation announced by the UK Government, firms may face fines up to £17m or 4% of global turnover for not taking effective measures to prevent cyber hacking of their systems and networks being crippled – similar to earlier this summer with the NHS systems.

Minister for digital Matt Hancock said: “We want the UK to be the safest place in the world to live and be online, with our essential services and infrastructure prepared for the increasing risk of cyber attack and more resilient against other threats such as power failures and environmental hazards.”

Is it time to think about your organisation and just how ‘Cyber Savvy’ your staff are?


Fallen Hero?

In Cyber just how do you recognise the goodies from the baddies? This was a question we asked ourselves just ahead of the global rollout of our Cyber Awareness Courses.  It seemed to us, as we stated in our previous blog, that a 22 year old young man, from South West England, was something of an accidental hero.  However, only  a few short months after being credited with solving a major global cyber problem, and probably averting a much bigger set of cyber disasters; our hero was reported as having been arrested for allegedly creating and distributing a malware programme designed to steal sensitive financial data. So, the big question is how do you tell the goodies from the baddies? Especially when the good guy was allegedly also a bad guy? It seems a sad waste of a clearly talented young individual to negate all the great work he did by allegedly undertaking unlawful activity using the very same set of skills and talent. We said in the previous blog that the heroic act of solving the WannaCry issue would not be his only ’10 minutes of fame’.   Little did we think that he would be ‘infamous’ within a few short months.

Global Reach

Having advanced a number of exciting developments for Stapleton in Training and Development, in Consultancy Projects and in Cyber Risk Management; I’m delighted to announce that Professor Vicky Vass has been appointed as Managing Director.  Whilst Vicky will continue to have responsibility for overseeing Stapleton’s global Learning and Development portfolio she now has added responsibility for leading our operations in Australia and the wider Asia region.  This appointment will further strengthen our senior management team.

As we have expanded our portfolio; are extending our global reach and are collaborating with a number of high level partners.  This coupled with our client centric approach means that we are ready to have our ‘bright sparks’ assist you in making your ‘bright sparks’ even brighter.

The Accidental Hero

It may have been accidental, however a 22-year-old from South West England intervened to put the brake on ransomeware WannaCry which spread rapidly across 100 countries. At a cost of just under $11.00, the unsuspecting hero managed to halt the ransomeware outbreak which had brought many NHS trusts and major companies across the globe to a standstill.

Further details are here:


How the mighty figures in Cyber Security must envy the achievement of this guy. I am sure this will not be his only ’10 minutes of fame’ as the researcher is sure to become a household name for his miraculous work. He warns however that it will return, the question many of us ask is – will anyone else out there in the Cyber Industry have a clue how to stop it and be the first to get there? Even accidentally will do please. There is little to be gained by holding another seminar where the issues are tabled, discussed, examined and then put back in the box without a drive for a solution.

The evergreen question whether there will ever be a complete prevention model to Cyber fraud has raised its profile again. Or will the world continue to survive on cures? Similarities to economists trying to predict financial landscapes are clear to see. Almost daily one can gather a continuous stream of advice and comments. Or listen to announcements of new strategies and investments planned to discover the golden solutions. Alas it’s such an evolving world in the growth of information and data, one wonders if it is really ever going to be possible. IBM claim that 90% of the worlds information has been created in the last two years – so at this pace, it will be like trying to outrun Usain Bolt over 100 metres.

In the main sectors we operate in, Marine, Oil & Gas and Health, a shortfall is always apparent. The ICT facility operates as a separate entity and rarely is involved with the ‘real day-to-day work’ as we would term it. To put it another way, there is little engagement by them with the actual operations and when there is, it tends to be following a request for support or help when systems do not perform or a file hast been lost or misplaced. Historically, this is similar to the approach towards the way QA and QC was handled pre ISO 9001 years ago. Due to a number of incidents, this approach had to change and significant improvements were realised. Regularly it was proven that improved performance by all would be achieved if engineers were educated in QA/QC rather than the normal route which was the other way around. We firmly believe this would enhance the operations, image and outputs of the field of Cyber Security. I challenge that it is fundamental that without knowing what procedures and processes are, then how can you seriously attempt to develop a system that fits? We are not knocking other professionals just querying how they can possibly find solutions without the full knowledge of operations. Everyone needs to work together as one combined unit in our respective industries to gain optimum traction and solutions.

Putting it simply, this is similar to obtaining a cook book, buying all the recipe ingredients only to find that when you do get to the kitchen you have no idea how to turn on the appliances; not least use them effectively. All you have is a picture of the finished dish.

As I stated previously, change usually arrives after an unplanned incident. The merits and depth of the change increase proportionally with the sharing of knowledge, best practice and continuous improvement. However, all change at every level will be restricted by the fear of losing commercial advantage and superiority. Unless this attitude and culture is changed, I suspect we will continue to firefight cyber crime until it is too late for any change.

Perhaps I am being naive here but could we not start something together and start chipping away at this problem? It takes time to track down and profile the cyber criminals during which another attack may have been planned and developed. So, if we don’t start we will never finish.

Our Strategic Developments

As any good, forward thinking organisation does, we’ve undertaken a review of our portfolio, carried out a trend analysis and most importantly, listened to our clients.   We have refreshed our strategy to take all of this into account and are now able to offer an even more comprehensive set of services.  We have arranged these into Consultancy and Project Services with a range of services including areas such as Project Management, Audit and Inspection and Cost Management. Training and Development, with Leadership Development, Developing Managers, Dealing with Change and Resilience as some examples of our offer.  We also want to Support You, as our clients in areas where external intervention is required.  We offer Dispute Resolution, Cyber Risk Management, Due Diligence and Compliance.  We are working closely with leading universities to support us with the most up to date research and expertise.

New Horizons

Professor Vicky Vass has joined Stapleton International as our Director of Learning and Development. Vicky joined Stapleton to share her vast experience gained in the global higher education sector, where she was instrumental in engaging universities and industries to work together.  Previously working as a senior leader and manager in UK universities; she also spent a number of years as part of the Senior Leadership Team at the world-renowned Ashridge Business School. Professor Vass is an accomplished strategic leader; team developer; change manager and coach. She works with a range of clients both nationally and internationally. As part of her portfolio Vicky also undertakes bespoke research for clients to help them understand their customer base and to aid their business growth and profit maximisation. Vicky will be reaching out to clients old and new to share how Stapleton can assist in developing and growing your business through learning and development.

Exciting Training Scheme Launch



Stapleton International in collaboration with the University of Sunderland, have developed a Project Management Training Programme to be delivered in a modular format which is designed with basic and advanced levels. This exciting new initiative will facilitate the transfer of knowledge and experience of Lessons Learned to both individual and corporate delegates. The courses are modular and delivered in two levels – basic and

The basic three day course comprises:
•framing the project
•key standards and governance docs
•scope of work
•cost estimation
•risk management
•contracting strategy
•stakeholder management
•organisation / team structure /alignment
•change control
•functional project reviews, assurance and peer group assists

The advanced course is also modular delivered over three days and comprises:
•Inspirational Leadership
•Courageous Conversations
•Managing across Cultures
Courses can be delivered in-house or off-site. Cohorts can be a mix of individuals or corporate upon request.

Learning outcomes
•How to assess, select, execute and operate a “Live“ project in your Industry.
•How to lead project teams to success in complex, multi-dimensional environments
•Gain a professional and academically accredited qualification in project leadership

Stapleton International will provide a University of Sunderland Certificate of attendance to all delegates completing approved courses for use in respect of individual CPD requirements. Delegates wishing to receive endorsement by the University of Sunderland can apply to undertake a work-based assignment as part of this assessment. Further studies of this subject are available within the University undergraduate and post graduate programmes, details of which will be supplied upon request.

For details of these courses and to discuss bespoke offerings please contact





What future for the price per barrel?

There is much speculation surrounding the oil price. Today the price of Brent Crude has fallen below $30 a barrel for the first time in twelve years. This was pre iPhone and FaceBook days and when gold was $400 an ounce if anyone wants a time marker. However, despite the advances of social media, gold now being above $1000 per ounce and massive cut backs in costs by the industry leaders, it is doubtful that crude will stay at this price. Many economists predict that it still has at least another $10 to fall, questioning only how quickly this will happen. This really does pose a lot of questions, not least why the drop in price. For many that answer is fairly simple – supply and demand.

Between 2010 and 2014 oil demand was soaring around the world, as countries recovered from the financial crisis, but global production was struggling to keep up. Many older oil fields were stagnating. Conflicts in places like Libya and Iraq were restricting supply. Countries had to draw down their stockpiles, and prices soared to around $100 per barrel. Add into the equation for instance that US crude oil production has nearly doubled since 2010. Eventually, supply caught up with demand — and then surpassed it. That’s when the crash came.

By mid-2014, global demand was starting to slow down. Europe was still reeling from the eurozone mess. China’s economy was starting to stumble. But the United States was still producing more and more oil. Iraq and Libya were also starting to bring back more production. So prices began sliding. many people expected Saudi Arabia and other oil producers in OPEC to cut back on their own production to prop up prices, as they have in the past.

Surprisingly, that didn’t happen. Saudi Arabia decided to increase production in order to maintain market share, hoping that the subsequent fall in oil prices would crush other oil producers such as US frackers, who require higher prices to stay profitable. Major developing countries like China and Brazil have been in a slump, putting a damper on oil consumption. That’s the basic dynamic. As long as supply far outstrips demand, oil prices will stay relatively low.

With reserves at record levels, investment banks are revising their already pessimistic forecasts lower. Morgan Stanley has become the latest bank to predict prices would fall to $20, while Royal Bank of Scotland forecast for markets is a low of $16 – and Standard Chartered said the market could reach $10. They also commented this is when most of the money managers in the market would concede that matters had gone too far. I always thought it would not be long before this sector would get involved. A concern over bonuses no doubt will prompt some serious action just as a shaky economy of the world’s biggest producers will force some action. It’s a shame that people involved in Oil and Gas have lesser effect on their futures.


The underlying cause of the Oil Price Drop?

Connections with the Oil and Gas Sector in excess of 30 years and first-hand  experience helping the ‘Majors’ successfully develop marginal fields for substantially less $10 a barrel in the mid and late 1990’s, mean that I have long been amazed at how the fall in oil prices has the effect it has. At a recent conference in Singapore several keynote speakers alluded to some key reasons. My suspicions were confirmed as it became clearer that maybe it was not the majors but in fact their investors who have cold feet when it comes to ‘price-drops’. The following Reuters News article is enlightening if nothing else and suggest the oil companies are perhaps the victims of investor pressure.

The dramatic fall in oil prices since the middle of last year cannot be explained by changes in production and consumption alone, with hedging and energy firms’ high debt levels also playing a part, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) said on Saturday. The BIS, which represents central banks around the world, compared oil’s recent fall, which saw prices collapse to below US$50 a barrel from levels of above US$100, with declines in 1996 and 2006 and concluded that unlike on previous occasions, oil production has been close to expectations this time and consumption was only slightly below forecasts. While the recent decision by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries not to cut production has been key to the fall, other factors could have exacerbated it, the BIS said.

These included increased indebtedness in the oil sector in recent years. The Basel-based organisation said this greater debt burden may have had an influence on the oil market itself. “Against this background of high debt, a fall in the price of oil weakens the balance sheets of producers and tightens credit conditions, potentially exacerbating the price drop as a result of sales of oil assets,” it said. The BIS said reduced cash flows as a result of a lower oil price heightened the risk of firms being unable to meet interest payments and this could lead them to continue pumping oil to maintain cash flows, delaying a reduction in supply. This may be a particular factor in emerging markets, where a stronger dollar would hit indebted companies even harder. An increased reliance by oil producers on swap dealers as counterparties for their hedging since 2010 may also have played a part. Dealers may “at times of heightened volatility and balance sheet strain for leveraged entities … become less willing to sell protection to oil producers”, the BIS said. It said volatility in oil prices “suggests dealers may have behaved procyclically — cutting back positions whenever financial conditions become more turbulent”. This may have led producers wishing to hedge falling revenues to turn to derivatives markets directly and could have played a role in recent price movements. REUTERS

Restitution Sans Rescission: Exposing the Myth of a Fallacy

Just prior to the Christmas break, I had a very interesting meeting with Daniel Morris of HHG Legal Group – Perth WA. Daniel told me about a very interesting paper he has written which challenges how we consider a contractors rights. The abstract of the paper is as follows.

Critics of Renard Constructions (ME) Pty Ltd v Minister for Public Works (1992) 26 NSWLR 234 say the Court in that case confused termination with rescission when awarding restitutionary quantum meruit (“RQM”) to the plaintiff contractor against the repudiating principal. This alleged confusion became known as the “rescission fallacy”. This paper seeks to disprove the existence of the rescission fallacy and goes on to argue that in fact, Renard and subsequent cases did not go far enough because they only established the contractor’s right to “get what its work is worth” where the contract’s failure was the principal’s fault. In fact, a repudiating contractor should be recognised as having the same rights because RQM has not been fault-based since unjust enrichment replaced implied promise or quasi-contract as the juridical basis for RQM awards.

For interested parties who wish to view the full paper, it is published by the Australian Law Journal.