Key Voices #144 – Leading a trust through a cyber attack and reflections on the role of the CEO with Sir Dan Moynihan

“We had prepared various contingency plans on what we’d do if this [a cyber attack] happened... but as Mike Tyson said ‘everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.’” 

This week we talk to Sir Dan Moynihan, CEO of the Harris Federation about leading the trust through a major cyber attack last year. We also talk about some of the systems that underpin the Harris Federation’s school improvement and efficiency models, as well as hearing Sir Dan’s reflection on the role of the CEO. 

We talk about: 
  • How the cyber attack happen and how the story unfolded including how they got support to negotiate with the hackers 
  • How prevalent such attacks are and how all schools should assume they will be targeted 
  • The challenges the team at Harris faced and the support they got to recover including how the precautions they had taken had allowed them to open safely with all IT systems down
  • Sir Dan’s own experience of being in charge during such a difficult time 
  • Additional steps the trust is taking to protect itself in future 
  • How Harris uses a team of subject specialists to support school improvement on the ground as part of its turnaround process
  • How they have managed to find efficiencies through centralisation and simplification
  • The need to retain agility even as the organisation becomes larger and the importance of feedback from the schools about the central services they provide. 
  • The role the CEO has in constantly articulating the vision and mission of the organisation, recruiting talent, enabling action and dealing with difficult problems 


You can get more detail about The Harris Federation’s experience of a cyber attack here.

You can learn more about The Harris Federation here. 

“You can generate more energy and more motivation if people feel part of something that has a mission and a purpose to it, and for us it is about more than getting out of bed in the morning to pay your mortgage. I want staff who are energised by the fact that they are working with disadvantaged kids and they are actually really doing things that transform their lives.”

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