Melanie Oldham Founder and CEO of Bob’s Business Melanie Oldham

Bob's Business is run by Melanie Oldham who gave the presentation when His Royal Highness brought the Pitch@Palace On Tour to the University

CYBER security is a top priority for all companies, large and small.  Melanie Oldham has established a Yorkshire-based business that is becoming a major global player in the field by offering informative and entertaining training modules.  Now she hopes that she will receive a further boost as a result of success in a high-profile competition inspired by the HRH The Duke of York, KG.

His Royal Highness is Chancellor of the University of Huddersfield, which was the venue for the latest round of his Pitch@Palace events.  A wide variety of high-calibre businesses made their pitch for support, with the most successful ventures moving on to the next phase of the contest, which culminates in a final at St James’s Palace.

Melanie Oldham is founder and CEO of Bob’s Business, which has seen 100% growth in sales and staff for the last three years and now recruits 26 full-time members of staff.  The client base for its animated cyber security training modules ranges from SMEs to the likes of retailer J.D. Williams and the Co-op Group, plus Government agencies.

It is estimated that some 500,000 people have now taken the online courses offered by Bob’s Business.  There are currently 36 modules available online, teaching employees how to keep information systems secure and to be on guard against the whole gamut of threats, including phishing attacks.

But despite the success of a business that originated in 2005 and has employed full-time staff since 2012, Melanie is still alert to opportunities that could provide an extra fillip, hence her participation in Pitch@Palace, at which she herself delivered the three-minute presentation that earned the votes of judges.

“We have managed to grow very organically so we did not get to the next stage of Pitch@Palace because we were asking for money,” said Melanie.  “They all said on the judging panel that they felt they could help grow the business.”

Melanie, who worked for Mid-Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce before launching her cyber security enterprise, was alerted to the Huddersfield round of Pitch@Palace by a circular at the University of Huddersfield’s 3M Buckley Innovation Centre.

So who is Bob?  He is a symbolic ‘everyman’ figure who pops up in the company’s animations.

“Everybody can relate to him because everybody goes through the pain that Bob goes through.  They understand it and face the same risks, regardless of what type of industry they are in,” said Melanie, adding that the figure of Bob is actually based on one of the first security professionals she worked with.

Her background was in hospitality and tourism, but when she moved into project management she was asked by her CEO to take charge of an information security project, introducing her to the topic that would be the basis of her own business.

About 90 per cent of security breaches are down to human error, and Bob’s Business tries to minimise the risk by reinforcing precautionary behaviour, but putting over the message in an entertaining way without instilling a fear factor, says Melanie.

The significance of cyber security has burgeoned massively since she started out in 2005, with more and more competitors entering the field.  One of the ways that Melanie aims to stay ahead of the curve is by commissioning research, including a planned project with the University of Huddersfield that will look at the criminal psychology behind phishing.

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