Security Market Segment LS
Tuesday, 13 September 2022 10:27

VIDEO INTERVIEW: Elliot Dellys explains Phronesis' A-Class security, B-Corp certification and seeing the importance of mental wellness


Cyber security has never been more important than it is today, with cyber criminals craftier than ever at breaking into networks, misusing malware, ramping up ransomware attacks, causing havoc with hacking during the COVID chaos, all of which needs the resolute response of pragmatic security solutions - but that's not all, with the impressive Elliot Dellys joining iTWireTV to tell us more.

Phronesis Security. Founded in 2021 by philosopher and former ASD operations manager Elliot Dellys, who is now CEO and “Chief Realist,” the company is Australia’s first B-Corp certified cyber security firm.

Trusted by government agencies and technology start-ups to provide pragmatic security solutions, the firm prides itself on its unique business model that dedicates a proportion of revenue to high impact charities that are helping solve the world's greatest challenges.

Specialising in world-class governance, risk and compliance services, cutting-edge penetration testing, innovative security architecture, tailored security awareness and education campaigns, as well as security management and strategy through its proven vCISO offering, the company’s B Corp certification was certified in June 2022, genuinely making it the first such cybersecurity company in Australia, and comes in recognition of the positive impact created through its business operations.

More detail on the B-Corp certification is below, but first, here is our video interview with Elliot Dellys, followed by a summary of the topics we spoke about, where Elliot also talks about the importance of mental health in the sector, which in 2022 and beyond is also vitally important.

The video interview is embedded below, after which is a summary of the topics we spoke about, so please watch and read on!

  • I started by introducing Elliot, and asked him to introduce Phronesis Security to us all, the products and services offered, and the difference the company offers to the market.

  • We discussed the name Phronesis and why it was chosen, after which Elliot explained why B Corp certification is important, and the difference it makes. 

  • Elliot explained the philanthropic model, which you can also read more about below, why he was inspired to adopt it, and how this fits into the mission of doing cyber security for good.

  • Next we looked at the dedicated mental health and community leave Phronesis offers its staff, and how this is also a very important development in the modern world.

  • After this we looked at a typical onboard process for new customers and the lengths taken to understand each customer’s situation.

  • We concluded with memories of Elliot’s first computer, his history in the world of tech and cyber security, great advice received in life, and his final message to viewers, readers, customers and partners.

So, what is more detail on Phronesis Security?

The company has also deployed a corporate philanthropy model, inspired by effective altruism and the 80,000 hours project, in which 10% of monthly profit (capped to 3% of revenue ) is donated to a small number of highly effective charities, selected through a rigorous process to ensure the greatest impact per dollar.

Phronesis Security works with an array of clients including government, critical infrastructure, charities, payment providers and technology start-ups.

Achieving an assessment score of 102.2 from B Lab, and exceeding the minimum certification score of 80 that is calculated through a rigorous assessment measuring the company’s overall positive impact on the environment, community, customers, governance, and workers, the company also scored highly for its overall mission transparency and business ethics, with a number of internal initiatives designed to reward environmental awareness, employee wellbeing and culture rather than sales figures and business development.

Recognised in the B Corp ‘Workers’ score, Phronesis Security also offers a raft of handsome employee benefits as labour shortages increase and the war for talent in the cybersecurity sector heats up. Phronesis consultants receive generous training allowances, dedicated mental health and community leave, work from home office and ICT allowances, and a remote-by-default policy that provides employees with access to coworking spaces over 750 locations across 38 countries.

Underpinning the impressive B Corp impact score is the company's monthly charity donations, embedded into the core operating model of the business and dedicated to supporting charities that are internally validated as being amongst the most effective per-dollar in Australia: Against Malaria Foundation, Australian Indigenous Education Foundation and Carbon Positive Australia.

In the 12 months since launching, Phronesis Security has been able to support the building of 1,433 anti-malaria bed nets, approximately 24% of the cost of an Indigenous tertiary education scholarship, and offset 244 tonnes of CO2 equivalent against a calculated annual footprint of 79.45 tonnes. The plan is for the company’s impact to scale with growth.

Phronesis Security proudly believes no client should work with them due to their donation model, which it sees as a happy by-product of its mission of doing ‘cyber security for good’. The Melbourne-based firm attracts and retains its clients through a deep commitment to tackling cyber security as a business challenge, rather than a technology challenge, in which communication and understanding the client’s core business and culture are utterly essential.

In a sector where improving social and environmental impact is often not the core focus, Phronesis Security CEO and Founder Elliot Dellys has a vision where corporate philanthropy is the norm, not the exception, and hopes his model will be adopted by more in the sector and broader business community.

Dellys said: “We’re proud to be a part of the B Corp community and hope to demonstrate how maximising impact need not come at the expense of growth. When I worked in the Australian Signals Directorate, mission was at the core of everything we did, and that sense of purpose was something I sought to emulate in my own company. At Phronesis Security, every billable hour contributes to our social and environmental impact. It is part of who we are and guides us towards staff and clientele who share our values and vision.

“Our model is predicated on giving the team a data-driven mission that’s tied to clear, tangible impacts. We leave work every day knowing that what we’ve done isn’t just helping our clients protect their crown jewels, but also protecting our planet and disadvantaged people. It’s our way of using our skills to generate the greatest possible impact.”

B Corp Impact and Engagement Manager Kira Day welcomed Phronesis Security into the B Corp community, stating: “We congratulate Phronesis on joining our community of Certified B Corporations in Australia and around the world. B Corp Certification is one of the ways businesses can demonstrate that they are committed to being accountable and making decisions with a long-term view. For most businesses, including Phronesis, this milestone is a huge achievement — but also the start of a journey of continuous improvement.”

On top of its philanthropic model, emissions reduction has been a core pillar of Phronesis Security’s operations. The company has leaned on the guidance and support of charity partner, Carbon Positive Australia to drastically reduce its emissions and implement a robust carbon offset strategy.

Chief Executive of Carbon Positive Australia, Louise Tarrier says of the partnership with Phronesis, “We are always delighted to partner with B Corp organisations because we begin from a place of shared values. Our partnership with Phronesis assists us in planting native trees across Australia. These trees sequester carbon and increase biodiversity by providing habitat for flora and fauna”.

The B Corp certification comes off the back of the firm recently becoming a PCI DSS Qualified Security Assessor Company, giving Phronesis Security the ability to perform compliance audits for organisations storing or processing credit card information. With the two certifications it aims to nurture its impact model while simultaneously bolstering its impressive growth by maintaining the highest standards of service delivery.

So, please watch the video interview with Elliot Dellys above to learn more!

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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