No quick fix, but Penney can buy time at Waratahs with small improvements


Penney would be hurting after three losses in a row. Not for himself but his boys. He’s 100 per cent engaged as a coach in creating an experience and a learning pathway. He’ll be wanting to protect them from outside criticism and takes pride in his own work.

That’s not to say that those improvements are completely visible at the moment, but there are signs of improvement. The aimless kicking that plagued the first match against the Reds has not been as frequent, while handling errors have also diminished from one week to the next. The attack seems more spontaneous and energetic.

The lack of a strong group of elder statesmen makes life tough, but there are signs of leadership from the likes of Alex Newsome and Jack Dempsey, and a more controlled Lachie Swinton, who will be important in the evolution of this young group.

The Waratahs have lost their first three matches of 2021 by almost 30 points a game.

The Waratahs have lost their first three matches of 2021 by almost 30 points a game. Credit:Getty

Will Harrison’s goalkicking is a real asset, which was apparent in the first 20 minutes on Friday night as he kept the scoreboard kept ticking over.

There’s a lot of work ahead, and everyone knows it. There’s no doubt Penney and his staff are rolling their sleeves up, and if those week-to-week improvements can keep adding up, then that should give enough encouragement to the powers that be.

And while it’s disappointing for Waratahs fans to digest three defeats in the first three matches, let’s also look at the bigger picture. The spectacle on Friday night was excellent, with enterprising play, physicality and vigour from both sides.

Right to the final whistle the game was anyone’s and what a celebration it was for a Barbarians-style Force side after their winless season in 2020.

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The Force are no bunnies and will get better and better as combinations gel. One of the essential elements for team success, as proved in every World Cup, is a core of experienced players who set standards for new players while still backing them to bring their skills and have the confidence to apply them. The Force are at the start of this journey.

But let’s be clear: a coach who appears to be there for his own glory will very quickly have a cancerous effect through the team and organisation. Penney has a proven record of developing team culture and producing results. One of his great strengths is his care for his players and his desire for them to achieve on the field and as people. He will be looking to improve the team technically, tactically and personally.

That doesn’t mean being soft on players. Objective and brutally honest feedback is extremely important in all sport.

A strong team culture is also fostered when players are able to be up-front with one another. Tell your mate how you really feel.

An old mate of mine, former All Black Peter Sloane, liked to use the phrase “[knife] in the belly, not the back” when he was coaching at the Crusaders and New Zealand.

Even the most successful teams have bad days, so managing underperformance is as important as controlling complacency when the results are good.

If this is achieved, then the beer and skittles will taste even better.

Andrew Mehrtens is a New Zealand rugby legend, who scored 967 points for the All Blacks in 70 Tests. He is part of the Nine and Stan Sport commentary team.

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New Rugby Australia chief executive Andy Marinos says wallabies success the quick fix for Australian rugby revival


Marinos spoke of the importance of growing the game from the bottom up and conceded the code was well in the shadows of the NRL and AFL but said the quickest way to flip the narrative was for the Wallabies to return to their former glory.

It has been 20 years since the Wallabies set the world on fire and a common theme in Marinos’ first press conference was the “inextricable” link between Wallaby success and the overall health of the game in Australia.

Marinos and Hamish McLennan take part in an Indigenous welcome ceremony.Credit:Getty

“You can’t be successful off the field if you’re not successful on the field,” Marinos said. “That’s our biggest challenge; to improve our high performance and get a competitive and winning team. It makes the rest of the business a lot easier to manage and drive commercial value throughout.”

As for Rennie, whose first year in charge yielded one win, three draws and two losses, Marinos has put faith in the Wallabies coach.

“That’s certainly not my role or style to stick my nose in and tell him what to do,” Marinos said. “I will be there more as a sounding board to bounce any ideas he has. I fully respect he’s got a role and a job to do and I’m going to performance manage him against that to make sure he delivers against the standards we’ve set. At the end of the day, we’re all part of the same team and if he wins on the field, we will off the field and vice versa.

“You can go back right from the 1991 [World Cup] winning team to the present day – if you haven’t got a strong spine, it makes it very difficult. If you look at the Wallaby team now, they’re still developing the spine. Once they’ve got that, I think the rest is going to slot into play.

“When they have got success there is an influx of players wanting to play and be part of the setup. You put the dial back to the early 1990s and early 2000s when the Australian teams were really dominant, the talent that was coming through the Aussie schoolboy system, they were all staying in the system, they weren’t moving across into rugby league and we had a number of prominent league players coming across and wanting to play rugby. It’s about getting the local product right. Players want to play where they are going to get trophies and be seen on the biggest stage in rugby.”

High on the Marinos 2021 agenda is ensuring Super Rugby AU goes ahead, strengthening international relations – particularly with New Zealand – broadening rugby’s supporter base and re-engaging with the grassroots.

As it turns out, Marinos coaches his son’s junior rugby team in the Shire and might be spotted running the lines in weekends ahead.

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“I got my accreditation from RA, so I’m now an official touch judge,” Marinos said.

As for talk of the British and Irish Lions series in South Africa being moved to Australia, reports from the UK overnight suggest there has been a lukewarm response from administrators. UK sources say the preferred option is for matches to be played in South Africa behind closed doors.

McLennan has opened the door for matches to be played here, with the pitch being that revenue will still go to South Africa and the Lions, with Australia picking up costs.

Marinos is unsure if a proposal would be agreed to by those in the north but said he thought the idea had merit.

“When it comes to the Lions, our main priority is to get our French tour underway and complete that tour,” Marinos said. “If we can provide a safe haven or an environment where the British and Irish Lions tour can continue, why wouldn’t we? It’s so important for the global rugby economy and community that we have international rugby played with as little disruption as we could get throughout this year.

“The guys from the north are certainly desperate to have a Lions tour. They have done a hell of a lot of planning in getting themselves to this point. My chairman’s extension of the rugby friendship to the British and Irish Lions and South Africans is exactly that to say if we can help in any way, we certainly will.”

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Quick jabs – Britain’s vaccine roll-out gets off to a fast start | Britain


WHEN IT COMES to the race to get out the covid-19 vaccine, there is Israel, which has given out 23 doses for every 100 people, and then there is everywhere else. In second and third place, some way behind, sit the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, which are relying on a jab without published data from late-stage trials (see article). Next is Britain, the speediest big country.

British medics were quick off the mark with early approvals for the Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccines, and the roll-out has recently sped up. On January 6th, 1.3m doses had been delivered. A week later, 3.1m had, a number equivalent to 4.5 doses per 100 people. Denmark, Britain’s nearest rival in Europe, has done 2.

Though fast, the pace still needs to accelerate further to meet the government’s target of offering everyone in a big group—which includes people over the age of 70 and front-line health- and social-care workers—a jab by the middle of February. To meet it, around 2.5m doses will have to go out each week. Ministers promise they will.

The roll-out is not without flaws. The government has provided little information on, for instance, who exactly has received jabs, although more is promised soon. Care-home vaccinations seem to be getting done more slowly than in other countries that got off to a quick start. And observers have raised concerns about the lack of ventilation in mass-vaccination centres, in which elderly and vulnerable people congregate.

These are serious problems. They are also ones most of Europe would love to have—which is not a position Britain has been in for most of the pandemic.

Editor’s note: Some of our covid-19 coverage is free for readers of The Economist Today, our daily newsletter. For more stories and our pandemic tracker, see our hub

This article appeared in the Britain section of the print edition under the headline “Quick jabs”

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Police eject six fans from SCG for alleged abuse of Indian quick Siraj


“They have been quite nasty and hurling abuse,” spin bowler Ravichandran Ashwin said. “There is a time where they have gone one step ahead and used racial abuses.

“It is definitely not acceptable in this day and age. We’ve evolved as a society and … this must be dealt with an iron fist and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

On his fourth Test tour of Australia, Ashwin said he had “personally experienced it as well”.

“I take myself back to my first tour in 2011-12, I had no clue about racial abuse and how you can be made to feel small in front of so many people. And the people actually laugh at you when you get abused,” he said.

“They do tend to get nasty, I don’t know for what reason. Until it is dealt with people don’t find it necessary to look at it in a different way. I was quite surprised that some sections of the crowd continually did it and there were not mates around them to pull them up.”

Prominent Indian sports journalist Boria Majumdar reported Siraj was called a “brown dog” on Sunday.

Absent India captain Virat Kohli tweeted on Sunday night: “Racial abuse is absolutely unacceptable. Having gone through many incidents of really pathetic things said on the boundary lines, this is the absolute peak of rowdy behaviour. It’s sad to see this happen on the field.

“The incident needs to be looked at with absolute urgency and seriousness and strict action against the offenders should set things straight for once.”

Australia captain Tim Paine, who was batting with all-rounder Cameron Green at the time, had joined the Indians where they were assembled at the middle of the ground, with Siraj pointing towards the alleged culprits in the lower tier of the Clive Churchill and Brewongle Stands.

The men escorted by police had been seated in the same area of the grandstand from which Siraj and Bumrah reported the abuse had come on Saturday.

Police speak with a member of the Indian team staff on Sunday.Credit:Getty Images

Spectator Rishi Aryan, who was seated in the same bay, told the Herald and The Age on Sunday: “All these boys were doing is a bit of sledging of the player on the outfield. First it was Bumrah then they had a sledge against Siraj. They kept calling him Shiraz and all that crap. Next thing you know they said: ‘Welcome to Sydney, Siraj’ and then he got the shits. That was literally it. Then he walked off.

“I don’t know why [the police kicked the men out]. Next thing you know you see police everywhere. It didn’t make sense. It was confusing.”

Another spectator with his family believed there was nothing racist said. He also corroborated Mr Aryan’s statement that the phrase “Welcome to Sydney, Siraj” was used.

A source with knowledge of investigations of the weekend incidents said crowd members in that section had been singing the song Que Sera, Sera using Siraj’s name.

Paul Reiffel and Paul Wilson speak to the Indian players before tea.

Paul Reiffel and Paul Wilson speak to the Indian players before tea.Credit:AP

Australia coach Justin Langer on Sunday night slammed the abuse of players from the crowd as “upsetting and disappointing” . “Anyone who knows me, I’ve said for years it’s just one of my greatest pet hates in life that people think they can come to a sporting event, whether it’s cricket or any code, and pay their money and think they can abuse or say whatever they like,” he said.

“We’ve seen it in different parts of the world and it’s really sad to see it happen in Australia. I think our series so far has been played in such great spirits. It’s a shame to see it getting marred by incidents like we’re hearing about today and last night”.

Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack said on Sunday: “If racist remarks have been made, then the appropriate action has taken place.

“There is no place for racism in Australia. We are a tolerant country and the most successful multicultural nation in the world. Australia’s performance in this Test so far has been very solid – the team won’t be distracted by this as it pushes on to victory.”

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said if reports of racial abuse were correct “those comments should be utterly condemned”.

“They are un-Australian and don’t represent who we are,” she said.

CA head of integrity and security said the Indian team’s allegations would be “investigated to their fullest extent”.

“The abuse of cricketers by crowd members is not acceptable,” Carroll said. “We thank the Indian team for their vigilance in reporting today’s incident, which we are now in the process of investigating.

“A number of spectators were interviewed by NSW Police and subsequently removed from the SCG on Sunday afternoon. While we await the outcome of the investigation by NSW Police, CA has launched its own inquiry into the matter.”

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Jake Weatherald cracks quick half-century as Adelaide Strikers smash Melbourne Renegades


A superb 96-run partnership off 52 balls between Jake Weatherald and Ryan Gibson powered Adelaide Strikers to a much-needed 60-run victory against bottom-placed Melbourne Renegades at Adelaide Oval.

In trouble at 4-72 after 11 overs, Weatherald joined Gibson, who had yet to face a delivery, at the crease and after steadying the ship, they smashed 62 from the final four overs as the Strikers’ posted their highest score of the season, 5-171.

Long-time opener Weatherald – pushed down the order to No. 6 after making a quickfire 34 at No. 5 against the Sixers on Sunday – cracked 51 from only 25 deliveries, with four sixes.

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Former New South Wales first-class batsman Gibson, who is in Adelaide trying to gain a Redbacks contract, scored a classy, unbeaten 43 from 31 balls in a partnership that changed the momentum of the match.

The Renegades, who had lost six consecutive games and were without key batsmen Shaun Marsh (personal reasons) and Rilee Rossouw (hamstring), were always on the back foot in their run chase after captain Aaron Finch was unluckily dismissed on the first ball of their innings.

Just two days after being run out at the non-striker’s end against the Scorchers when paceman Jason Behrendorff got a hand to a Marsh drive, Finch edged a leg glance through to a diving Alex Carey behind the stumps off Harry Conway’s first ball in BBL10.

Carey took another spectacular catch later in the innings when he ran backwards towards fine leg to haul in a skied ball from Mackenzie Harvey (34) as the Renegades lost their last nine wickets for just 44 to be bowled out for 111.

English spinner Danny Briggs was the pick of the Strikers bowlers with 2-17 from four overs while pacemen Wes Agar and Peter Siddle each captured three wickets.

Adelaide’s convincing victory snapped consecutive seven-wicket defeats to the Scorchers and Sixers and squared its win-loss record at 4-4.

LACK OF SALT

Hard-hitting Englishman Phil Salt’s troubles at the top of the batting order for the Strikers continued against the Renegades.

Salt was out for eight in the fourth over after pulling a Kane Richardson delivery straight down Beau Webster’s throat at deep mid-wicket.

It was Salt’s fifth single-figure score in eight innings in BBL10 and third on the trot.

After making 51 against the Perth Scorchers last Monday, Salt has made only 13 in his past three knocks.

He has scored 131 in eight innings for the campaign at a disappointing average of 16.

RENEGADES’ TRIPLE TREAT

The Strikers’ lost their way with the bat by losing three wickets for four runs in 10 balls in the 10th and 11th overs.

Matt Renshaw (35), Jon Wells (2) and captain Alex Carey (24) fell in quick succession to Mohammad Nabi and Imad Wasim as the score quickly went from 1-68 to 4-72.

All three were caught close to the boundary with undisciplined shots.

COSTLY MISS

Finch was a deadeye dick with his trusty left arm in the field except when it really mattered.

He hit the target with his first two throws at the stumps, including one from side-on, but both times the Strikers’ batsmen had made their ground at the non-striker’s end.

But when Finch found Gibson well short of his ground in the 18th over with the score on 4/129, his side-on throw from mid-off missed by the narrowest of margins.

It was a costly miss as Gibson powered his way to an unbeaten 43 as the home side finished its innings strongly.



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Quick and Easy Choc-Berry Slice ~ Wholefood Simply



Quick and Easy Choc-Berry Slice

the chocolate

  • 6 tablespoons almond butter
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, liquid
  • 3 tablespoons honey*
  • 3 tablespoons cacao or cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon concentrated natural vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

the raspberry

  • 1 cup cashews
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, liquid
  • 2 tablespoons honey*
  • 1/2 teaspoon concentrated natural vanilla extract
  • 150 grams fresh raspberries
  1. Place the cashews for the raspberry layer into a bowl and cover with boiling water. Set aside.
  2. Place the ingredients for the chocolate layer into your processor and quickly blend to combine. Pour the mixture into a silicon loaf pan and place into the freezer while you make the raspberry layer.
  3. Drain the cashews and place them into your processor and blend until the mixture forms a paste.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until the mixture is smooth and well combined. Pour the mixture over your base and place in the freezer to set and store.
  5. Serve. Eat. Enjoy.

*you can use rice malt syrup if you prefer.

If you are enjoying the recipes be sure to check out the books. I hope you find something you love. With thanks, B x

recipe image

Recipe

Quick and Easy Choc-Berry Slice


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Taking China to the World Trade Organisation plants a seed. It won’t be a quick or easy win


Australia is reportedly ready to initiate its first litigation against China at the World Trade Organisation.

China has this year taken punitive action against imports of Australian coal, wine, beef, lobster and barley.

It is the five-year 80.5 per cent barley tariff China imposed in May that Australia will take to the World Trade Organisation. More than half of all Australian barley exports in 2019 were sold to China, worth about A$600 million a year to Australian farmers.

Chinese authorities began an anti-dumping investigation into Australian barley in November 2018. Anti-dumping trade rules are meant to protect local producers from unfair competition from “dumped” imported goods.

Dumping occurs where a firm sells goods in an overseas market at a price lower than the normal value of the goods. China calculated the normal value of barley using “best information available” on the grounds that Australian producers and exporters failed to provide all information Chinese investigators requested.

The barley tariff will last for five years unless Chinese investigators initiate a review and decide to extend it beyond 2025.

What can Australia hope to achieve from a WTO dispute?

Not a quick and easy win. A formal resolution will likely take years. But it plants a seed, starting a structured process for dialogue. This is an important step in the right direction.

A lengthy process

WTO litigation is no quick fix. There is a set process that moves through three phases — consultation, adjudication and compliance.

The standard timetable would ideally have disputes move through consultation and adjudication within a year. In reality, it often take several years, particularly if appeals or compliance actions are involved.

The timetable schedules 60 days for the first stage of negotiations, though these can take many more months. That’s worthwhile if it leads to a resolution. But given the tensions between China and Australia, a quick resolution looks remote.

The adjudication process typically involves a decision by a WTO panel followed by an appeal to the organisation’s Appellate Body.

A WTO panel is meant to issue its decision within nine months of its establishment, but it usually takes much more time. If the panel’s decision is appealed, the Appellate Body is meant to make its decisions within 90 days, but nor is this time frame met in many cases.

Once a WTO decision is final, it is up to the losing party to comply with the ruling. That may include a request for time to make the necessary changes. In practice, this can take six to 15 months.

Close-up picture of ripening barley heads, swaying in the breeze
China’s tariff on Australian barley comprises an ‘anti-dumping duty’ of 73.6 per cent and a ‘countervailing duty’ of 6.9 per cent.(ABC Rural: Daniel Mercer)

Appeals blockage

One complication is the current non-functioning WTO appeals process. Appointing judges to the WTO’s Appellate Body requires agreement from all WTO member nations. US obstruction of new appointments has reduced the number of judges to zero, and the Appellate Body requires three judges to hear appeals.

This paralysis has created a major loophole, enabling an “appeal into the void” to block unfavourable rulings.

In light of this, the 27 European Union nations and 22 other WTO members — including both China and Australia — have signed on to a temporary appeals process known as the “multi-party interim appeal arbitration arrangement” (MPIA).

Given China’s commitment to the WTO and its dispute settlement system, there is no reason to anticipate it snubbing interim arrangements if an appeal arises. But the appeal process is also likely to take just as long as the Appellate Body procedure.

No guaranteed win

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Play Video. Duration: 1 minute 13 seconds

Trade Minister Simon Birmingham says any outcome from the WTO may take years

Federal Trade Minister Simon Birmingham has expressed confidence in Australia’s “strong case” but victory against China is not assured.

China’s tariff on Australian barley comprises an “anti-dumping duty” of 73.6 per cent and a “countervailing duty” of 6.9 per cent. Anti-dumping and countervailing calculations are highly technical.

Whether China’s barley tariff has violated WTO rules will require detailed examination of its methodology.

A key challenge to the Chinese methodology is that it largely disregarded information on domestic sales by Australian barley producers and used data from Australian sales to Egypt.

The WTO has found China’s use of similar methods in several past disputes breached WTO rules. But every case depends on very specific facts. The past rulings against China do not necessarily predict the result here.

No compensation

Even if Australia is successful, a “win” isn’t total.

The WTO system is designed to make states change their ways. It is not designed to compensate those harmed by illegal trade measures. In other words, an Australian win may require China only to remove the tariff, not compensate those who paid more or lost revenue as a result.

There is also a risk that China could simply initiate a re-investigation of the barley tariff, which might lead to a decision to impose duties very similar to the original ones. In some past disputes, it took China five years or longer to remove duties.

So even if the World Trade Organisation rules in favour of Australia, this might not lead to the tariff’s end before its current expiry date in 2025.

Still the best option

Despite all this, the World Trade Organisation is Australia’s best step. The WTO is not perfect, but it is now a tested and respected mechanism to resolve trade disputes.

WTO litigation also compels the disputing parties to enter into consultations — and talking is something Australia’s officials have had difficulty having with their Chinese counterparts.

China might drag its heels in other ways, but it can be expected to respect the WTO’s procedural rules and enter into these negotiations. Those talks could help repair communication channels better than missives through social media and press conferences.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian speaks at a briefing in Beijing
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian says Australia should do something ‘to promote mutual trust and co-operation’ in response to Simon Birmingham calling for dialogue and discussion.(AP)

Litigation the new normal

In commencing a formal dispute, Australia also sends a firm but dignified message — that it is willing to use international rules and procedures to solve grievances.

WTO litigation is a normal feature of trade relations between countries. Even close allies bring disputes against one another — such as New Zealand’s case against Australia’s restrictions on New Zealand apples, or Australia’s case against Canadian restrictions  on imported wines in liquor stores.

China and Australia badly need a relationship reset. Meeting in a rules-based forum with structured processes for dialogue can do no harm.

Weihuan Zhou is a senior lecturer and member of Herbert Smith Freehills CIBEL Centre, in the faculty of law at UNSW. Lisa Toohey is a professor of law at the University of Newcastle. This article originally appeared on The Conversation.



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Raiders want quick resolution for Starling


Canberra coach Ricky Stuart hopes for a quick resolution to Tom Starling’s legal battle following his arrest for allegedly assaulting a police officer on the NSW Central Coast over the weekend.

Starling is the second Raiders player this year to be charged with assaulting a police officer and Stuart said the club would rally around him, as they did with Curtis Scott.

Scott was arrested in January but police assault charges were dropped in September after a Sydney magistrate was shown bodycam footage of the incident.

However, Stuart said the court process deeply affected Scott and the club is now aware of how to support Starling, who is in a similar situation.

“It affected Curtis last year too, the drag on of the court system and the embarrassment of it,” Stuart said on Monday.

“I hope it doesn’t drag on again this year for Tommy’s sake.

“As a club we’ve got to move forward but we’ll certainly support Tommy going on what he told me yesterday and telling me the truth, which is all I ask for.”

On Saturday night, Starling was arrested for allegedly assaulting a police officer during a brawl at a bar in Kincumber.

He was charged with assaulting an officer in the execution of his duty, affray and resisting or hindering an officer.

Starling was due to report for pre-season training with the Raiders on Monday but has been given the day off to recover.

Stuart has been in contact with the 22-year-old who is “shaken up” from spending a night in lock up and also has injuries to his face.

“I only spoke to him via phone (on Sunday) but he was shaken up and disappointed because it’s not in his nature,” Stuart said.

“It’ll go before the courts now and they’ll handle it and hopefully it doesn’t drag on for too long for our sake and the game’s sake.

“I’m all about the game too, there’s been headlines over the last month or six weeks that are not good for our game and I hope we can put to it bed quickly.”

Starling does not qualify for the NRL’s automatic ‘no fault’ stand down policy, with any suspension at the discretion of chief executive Andrew Abdo.

The NRL’s Integrity Unit is also investigating the incident.





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Audio Quick Take: Aon’s Rakesh Inamdar on Being a Digital Leader


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Equinix is the world’s digital infrastructure company. Digital leaders harness its trusted platform to bring together and interconnect the foundational infrastructure that powers their success.

Julie Devoll, HBR: Welcome to the HBR Audio Quick Take. I’m Julie Devoll, Editor of Special Projects and Webinars at HBR. In this Digital Leaders Series, sponsored by Equinix, we ask technology executives about the strategies their companies have adopted to create a digital advantage.

In our first episode, we’re joined by Rakesh Inamdar, Senior Director of Core Infrastructure Services at Aon, to discuss everything from the strategic drivers of their technology investments to the key principles that underpin their infrastructure. Rakesh, thank you so much for joining us today.

Rakesh Inamdar, Aon: Thank you, Julie. I’m excited to be here.

Julie Devoll, HBR: Rakesh, to kick us off, tell us about Aon.

Rakesh Inamdar, Aon: Besides the Aon logos that you see on Manchester United jerseys across the globe, we are the world’s leading professional services firm in risk, retirement and health, mainly underpinned by our data and analytics platform. The combination of our proprietary data technologies and advisory services creates meaningful insights that help our clients reduce volatility and improve performance. So we are in the business of managing risk.

Julie Devoll, HBR: What were the business objectives that drove your C-suite to make the commitments and investments needed to become a leading digital business?

Rakesh Inamdar, Aon: For Aon, a risk mitigation business is ultimately based on its success at predicting the future. Investment in digital technology — such as big data analytics, elastic compute and AI — and in advanced network capabilities to connect them all is a priority to drive success for Aon.

Julie Devoll, HBR: As a digital leader, what business advantages does Aon have against competitors who may not be as far along in their digital transformation?

Rakesh Inamdar, Aon: There are a couple of different factors, Julie. The first one would be speed to market. Aon technology and platforms allow our business to move from ideation to market in the shortest time possible. Cost advantage, savings and run rate reductions allow our business to remain cost competitive. Innovation — the global on-demand footprint of capabilities that we have enabled — allows our business to continue to develop newer solutions and stay ahead of the competition. Even if the concept does not work, we are not hampered by fear of sunk costs. This drives a culture of innovation, and we believe in failing fast and trying more things.

Julie Devoll, HBR: What are the key features of the digital infrastructure Aon built to enable this leadership?

Rakesh Inamdar, Aon: I would say one of the key building blocks for the digital infrastructure was the core infrastructure services that power the underlying network of connected offices, data centers and services. It’s key design principles: It has to be resilient and provide a high degree of availability; have the ability to scale dynamically up and down as and when needed; and have a global reach, not only to the major centers, but also to long-tail emerging markets, such as LATAM and sub-Saharan Africa. It should not be cost prohibitive. It sounds cliche, but it’s very key. Anything can be built if cost is not a factor.

There were solutions that met singular needs. For example, we could use AWS, Azure or GCP to meet the dynamic compute needs, then we had telecom providers — the major ones, globally, that could provide cloud connectivity — but it still felt very disjointed. And at the end of the day, our business does not care about the how; it cares about the when and at what cost.

So as part of a multiyear strategic program called Core to Edge, we set out to transform our core infrastructure services and developed the architecture, working with partners like Equinix to build Aon’s network performance hubs. We call them the NPHs, globally, that brought all these components of core infrastructure services together to provide a fabric of compute and connectivity in a highly secure and cost-effective manner for our business to build its platforms on.

I’ll use an example. When Covid-19 hit, not that we were surprised, but we were able to pivot from 50,000 colleagues working in offices to having them all working 100% remotely over the course of a weekend, without any drop in capabilities or services. Everything that they could do in the office, they could do remotely. And all of this was possible because we had built NPHs that had more than enough capacity and bandwidth to scale. We did not have to provision new solutions to get them productive.

In the past seven to eight months, we have been busy rolling out new capabilities for our colleagues when a lot of other companies are struggling to even figure out a way to keep their colleagues connected and remain productive.

So we did not predict Covid-19, but we built our infrastructure to be ready for disruption, and it allowed our business to continue operating without skipping a beat and to continue to serve our clients. Some will say we have entered a new normal, but look around our firm: We have chosen a new better — better ways to work together, better ways to serve our clients and a better path forward for all our colleagues. I can say that Aon technology is a big part of the new better.

Julie Devoll, HBR: How does Equinix help you bring together and interconnect your digital infrastructure?

Rakesh Inamdar, Aon: We have built our multiple network performance hubs globally in pretty much every geography — Dallas, Washington, D.C., London, Amsterdam, Singapore, Sydney, Sao Paulo in LATAM — to support our global infrastructure and our global client base. We purposely partnered with Equinix and chose its locations to build out our NPHs. Equinix provided us the most connected footprint of capabilities and services — be it public cloud connectivity to AWS, Azure, GCP — with Equinix Fabric, our easy access to the largest carrier-neutral telecommunication aggregation points in the globe. So choosing Equinix was a no-brainer.

Julie Devoll, HBR: As you look to the future of digital infrastructure, what does this look like in three to five years?

Rakesh Inamdar, Aon: The two technologies that we feel the strongest about are AI and ML — and 5G. As we look to the future, we believe AI and ML doing data analytics and predictive analysis will drive new business insights that are not possible today. We already have tremendous amounts of data and strong industry knowledge in the area of risk. So we are well-positioned to take advantage of this opportunity if we make the right investments in the digital infrastructure to unleash the power of AI and ML.

Specifically in the area of core infrastructure, we believe 5G will be the biggest disruptor for traditional network connectivity and the network OEM industry. We envision that Aon offices of the future will not have any network switches, access points, telecommunication equipment or circuits. Each 5G-enabled Aon endpoint will leverage a virtual slice of the world carriers’ 5G network to access Aon services wherever they may be.

Julie Devoll, HBR: Rakesh, how would you describe your partnership with Equinix?

Rakesh Inamdar, Aon: We see Equinix as a valued infrastructure partner in our digital journey, allowing Aon to bring together and interconnect services and capabilities available in the digital economy marketplace. This includes their own services, such as Equinix Fabric and Internet Exchange, and capabilities from the boundless ecosystem of technology partners — AWS, Azure, GCP, Salesforce, Workday, to name a few — available on the Equinix Fabric platform.

This partnership includes Aon having a seat at the table as part of the Equinix Customer Advisory Board (CAB), and it has allowed us to have some level of influence in the future capabilities that Equinix develops that we could take advantage of. For example, we wanted to connect to Salesforce. As part of this CAB, we made a request to Equinix, and they worked with us to start a POC [Proof of Concept], working with us and Salesforce to onboard Salesforce to the Equinix Fabric platform, which allowed us to connect to their services seamlessly.

Julie Devoll, HBR: To wrap up our discussion, what are some of the steps Aon is taking now to get ready for the future? Any platforms or technologies that you’ll adopt at greater scale?

Rakesh Inamdar, Aon: Aon is maniacally focused on providing enterprise-wide standardized IT platforms on which we can build our future business applications. We do realize that public cloud and the marketplace ecosystem allow us to leverage capabilities that we may not have time or resources to develop ourselves. To that end, we have a cloud-first approach and expect 70% to 80% of our new applications and solutions to be developed in the cloud.

To enable this cloud journey and meet future needs, we realize that we’ll have to continue to enhance our core infrastructure and our network performance hub platforms.

Julie Devoll, HBR: Rakesh, thanks so much for joining us today.

Rakesh Inamdar, Aon: Thank you, Julie. It was great talking to you about Aon’s digital journey.

Julie Devoll, HBR: For more information about how to create your digital advantage, visit equinix.com.

 

 

 



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Plyometric Power, an Easy, Quick Workout


Jump, skip, and hop are all forms of plyometric movements incorporated more and more in exercise programs but WHY? Plyometric movements typically involve lengthening of the muscle, eccentric muscle contraction, followed by quick shortening of a muscle, concentric contraction. They help to develop power and agility, while providing a great cardio push. Due to this, they are incorporated into a lot of strength routines, especially HITT (high intensity interval training) and multiple sports programs, like running, soccer, football, etc. Moving faster, increasing the range of motion, and increasing resistance are some ways to progress a plyometric exercise. The challenge often lies with how to regress or even how to start to incorporate “gentle” plyometric exercises without injuring oneself.

The Total Gym provides a great medium for the beginner to advanced participant to infuse plyometrics into one’s routine. Below is a full body plyometric routine. The exercises are broken down to provide more information on how to perform, progress and modify them. At the end, there is a suggested workout broken down into circuits.  Since plyometrics are intense, recovery is important. These exercises can be performed as a plyometric routine in and of itself or some of these exercises may be infused into your current strength routine. Perform 1-2 times a week allowing at least 24-48 hours in between workouts. To begin, start with 20 seconds of active work and 20-40s of second recovery. Progress to 45-60 seconds of active work and 10-30 seconds of recovery. If you are new to plyometrics follow the regression/modification column and focus on your form. Do one set and see how you feel over the next 24 hours. If you felt good, then incorporate more sets into your routine or repeat the flow 1-2 more times.

 

Exercise

Movement and Cue

Progression

Regression/Modification

Plyometric Squat

Focus on pressing through your entire foot.

 

Ensure the knees are not diving inward.

 

Core is engaged throughout the movement.

 

Pull shoulders away from the ears.

 

 

Squat lower.

 

Reach arms overhead or alternating arm reaches while jumping up.

Modify the depth of your squat.

 

Squat then upon rising lift your heels up.

 

Reach the arms up or alternating arm reaches while just lifting the heels. 

 

 

Plyometric Single Leg Squat

Focus on pressing through your entire foot.

 

Ensure the knees are not diving inward.

 

Core is engaged throughout the movement.

 

Pull shoulders away from the ears.

 

 

Squat lower.

 

Reach arms overhead or alternating arm reaches while jumping up.

 

Infuse movement of the unsupportive leg, like bicycling the leg.

Modify the depth of your squat.

 

Squat then upon rising lift your heels up.

 

Reach the arms up or alternating arm reaches while lifting the heels up.

 

Place the unsupportive leg on the glideboard or into your chest.

 

Plyometric Alternating Squats with Core Focus

 

Setting the glideboard to the lower one third end of the tower.

 

 

Increase the range of motion.

 

Vary the arm movements with reaching the arms up overhead.

 

Lifting the head up can make this movement harder or easier.

 

Alternate heel lifts

 

Slow down the movement.

 

Keep the range of movement small.

 

Lifting the head up can make this movement harder or easier.

 

Sprinter’s Plyometric Push off

You can be on your elbows or hands. If on your hands avoid, locking out the elbows.

 

Maintain one knee on the glideboard always.

 

Focus on tightening the buttocks.

 

Keep shoulders away from the ears and core engaged.

 

Add a knee into the chest while the glideboard is moving toward the tower, quick enough to return the foot to the squat stand.

Maintain the foot on the squat stand.

Plyometric Pull Ups

 

Focus on pulling shoulders away from the ears.

 

Keep the top of the heard reaching toward the tower.

 

Keep the core and lower body also engaged.

 

Increased the tempo.

 

Add a clap or additional movement like reaching the arms forward prior to the glideboard returning to the base.

 

Slow down the tempo.

 

Decrease the range of motion.

 

 

Burpee

 

Avoid locking out the elbows.

 

Keep the shoulders pulling away from the ears.

 

Keep the core engaged throughout the movement.

 

Facing the tower, the lower the incline the harder the exercise.

Facing the tower, the higher the incline the easier the exercise.

 

Plyometric Unilateral Pull Ups

 

Focus on pulling shoulders away from the ears.

 

Keep the top of the heard reaching toward the tower.

 

Keep the core and lower body also engaged.

 

Increased the tempo.

 

Add a movement in with the free arm.

Slow down the tempo.

 

 

Decrease the range of motion.

 

 

Side lunge with Plyometric Jump

 

Maintain the knee facing forward, i.e. avoid the knee moving inward or outward.

 

Land softly.

 

Keep the shoulders pulling away from the ears and the core engaged.

 

Focus on bending from the knee and pushing the buttocks backward to avoid the knee pressing over the toes.

 

The leg on the glideboard will come into the chest while jumping.

Lunge to the side and bring the leg on the glideboard onto the ground, progress to bringing the knee in toward the chest.

 

The foot on the ground can lift onto the ball of the foot when returning the glideboard to the base, and progress to a small jump with the foot on the glideboard on staying on the glideboard.

 

Backward Lunge with Plyometric Jump

Maintain the knee facing forward, i.e. avoid the knee moving inward or outward.

 

Land softly.

 

Keep the shoulders pulling away from the ears and the core engaged.

Bring the back knee into the chest while jumping.

Lunge back and bring the back leg (the one on the glideboard) onto the ground, progress to bringing the knee in toward the chest.

 

The foot on the ground can lift onto the ball of the foot when returning the glideboard to the base, and progress to a small jump with the foot on the glideboard on staying on the glideboard.

 

Plyometric Overhead Press

 

Focus on pulling shoulders away from the ears.

 

Keep the core and lower body also engaged.

 

Land softly.

 

Add a reach an additional hand movement like a clap while the glideboard is moving up the rails.

 

Focus on pressing the glideboard up the rails quickly then slowly lower oneself down.

 

Decrease the range of motion of the overhead press.

 

Russian Hamstring

Curl

Keep the core and buttocks tight.

 

Pull the shoulders away from the ears.

 

Avoid bending at the hips. Imagine your trunk and thighs as one straight line.

 

Full range of motion.

Use your hands to return to upright and “catch yourself” earlier in the movement.

Unilateral Plyometric Overhead Press

 

Focus on pulling shoulders away from the ears.

 

Keep the core and lower body also engaged.

 

Land softly.

 

Unilateral Movement may be harder than alternating with respect for endurance.

 

Press up with two hands and focus on lowering with one hand. Progress to pressing two hands up and one hand down.

 

Suggested Workout:

Circuit 1

  • Squat (recovery exercise)
  • Plyometric Squat
  • Squat
  • Alternating Unilateral Squats
  • Squat Recovery
  • Plyometric One-Legged Squats
  • Squat Recovery
  • Plyometric Squat – Core Focus
  • Squat Recovery
  • Plyometric Sprinters Lunge- on your forearms or hands

Circuit 2

  • Plyometric Pull Ups
  • Burpees
  • Alternating or Unilateral Pull Ups
  • Burpees
  • Side Lunge with Plyometric Jump
  • Backward Lunge with Plyometric Jump

*Add a third set if you desire with burpees and plyometric pull ups*

Circuit 3

  • Plyometric Overhead Press
  • Russian Hamstring Curl
  • Alternating Unilateral or Alternating Plyometric Overhead Press
  • Russian Hamstring Curl

*Add a third set if you desire of Russian Hamstring Curl and Unilateral or Alternating Plyometric Overhead Press.*



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