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Sarah Bailey, Penten CFO and Company Secretary and Sonali Sachdeva, Penten Financial Controller have been named as finalists in the Women in Finance Awards.

Sarah Bailey is finalist in the Director of the Year category and Sonali Sachdeva is finalist in the Mentor of the Year category.

The finalist list, which was announced on Tuesday, 13 July, features over 250 high-achieving professionals across 28 submission-based categories.

Sarah Bailey, began at Penten as the CFO in 2018 and took on many portfolios such as strategic finance while also leading Penten’s governance, secretarial and human resources functions. In 2020, she took on the role of Company Secretary and in February last year Bailey accepted a position on Penten’s Board of Directors. She became Penten’s first female and non-founder board member.

Bailey, set the foundations for Penten’s substantial rapid growth. In the last year, Penten’s staff numbers increased by 73% and revenue by 50%. Bailey has been instrumental in guiding the company through the stages of start-up to SME to large company.

Bailey felt honoured to receive news of becoming a finalist, but was even more proud of her team members; Jenny Rau, nominee for Accountant of the Year and Sonali Sachdeva, finalist for Mentor of the Year for getting involved and putting themselves out there.

Bailey offered advice to others in the industry, “Get involved. Be curious. Finance has a bigger strategic role. You can significantly contribute to business decision-making with your finance lens”.

Sonali Sachdeva has been with Penten from start-up phase and has helped grow the Finance team from two to nine employees in a short period of time. While coaching the many new staff members, Sachdeva continued to keep Penten on track through their first external audit and all the challenges of scaling up rapidly.

Sachdeva set up many of Penten’s finance systems, processes and protocols. She insists Finance can be a creative career choice, despite its “misconceptions about meticulous people”.

Sachdeva encourages others to be themselves and get your hands dirty. “There is no place for ego in leadership. You need to be authentic, be candid and honest about your own abilities and leverage your strengths,” she said.

The Women in Finance Awards was founded by Momentum Media in 2017 to celebrate female leaders, role models and future champions within the financial industry.

This esteemed awards program provides a platform for remarkable women leading in their field to be acknowledged and celebrated for their outstanding achievements and contributions to the industry.

This year, the Women in Finance Awards not only celebrates the trailblazers of the industry, but also acknowledges the work of all women within the financial industry for their exceptional effort and dedication to clients during a year of constant change and challenge.

Annie Kane, editor of mortgages at Momentum Media, commented: “Since its inception, the whole concept of the Women in Finance Awards has been to champion and profile the amazing women working in financial services — an industry that has been, and remains, typically male-dominated.

“This year, we were thrilled to see that a record number of people nominated their friends, colleagues and peers for an award, demonstrating the growing outpouring of support for those leading the way — and a desire to create more female role models in this space.

“Congratulations to all of the finalists of the fifth annual Women in Finance Awards who are helping more Australians than ever to manage their financial situations, improve their financial literacy and grow their businesses.

The winners will be announced at a gala event in Sydney on 2 September 2021.

Penten, one of Australia’s leading national security technology companies, has officially released its updated AltoCrypt pBox product, an anti-eavesdropping device.

First launched in 2018, the pBox is a portable container designed to prevent mobile phones from listening in on sensitive and classified conversations.

The 2021 upgraded version has: updated software, improved locking system, faster charging of device, custom parts and a sleek new look.

The product allows workers to remain in close contact with their phones in important meetings and secure facilities, without the risk of the phone eavesdropping or collecting video.

The new pBox design is manufactured in Australia with new enhancements and at a lower cost than the previous model due to a sovereign partnership between GME and Penten.

The custom manufacturing by Penten and GME in Australia allows for larger quantities of the product to be built at a significantly lower price, allowing Penten to pass this saving directly through to customers.

GME manages this by leveraging off its robust supply chain, its state-of-the-art Surface Mount Technology (SMT) manufacturing equipment and production facilities. SMT is a method in which the electrical components are mounted directly onto the surface of a printed circuit board (PCB). This method increases manufacturing automation reducing cost and improving quality.

“The pBox is one of our flagship products and we are thrilled to be able to bring this new iteration to market,” Penten’s General Manager, Business Strategy, Joshua Bolton said.

“In addition to providing security and peace of mind to our customers, our new pBox is entirely made in Australia with our manufacturing partner GME,” Mr Bolton said.

“Penten has always believed that Australia is well placed to be a global hub for national security technology and this product is proof it’s possible to cost effectively manufacture in Australia,” he said.

“Given the wealth of knowhow and capability in Australia, there is no reason why the country cannot forge a path as a global technology leader,” Mr Bolton said.

“GME is extremely proud to be contributing to enhancing Australia’s national security by providing sovereign industrial capability from our manufacturing facility based in Winston Hills, Sydney.” GME’s Defence Program Manager, Winslow Tam said.

pBox comes under Penten’s Secure Mobility division, which also manufactures the AltoCrypt Phone and AltoCrypt Stik.

Marcus Thompson Penten

Marcus Thompson AM PhD has joined Penten’s Board of Directors, bringing with him over 30 years of experience in the Australian Defence Force (ADF).

Dr Thompson joins Penten to help support its rapid growth, underpinned by its work with defence and government clients.

His most recent job in defence was as the inaugural head of the Information Warfare Division, where he led defence force capabilities in cyber, electronic warfare, intelligence, space, artificial intelligence, and command and control.

“I am thrilled to be joining the Board of Directors at Penten, who are a standout example of Australia’s booming cyber and national security industry,” Dr Thompson said.

“Penten’s focus on secure mobility, applied AI and tactical communications is a natural fit for my previous experience and I am looking forward to helping them as they continue to grow and prosper as a company,” he said.

“The battlespace of the future will increasingly be a digital one.  Companies like Penten will be leading the charge to help keep Australia safe,” Dr Thompson said.

Penten CEO Matthew Wilson said Dr Thompson’s appointment was a vote of confidence in the company as it continues to grow.

“From five founders in 2014, to 120 staff today, Penten has grown into one of Australia’s leading cyber technology companies,” Mr Wilson said.

“Since 2017, when the Information Warfare Division was founded, the Australian cyber industry has developed tremendously and is the best example of sovereign capability development in the national security field,” he said.

“Cyber is proving to be Australia’s best chance to create a world leading national security sector, one where our products and capabilities can be exported worldwide, especially to our five-eyes partners,” Mr Wilson said.


About Marcus Thompson

Major General Marcus Thompson graduated from the Royal Military College in 1988 and was allocated to the Royal Australian Corps of Signals. He served in a variety of command, regimental and Special Operations appointments including: Command of the 3rd Combat Signal Regiment; secondment to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) as the Senior Advisor Defence Policy and Operations; Director General Special Operations Capability; Commander 6th Combat Support Brigade; and deployments to East Timor, Iraq, and Afghanistan. His final appointment was as the inaugural Head of Information Warfare for the Australian Defence Force.

Since leaving the Australian Army, Marcus has founded Cyber Compass Pty Ltd, an independent advisory focused on improving cyber security and developing sovereign Australian capability.  He is also a Director of Engineers Australia, having been elected in November 2019.

Marcus holds a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering with honours from the University of New South Wales, a Bachelor of Business from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, a Masters Degree in Defence Studies from the University of Canberra, a Masters Degree in Strategic Studies from Deakin University, and a PhD in Cyber Security from the University of New South Wales. He was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in the 2014 Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

Penten would like to congratulate Jordan Johnson for receiving a commended certification in the Young Achiever Awards at the ACT AIDN (Australian Industry Defence Network) event last night.

Jordan received the award for his dedication and contribution to Penten’s Secure Mobility unit, specifically as Lead Software Engineer for the AltoCrypt Phone.

The AltoCrypt Phone is one of Penten’s most important products and is used by several Australian Government departments and Defence. It was especially beneficial during COVID-19 as it allowed government workers to flexibly access sensitive information.

Alison Creagh AM CSC was one of the judges and presented the awards to the recipients.  She said it was a privilege to read and learn about the endeavours of the young defence industry members and congratulated them for their significant contributions.

Matthew Wilson, CEO, Penten congratulated Johnson’s leadership and dedication during his time at Penten.

“Jordan’s work on the AltoCrypt Phone is inspiring and innovative. His maturity and leadership is genuinely amazing, especially considering he’s not even 30,” Wilson said.

“At Penten, we value diversity and this includes the different perspectives and drive we get from our young employees.

“Defence and national security are great industries for Australia’s young graduates; they offer secure and rewarding work for a variety of professions.

“I would like to thank AIDN for recognising the importance of young achievers in our industry,” Wilson said.

Johnson thanked Penten and his mentors for helping him grow into such an important role.

“I appreciate everything I have learned from my mentors at Penten and elsewhere. I take great pride in being able to work towards the safety and security of our nation, it’s truly an honour,” said Johnson.

Jordan Johnson has been with Penten for the last three years and holds degrees in engineering (honours) and computer science from the University of Newcastle. He is also is enlisted in the Army Reserves.

Joshua Pearson from Noetic received a highly commended award and Grace Johnson from Palantir was named the overall winner and the Young Achiever of the Year for ACT for 2020. Congratulations to all the nominees and recipients of awards.

Penten was named Cyber Business of the year for the second year in a row at the Defence Connect Australian Defence Industry Awards, held Thursday 26 November 2020. The awards were held across three physical locations: Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra and also livestreamed.

Penten’s innovative AltoCrypt Phone featured as one of the company’s most important and innovative products of the year. The AltoCrypt Phone was launched in November 2019. This capability  extended Penten’s customer capabilities throughout the pandemic allowing Government and Defence users to work remotely and flexibly while still accessing sensitive information.

Penten’s Company Director and CFO Sarah Bailey accepted the award at the Canberra event.

“It is incredibly humbling to win this award for the second year in a row. It’s a testament that we are doing what we said we would do, and that is make a different to the Australian Defence Force and Government clients.

“This award really belongs to all the Penten family and the amazingly talented individuals that make Penten great,” said Bailey.

Penten was also a finalist in the Defence Innovator of the Year category. Three Penten staff members were also finalists: Sarah Bailey as Executive of the Year, Merik Karman as Innovator of the Year and David Liebowitz as Scientist of the Year.

Australian cyber technology company Penten has established a specialist business unit dedicated to securing sovereign communication technologies for defence and emergency services.

The unit was launched at Penten’s Canberra headquarters by Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Melissa Price MP today.

Penten’s new business unit, Tactical Communications Security, aims to support Australian Industry in the delivery of secure and easy-to-use communication technologies that are compatible across military, emergency and humanitarian applications.

Headed by Penten’s Chief Technology Officer, Merik Karman, the new business unit today has a team of 10 dedicated people specialising in advanced electronics, waveforms, cryptography, photonics, field programmable gate arrays and high assurance security.

The new Tactical Communications Security business unit is working with some of Australia’s leading radio manufacturers to secure new communications solutions focused on Defence requirements.

With multiple contracts already and the ability to draw on Penten’s Secure Mobility and Applied AI business units and 100 strong team for specialist resources, the new business unit is forecast to grow rapidly creating more high value engineering jobs in Australia.

At the core of the communications opportunities is the use of new Australian radio systems enhanced by Penten’s unique sovereign encryption solutions.

Penten CEO Matthew Wilson said the company realised, and sought to address new communications security needs, a missing link in Australia’s sovereign radio technologies.

“We knew that Penten had the capability and the expertise to develop and provide support and solutions to Australia’s radio communications companies to meet Defence needs, allowing those in uniform to focus on doing their job rather than managing technology,” he said.

“This sovereign technology demonstrates that Australian Industry has the capacity and capability to develop home-grown solutions that are focussed on delivering to Defence a technology advantage.”

Mr Wilson said the sovereign secure communications technologies being developed would:

  • harness the critical advanced manufacturing skills and expertise within Australia
  • allow different Defence elements to co-ordinate and communicate effectively, easily and securely
  • deliver highly complex technologies, in a simple solution to enable the focus on the mission.

Penten Chief Technology Officer Merik Karman said he had evaluated and researched radio technologies in recent years, in a mission to extend existing technology and transform it into a modern solution that was more secure and user-friendly.

“We are working intimately with Australia’s leading radio specialists to combine their expertise with Penten’s secure mobility technology to develop a truly sovereign secure communication solution.” he said.

One of the projects the team is already currently engaged is the C4 EDGE Program, launched in August 2020.


Read the full article.

On Tuesday 10 November 2020, Penten was named by the Australian Financial Review as a successful and growing cyber business despite the difficult year 2020 has been for many.

The pandemic has accelerated a digital transformation with two years of growth occurring within just two months. This, in addition to the commitment by the Morrison Government of a $1.4 billion investment in cyber capabilities, has seen the cyber industry grow at an accelerated pace.

The defence sector has also been an integral part of this digital revolution. Funding has increased for defence innovation, industry grants, skilling and cyber training.

Since founding in 2014, Penten has grown from five to 97 employees and expects to grow to 125 next year.

Matthew Wilson, Penten CEO and one of the company’s five founders, says innovation has been key to that growth. Since 2014, Penten has invested $10 million in research and development.

“We actively look to solve the most difficult cyber security problems in government and defence. We look for the white space in the world and create a solution where there isn’t one,” Wilson says.

“We’re not just about creating technology. We solve problems and we deliver outcomes for our customers.”

Sarah Bailey, CFO, Penten says people are integral to the company’s success.

“We’ve worked hard to create and maintain a great culture. Our culture is one of our biggest assets. It produces huge benefits for us. It’s a competitive advantage in terms of the talent we need to attract as we grow.”

Veterans comprise 28 per cent of Penten’s workforce. Bailey says that’s been “a fundamental element” of Penten’s success.

Wilson is bullish about Penten’s future. “We’re on the cusp of significant growth,” he says.

Wilson and Bailey will steward Penten through this growth by focusing on innovation and culture – with the right capital partner. They have engaged PwC to support their capital market engagement process.

“We see great opportunities before us to build an organisation that makes a great contribution to Australia’s cyber security and to the Australian economy,” said Wilson.

On Tuesday 13 October, Matthew Wilson, CEO of Penten, received a Highly Commended award for the Male Champion of Change category in the AWSN (Australian Women in Security Network) Awards.

The award aims to recognise individiuals working to shift entrenched gender inequalities by championing for more equality in the IT security industry. They demonstrate a genuine commitment in time, investment and innovation.

“We have always aimed to build a female friendly workplace and I am very proud of the team for receiving this award, it’s actually not just an individual award, it’s for all of Penten”, Matthew Wilson said.

“National security is unfortunately not normally thought of as an industry friendly to women,” he said.

“Globally women make up less than 20 per cent of the sector and in APAC cyber security sector,  only 10 per cent of the workforce is female.

“Penten currently has a 22 per cent female workforce and the company is steadily working towards its goal of a 50-50 gender split amongst its team.

“Our increasing female workforce is based on Penten’s innovative initiatives, which include unlimited sick, reservist, domestic violence and carer’s leave; 26 weeks paid parental leave and paid super on another 26 weeks unpaid leave; multicultural leave and paid training and study leave.

“Getting towards our 50 per cent goal takes effort, but it’s not hard to be observant and respectful. We at Penten know that together is better,” he said.

Two other Penten staff were named finalists in the AWSN awards: Alison Lee, Director of Logistics in the Unsung Hero category and Shey Dimon, Communication Manager in the Best Champion of Women in Security/Resilience.

Penten was also named a finalist in the Best Place to work for Women in Security category.

Australia offers cutting-edge cyber security technology solutions, and these are valuable to a world-wide audience. Exporting to the UK is not always simple however, and Penten would like to offer some guidance and tips, on how we navigated the export landscape in the UK.

In collaboration with AustCyber, we are pleased to introduce the Export Commercialisation Playbook for Australian Cyber Start-Ups, UK Edition.

In this playbook, we provide a personal case study of our own export journey taking our product ‘TrapDocs’ to the UK.

Designed as an informative and simple guide to help Australian cyber start-ups navigate the complexity of exporting to the UK, the playbook tackles issues from export licensing to intellectual property, marketing, choosing distributors and understanding legalities.

The playbook is structured to guide organisations through a sequence of four steps needed to successfully take cyber security products or services to the UK market.

The four steps are covered in the following sections:

  • The ‘decide’ section is intended to help you with a rationale for exporting your product.
  • The ‘prepare’ section will get you ready to take the plunge, including information on pricing, positioning and intellectual property.
  • The ‘sell’ section discusses marketing, resellers and export legalities.
  • The ‘deliver’ section is all about successfully fulfilling on orders to provide your customers with the best service possible.

Download a copy of the Playbook: AustCyber Penten UK Export Playbook

In an Australian first, a group of innovative, sovereign cyber companies collaborated to create a successful pilot of a fully online, collective cyber training program for the Australian Defence Force.

Australian businesses: Cydarm, Elttam, Penten and Retrospect Labs each with expertise in niche cyber technology came together to tailor a solution for Defence on FifthDomain’s cyber training platform.

The aim of the Accelerated Defence Cyber Training (ADCT) Program echoes the current need for remotely accessible training programs while also addressing the requirement to rapidly increase cyber skills across Defence and industry.

The fully online training program was conducted from FifthDomain’s headquarters in Canberra, and was delivered remotely to Navy, Army and Air Force personnel across the country over a three-week timeframe.

The program included a highly realistic virtual environment with simulated exercises. The trainees were grouped into virtual teams to remediate vulnerabilities and respond to simulated and real threat actors.

On the final day of the pilot, MAJGEN Marcus Thompson, Head of Information Warfare Division, ADF, visited FifthDomain’s office in within UNSW’s Launch Precinct to connect virtually with over 50 program trainees and congratulate the Australian consortium partners for their achievement.

“Building home-grown cyber capabilities is a team effort. In Defence, we’re developing our capabilities in an increasingly connected world – which extends to the battlefield. The collaboration of local SME’s to support the training progression of ADF cyber operators gives me great confidence that we’re on the right track. I commend our partners Fifth Domain, Penten, Cydarm, Elttam and Retrospect Labs for contributing to the acceleration of ADF cyber training,” said Thompson.

Michelle Price, AustCyber CEO, said this is a real-world demonstration of the strength of Australia’s cyber security ecosystem.

“Seeing five sovereign cyber businesses come together to provide a virtual training platform for Defence is a great example of the strong cyber security sector in Australia and shows that Australian cyber businesses can provide the solutions Defence needs. A strong domestic cyber security sector is critical for Australia’s competitiveness and reputation as a trusted place to do business.”

Cydarm, a Melbourne-based business, deployed their case management platform and dashboard as a command and control system to coordinate team activities and provide oversight for the mentors. This enabled trainees in the cybersecurity operations teams to collaborate on responding to incidents while the mentors continually assessed their progress.

Vaughan Shanks, CEO of Cydarm Technologies is proud to be counted among the growing number of sovereign Australian cybersecurity companies, and grateful for the support of the ADF and our partners.
“Developing home-grown expertise is a key objective of the Australian government as it focuses on building sovereign cyber capability to generate jobs, defend Australia and export these solutions to the Asia Pacific region and around the world,” said Shanks.

Elttam, an independent Australian security company which specialises in high-quality offensive and defensive security services, played the role of cyber threat actors for the ADF trainees.

Matt Jones, Director and Co-founder of Elttam said, “We were proud to tailor realistic adversarial scenarios for Defence based on industry experience. It was a pleasure to collaborate with the partnering Australian companies as part of the ADCT Program.”

FifthDomain, the training project lead and provider of the platform, is a leading Australian specialist cyber operations workforce development and management development company based in Canberra.

Matt Wilcox, CEO of FifthDomain commented, “We are proud to be leading this sovereign capability to deliver this unique solution for Defence. FifthDomain’s cyber ranges benefit by being able to integrate niche technologies from our partners to provide Defence the best of breed Australian cyber innovation. And within the context of COVID-19 limitations, the sovereign, remotely accessible platform enables Defence to overcome travel and supply chain challenges to successfully achieve this goal.”

Penten, a Canberra based cyber technology company enjoyed the challenge of integrating their unique AI generated content and user behaviour on FifthDomain’s cyber training platform.

Ben Whitham, Founder and Director of Penten said this is another example of sovereign capability and what we can achieved when we collaborate.

“Although this is only the first step working together, the combined solution of additional realism and automation will enhance the training outcomes, reduce the time taken to create the environments and improve the repeatability,” said Whitham.

Retrospect Labs is building a cyber security exercise platform that takes the burden out of conducting cyber security exercises. The platform makes exercises easy to design, execute, and evaluate, so that organisations can continually practice – and perfect – their response to any cyber incident.

 Jason Pang, CEO of Retrospect Labs is immensely proud to partner with our fellow Australian cyber security companies to deliver a leading, world class experience for our ADF personnel.

“What we did, together, showcases the awesome home-grown talent boutique Australian companies have to offer, and their ability to work so closely together in a way that rivals, and in many ways out shines, the offerings of many established, traditional cyber firms,” said Pang.

Delivery of this program closely aligns with Australia’s Cyber Security Strategy 2020, released in early August 2020, which commits A$1.67b investment over ten years, and outlines a range of initiatives including the growth of the country’s cyber skills pipeline as one of its key recommendations.