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Aon Ireland’s new CEO on the importance of resilience

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‘Resilience allows companies to adapt quickly to change and to maintain business operations, while creating a workplace where people thrive’, said Rachael Ingle, Aon Ireland’s new CEO.

As someone who has recently been appointed CEO of Aon Ireland, the Irish branch of the multinational professional services and insurance giant, Rachael Ingle is at the top of her game.

The Dubliner has worked with the company since 1998 and was appointed to lead it in March. She has had a number of different roles throughout her time working for Aon, and it’s no surprise she has learned a lot.

Future Human

Ingle spoke to SiliconRepublic.com about her career path so far and why she thinks it’s important to stay agile, resilient and future-focused in the business she’s in.

Ingle’s timing to take the top job at Aon Ireland has come at a challenging time, post-pandemic ­– a fact she is well aware of. She is tasked with leading the company out of the storm generated by Covid-19. Aon has been in Ireland for more than 100 years, but Ingle has her eyes on the future for both the company and its clients.

‘From assessing the programmes already in place and boosting performance through employee health and benefit programmes, to building bespoke solutions that provide for a secure retirement, our team at Aon Ireland are making sure business leaders have the tools and solutions to build a more resilient and inclusive workforce’ – RACHAEL INGLE

“For me, navigating the pandemic really solidified the need to keep a firm eye on the future and not to be solely focused on short term challenges,” she said.

“One of the most important things I’ve learnt at Aon is the vital importance of agility and the need to continually embrace change. Standing still can be risky for any business or leader. Our business has been continually evolving over the decades to meet the changing needs of organisations and their people.”

Ingle has had a hand in Aon’s development over the years, having previously served as joint managing director of Aon Hewitt Ireland which involved bringing together the two organisations under Aon’s branding.

“Bringing together the Aon and Hewitt businesses demonstrated to me the need to lead with conviction and to gain the buy-in of employees. Keeping focused on the vision for the combined organisation and encouraging each team members to play a key role in transforming the business helped to drive growth throughout a changing time,” she said.

It looks as if Ingle will use some of what she learned back then to guide her through her current challenge. And she is keen to impart her wisdom – and the importance of resilience – to her colleagues.

Over the past 12-18 months, Aon has been championing the theme of ‘Rising Resilience’ globally, according to Ingle.

“We strongly believe that resilient businesses and workforces are sources of security and purpose in an uncertain world. Resilience allows companies to adapt quickly to change and to maintain business operations, while creating a workplace where people thrive.”

In Ireland, Aon has been working with many of the country’s leading employers to “help build resilient workforces that are prepared to withstand today’s volatility and future disruptions.”

Those disruptions, as we all know, include the climate crisis, political instability, changing consumer demands and talent shortages. At Future Human 2022, Aon’s global lead, Eric Andersen, told the audience about his own optimism for the frightening future we all face.

So, what does resilience mean to Ingle? “Resilience requires visionary leadership, a continuous dialogue with your workforce, and a well-rounded programme of wellbeing that supports diverse needs.”

“From assessing the programmes already in place and boosting performance through employee health and benefit programmes, to building bespoke solutions that provide for a secure retirement, our team at Aon Ireland are making sure business leaders have the tools and solutions to build a more resilient and inclusive workforce.”

That last point on inclusion is clearly important to Ingle. She is a member of Aon’s Global Inclusive Leadership Council, which provides advice, recommendations and accountability for the company’s diversity and inclusion strategy. It was founded in 2020.

‘You need to be open to learning new things – a career is a journey. Although some core leadership principles tend to stay the same, client needs and the optimum ways in which to engage and motivate your teams are always changing’ – RACHAEL INGLE

Throughout her career, Ingle has been inspired by women role models, from her own mother, Ann Ingle, who wrote a book of essays about her life aged 82 in the middle of the pandemic, to Microsoft Ireland’s former MD, Cathriona Hallahan.

“Cathriona is a great role model for women in Irish business, having worked her way up within Microsoft over the course of some 30 years to lead one of the biggest multinational tech corporations in Ireland. Although more a role model than a mentor, she’s someone I’ve always admired and looked up to in my career to date,” Ingle said.

The Dubliner is now leading a team around 700 workers in Ireland, not so much following in her role model’s footsteps as carving out her own path.

But Ingle emphasises that she is only as good as the people she surrounds herself with and learns from. As a leader, she believes it is important to be self-aware and to keep learning so the business does not go stale.

“You need to be open to learning new things – a career is a journey. Although some core leadership principles tend to stay the same, client needs and the optimum ways in which to engage and motivate your teams are always changing.

“Therefore, you have to possess the self-awareness to know when an old habit needs to evolve, whether you need to upskill in a certain area or get advice from someone else on the team. As a leader, it’s important to keep learning but you can’t know everything and that’s why it’s important to surround yourself with the right people, who are talented, hard-working and passionate about their roles.”

Ingle concluded the chat saying that it was important to recognise the strengths of each individual team member to give them the support that they need to carry out their best work.

“Sometimes, this involves creating a safe space to take risks, secure in the knowledge that without risk there can be no innovation and innovation is what drives a company and people forward.”

It’s a fine line between balancing employees’ interests and the future growth of the well-established company that employs them, but Ingle seems to be resilient enough to take on the task.

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Welsh council extends contract for Oracle EBS 12.1 • The Register

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Swansea City Council has been forced to extend an IT service provider contract to keep its unsupported and unpatched ERP system up and running because its replacement is running two years behind.

A procurement document published last week shows Infosys was awarded £2 million contract (c $2.40 million) extension, until 30 November 2023, to support the Welsh council’s Oracle eBusiness Suite ERP system while it waits for the replacement Oracle Fusion system to be ready. It takes Infosys’s total for supporting the old system to £6.7 million (c $8.1 million).

Council documents reveal the authority runs its finance and HR systems on EBS R12.1, which moved into Oracle Sustaining Support in January 2022 and will therefore no longer receive new fixes, updates, or security patches.

In 2019, the council approved plans to move to Oracle Fusion [PDF] in the expectation that the new system would be live by November 2020.

However, the council had to change the schedule due to time lost to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Council risked failing its Public Service Network accreditation: report

It said using unsupported software “increased the risk of cyber-attacks and potential data theft” while there was also “a risk payroll may not function, staff and pensioners may not be paid.” The report also said the council risked failing its Public Service Network (PSN) accreditation, which meant it could be prevented from sharing data with the health service, police, and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

However, in March 2020, the council invoked a force majeure clause – which alters parties’ contractual obligations – with the support provider Infosys and began discussions to resume the program.

It opted to suspend the program and start back up in February 2021, with the aim to go live in October 2021. The plans said Infosys had agreed to absorb additional costs for this extension.

It said Oracle had agreed to extend support from November 2020 to 2022 so it could get regular updates and patches. “Although this risk still exists, it has been mitigated,” it said.

Given the council has awarded a contract well after the planned go-live of its replacement, it seems those assumptions are under threat. The council has so far failed to respond to The Register‘s request for comment.

Its Fusion project might provide some lessons for the London Borough of Waltham Forest, which plans to have its core solution – a move away from an ageing SAP ERP system – live within a year of the project’s start.

Other councils have learned about the complexity of ERP projects the hard way. In December last year, The Register revealed that West Sussex County Council was facing a two-year delay to a £7.5 million ($9.2 million) Oracle ERP project to replace its 20-year-old SAP system with Fusion. Surrey County Council has also seen its project to move from SAP to Unit4 delayed and incur additional costs. ®

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Sony shifts focus to PC gamers with new Inzone monitors and headsets

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Sony aims to boost the ‘growth of gaming culture’ with two 27-inch monitors and three headsets, designed for both PC and Playstation gamers.

Sony has announced a batch of new monitors and headsets with a focus on PC gamers, as the company looks to reach out to more than its core Playstation audience.

The Inzone range consists of two 27-inch monitors and three headsets, which are all designed to enhance a gamer’s experience. While the main target appears to be PC gamers, the products have features that suit PS5 users.

Sony said its Inzone M9 monitor has 4K resolution and a high contrast with full array local dimming, designed to boost the detail of gaming scenes in deep black and brightness. The monitor also has a 144Hz refresh rate, an IPS display and a 1ms response time. Sony said the monitor will help lead to quicker reactions, which is a clear benefit for competitive PC gamers.

Meanwhile, the M3 monitor will have a 240Hz refresh rate, along with variable refresh rate technology to help gamers “capture movements of rivals in shooter games”.

To go with the monitors, Sony is releasing two wireless headsets, along with the wired Inzone H3 model. The Inzone H9 will have 32 hours of battery life, while the H7 model will have 40 hours.

Speaking on the products, Sony’s head of game business and marketing office Yukihiro Kitajima said there has been a higher interest in gaming with the spread of e-sports tournaments and the advancement of gaming entertainment.

“With Sony’s strong history of high-end audio and visual technology products, we believe this new line will offer even more options for those looking to upgrade their current gaming systems,” Kitajima said.

“We are committed to contributing to the growth of gaming culture by providing PC and PlayStation gamers with a wider range of options to enrich lives through gaming.”

The Inzone headsets range from €300 to €100 and are expected to launch in July, while the M9 monitor is due to launch in the Summer at a cost of €1099. Sony said the pricing and availability of the M3 monitor is expected to be revealed sometime this year.

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Why US women are deleting their period tracking apps | Privacy

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Many American women in recent days have deleted period tracking apps from their cellphones, amid fears the data collected by the apps could be used against them in future criminal cases in states where abortion has become illegal.

The trend already started last month when a draft supreme court opinion that suggested the court was set to overturn Roe v Wade was leaked, and has only intensified since the court on Friday revoked the federal right to abortion.

These concerns are not baseless. As with various other apps, cycle trackers collect, retain and at times share some of their users’ data. In a state where abortion is a crime, prosecutors could request information collected by these apps when building a case against someone. “If they are trying to prosecute a woman for getting an illegal abortion, they can subpoena any app on their device, including period trackers,” said Sara Spector, a Texas-based criminal defense attorney, and ex-prosecutor.

“But every company has their individual storage and privacy policy about how they use and how long they store data,” Spector added.

Cycle trackers are popular for a reason. Nearly a third of American women have been using them, according to a 2019 survey published by the Kaiser Family Foundation. They have helped make women’s lives easier in many ways, from family planning and detecting early signs of health issues to choosing the perfect time for a holiday.

A 2019 study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) found that 79% of health apps available through the Google Play store that were related to medicine, including apps that help manage drugs, adherence, medicines, or prescribing information, regularly shared user data and were “far from transparent”. But many of the big players have made progress over the past years.

A smartphone sits on a light wooden table showing the period tracker app Clue in the Google Play store.
The Berlin-based period tracker app Clue says it does not store sensitive personal data without the user’s explicit permission. Photograph: Piotr Swat/Alamy

Two of the most popular period trackers in the US, Flo and Clue, have more than 55 million users combined. The Berlin-based app Clue said it was “committed to protecting” users’ private health data and that it was operating under strict European GDPR laws. The company’s website says the app collects device data, event and usage data, in addition to a user’s IP address, health and sensitive data it may use for the purpose of improving the app, the services, and preventing abusive use of its service. But Clue does not track users’ precise location, and says it does not store sensitive personal data without a user’s explicit permission. The company also tweeted that it would have a “primary legal duty under European law” not to disclose any private health data and it would “not respond to any disclosure request or attempted subpoena of their users’ health data by US authorities”.

But just because data is being processed by a European company, doesn’t mean that it is entirely immune from US prosecution, said Lucie Audibert, a lawyer at Privacy International, a global NGO that researches, litigates and advocates against abuses of technology and data by governments and corporations.

“The fact that GDPR applies is not that relevant in this case. When it comes to a legitimate legal request from US authorities European companies usually comply. Also, a European company may be hosting data outside the EU, making it subject to different legal frameworks and cross-border agreements,” Audibert added. She also stressed that using a Europe-based app won’t protect women from the courts requesting data from them directly. But it can be a slightly better option than using a US-based one because US companies are more easily compelled to comply with American authorities and courts’ requests. Enforcement is more difficult against European ones.

Flo has come under fire for sharing its users’ data before. The company says on its website it only uses data “for research activities” and that it only uses “de-identified or aggregated data, which cannot be associated” with specific users. But an investigative piece by the Wall Street Journal has found that the app informed Facebook when a user was on their period or if they intended to get pregnant. In 2021, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reached a settlement with Flo. Under the settlement, Flo must undergo an independent review of its privacy policy and obtain user permissions before sharing personal health information. Flo did not admit any wrongdoing.

On Friday, Flo announced that it will soon be launching an “Anonymous mode” that can help keep users’ data safe in any circumstances.

The company did not respond to a request for comment.

A relatively new, astrology-focused period tracker, Stardust, became the most downloaded free app on iOS in the days after the supreme court’s decision. Stardust’s Twitter bio says it is a “privacy first period tracking app”. But as Vice News reported, the company stated in its privacy policy that if authorities ask for user data, it will comply, whether legally required to or not. It said that the data was “anonymized” and “encrypted”.

“We may disclose your anonymized, encrypted information to third parties in order to protect the legal rights, safety and security of the company and the users of our services; enforce our terms of service; prevent fraud; and comply with or respond to law enforcement or a legal process or a request for cooperation by a government or other entity, whether or not legally required,” their privacy policy stated as of Monday.

Following Vice’s request for comment, Stardust changed its privacy policy to omit the phrase about cooperating with law enforcement “whether or not legally required” to “when legally required”.

Stardust did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Planned Parenthood encourages people to use their app Spot On. “People who want to track their periods and birth control always have the option to remain anonymous by using the Spot On app without creating an account,” the organization said in a statement. “This way, period or birth control data is only saved locally to a person’s phone and can be deleted at any time by deleting the app.”

Third-party apps are not the only option when it comes to period trackers. Apple has a built-in cycle tracker in its Health app that offers more privacy than most external apps. With just a few steps, one can turn off the storing of their health data in iCloud, and it also has the option to store the encrypted data on their computer or phone.

Evan Greer, deputy director of the non-profit advocacy group Fight for the Future, said the best way to protect sensitive health data was to only use apps that store data locally rather than in the cloud. “Because any app where a company [that could receive a subpoena] has access to their users’ data could make it vulnerable for a legal request.”

An image of an Apple iPhone screen shows app icons, including the Health app.
Apple’s Health app has a built-in cycle tracker that offers users privacy. Photograph: Richard Sheppard/Alamy

Eva Blum-Dumontet, a tech policy consultant, said, “It is normal that in times of concern, people are looking differently at technology and apps that we trusted.

“I think when there is a discourse around whether women should delete these apps, we have to think about why they use them in the first place,” Blum-Dumontet said. “These trackers help them manage menstrual cycle when they are experiencing pain.”

Blum-Dumontet stressed that instead of asking users to change their behaviors, “it is period trackers that should change their practices”.

“They should never have owned so much data in the first place. If they adopted practices like storing data locally and minimizing the data to what’s strictly necessary we wouldn’t be having this debate now. It’s not too late for them to do the right thing,” she said.

“The companies that have been making a profit out of women’s bodies need to think very carefully about how they will protect their users,” she continued.They haven’t all been the best in the past when it comes to data sharing. The only way they can survive in this market, the only way they can make themselves trustworthy is by improving their privacy policy and giving users more control over their data,” she said. “If any of these apps will be used in court against their users, it will not be good PR for them.”

Melissa, a 27-year-old mother from Texas who is goingby only her first name to not jeopardize her employment, said she deleted the app because she fears that when she travels, her state could use her missed period data against her.

“I will miss using the app so much. I have used it for so many things, like tracking my ovulation or predicting my mood changes. Sometimes I wake up feeling irritable, and I don’t know why until my app tells me that this could be normal at this point of my cycle,” she added. Melissa also says she would have loved to use it for future conceptions, but now she can’t.

Although much of the warnings on Friday were focused on just period trackers these are not the only apps that can be used against users when it comes to criminal prosecution, experts warned.

“Google Maps or a random game on your phone could just as easily be weaponized against someone as a menstrual tracking app,” Greer said. “While we need to educate each other and take precautions, it’s not OK to put the responsibility solely on individuals. Companies and lawmakers need to act immediately to protect people.”

The concerns over period tracking data are part of a broader conversation about the amount of personal information smartphones collect. Women’s rights organizations all over the world are warning users to be more mindful of their digital presence, not just when it comes to period trackers.

Cycle tracking apps can be hugely useful for many women, said Jonathan Lord, UK medical director for MSI Reproductive Choices. “But all data can be used against you.”

According to Lord, this danger will remain until “we treat abortion like all other healthcare – regulated like all other medical procedures, but not criminalized”.



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