Monday, February 23, 2004

The strange career of Glen Oakley (BSc (Hons), DipEd, MBA, PhD)

Three aspects are striking about the rise, and then unravelling of the 49 y.o. Oakley's career.

First, that fictitious degrees alone - he claimed all the above qualifications, while possessing none - could have propelled a mortuary assistant into a series of six-figure salary office jobs. Unfortunately, none of the media reports reproduce, or give detail on surely the most interesting part of Oakley's CV - the job after (and so, presumably the breakthrough one) the mortician's assistant one. The most likely explanation here is found, obliquely, in only one report: Oakley's referees [in which year(s) is unstated] included former transport minister Carl Scully and former Sydney Olympics chief Sandy Hollway*.

Second, that Oakley's meteoric career rise imploded anything other than on the overnight pariah basis that one would expect - his undoing was thus remarkably less spectacular than his ascent, as the nine-month gap between these SMH reports on his demise suggests.

Finally, and related to my previous point, there is a peculiar ambiguity about how Oakley was exactly, finally sprung - with which current employer and/or going for what job, with who.

Robert Gottliebsen in today's Oz gives the due-diligence credit to toll-road operator Transurban (in fact, a board member personally), thus clearly snubbing the CV-checking processes of Oakley's named penultimate employer, the University of Newcastle (where Oakley was a "conjoint professor", whatever that is). But this account is not borne out by a report in the same newspaper* a few months earlier, in which University of Newcastle vice-chancellor, Roger Holmes (who has recently resigned after a separate scandal) claimed the honours for springing Oakley.

A third, but at least internally consistent version of Oakley's unmasking is given by the SMH. Oakley applied for a job as chief executive of NIB Health sometime in early 2001, and NIB's two (??) recruitment agencies sprung Oakley soon after, while doing routine qualification checks on him.

Embarassingly for more than one party, if the SMH version is correct, then even if University of Newcastle VC Roger Holmes did spring Oakley in 2002, it had nonetheless somehow employed a person, in a senior role, who had left his previous role following substantiated actions of criminal conduct. At best, Oakley was only "re-sprung". Ditto for Oakley's short-lived role in 2003 as general manager of Randwick City Council (same URL), only this time insert "University of Newcastle" as the guilty party. As to how NIB could have "forgot" to mention this to Newcastle Uni, and then Newcastle a year later return the favour to Randwick, when the presumed ordinary background checks - quite apart from qualification checks - were done is an interesting question. Again, I suspect, the explanation here most likely involves the influence of Oakley's referees, Carl Scully and Sandy Hollway.


* Megan Saunders and Dani Cooper "Judgment time for high-flying liar" The Australian December 04, 2003 (no URL)

##

Part II - The strange career of Glen Oakley (BbyBmr)

Lots of people and institutions seem to have been tarnished by their contact with Oakley. It is particularly regrettable that NIB, and then Newcastle Uni, saw fit to simply and silently "move on" Oakley - a technique perfected, of course, by the Catholic Church in its handling of complaints against paedophile priests from the 1960s to the 1980s (and perhaps later).

I don't want to labour this point, but more comparisons can be made between Oakley's career merry go-round and those of paedophile Catholic priests. Decisions seem to have been made solely in the interest of short-term damage control, with no regard or allowance being made for reparations to those affected by Oakley's fraud (it goes with saying that Oakley would have been an incompetent boss), nor for those who would inevitably become future victims, once the toxic Oakley had been handballed on.

Most of all, the way Oakley got away with it for so long - including for another two clear after plain criminal conduct was revealed - suggests a secret, quasi-institutional culture. With no actual institution super-arching over Oakley's diverse employers, the culprit here is obvious: Oakley must have been coddled and protected by his boomer age cohort. The names of his referees, Carl Scully and Sandy Hollway, speak volumes about the boomer jobs closed-shop.

Also looming large in the shame file here is journo Robert Gottliebsen. For whatever reason, Gottliebsen has either (i) done absolutely no research on Oakley, or (ii) made up the story of a Transurban board member's springing of Oakley**. Gottliebsen's journalistic ethics are nicely attested to by the fact that he has top-tier access to elite world "leadership" (= globalisation) events. Such access doesn't come cheap, or unconditionally, of course - which presumably explains why Gottliebsen recently came back from such a forum as a born-again PR evangelist for Wal-Mart (a firm with no business interests whatever in Australia, AFAIK).

By turning his columns into little more than narrowcast corporate name-dropping, Gottliebsen inevitably plays fast and loose with the truth - and common sense. Extrapolating the springing-of Oakley saga as about to ?trigger a boom in organisations checking the qualifications and other claims in CVs . . . [equivalent to] what Enron in the US and HIH in Australia have done to corporate governance?. Oh yeah? Gottliebsen then can't help but push his cute little theory past breaking point, when he poses that the new boom in checking will include verification of past salary. Excuse me? How on earth is one's past salary the business of a would-be employer, anyway?


** (24/02/04) No other media report on Oakley mentions the Transurban connection. An outside possibility here is that Transurban is poised to take over Randwick City Council. If so, such a scoop deserves banner headlines, and not the sotto voce treatment that Gottliebsen has presumably picked up in the corridors of Davos, et al.


Update 10 April 2004

Today’s Weekend Australian Magazine has a feature story on Oakley by Stuart Rintoul: “The great pretender” (no URL).

Rintoul’s piece does provide a few points of clarification on the details of Oakley’s career rise, but even introduces a few fresh jaw-droppers as it does so.

Oakley’s “breakthrough” role – the job after the mortician’s assistant one – is confirmed as regional manager, Hunter and North Coast Region, Waterways division of the Maritime Services Board NSW, from June 1987. Remarkably, this job was located in the same smallish city (pop 300, 000 or so) as Oakley’s previous morgue job. It is mind-boggling that Oakley’s Walter Mitty-ism wasn’t nipped in the bud at this stage; and all the more so considering that Oakley seems (the article is not clear on when his first marriage broke up) to have been married at the time of his incredible promotion. What on earth did his wife think was going on, when her husband suddenly got a five-fold (I’m guessing) salary increase? And if they were then already separated/divorced, wouldn’t Oakley’s wife/ex-wife have all-the-more taken a keen interest in her man’s financial affairs, especially considering (i) they both continued to live in the same smallish city, and (ii) they had two children together.

As for Oakley’s phalanx-of-boomer referees, there is a revealing quote from former Sydney Olympics chief Sandy Hollway, who apparently was never contacted to vouch for Oakley (so that’s the boomer secret, eh – put an A-list someone you hardly know down as a referee, and then pray no one calls your bluff). Hollway said:

I found him a likeable fellow, but I couldn’t say I really knew him at all, really”.

Quite - “Jolly good sort”, and all that. A person can found be “likeable”, before they have any actual attributes, like qualifications, or, ahem, honesty. I doubt that you’d find me pre-emptively “likeable”, Sandy Hollway – and I’ll take that as a compliment, you glib little twit.

As for who “sprung” Oakley – the main contenders for which were Transurban, the University of Newcastle, and NIB Health – Rintoul’s feature clarifies this. There were actually three, unrelated “springings”: by a UNSW academic on Transurban’s board (in September 2001), by NIB Health’s recruitment agency (in May 2002), and by an unnamed Newcastle businessman speaking into the ear of the University of Newcastle V-C (in October 2002).

Credit here must primarily be given to NIB Health’s recruitment agency Korn/Ferry, who sprung Oakley simply by doing standard checks. In contrast, the springing by the UNSW academic on Transurban’s board was a lucky fluke, with that academic having personally taught all the MBA students in the year for which Oakley claimed to have got his from UNSW. However, neither NIB Health and its recruitment agency, nor Transurban and its recruitment agency, saw fit to warn subsequent employers about Oakley, most notably the University of Newcastle. As I said in the main post, it is incredibly unlikely that these were not routinely contacted, as the incumbent or penultimate employer.

Newcastle University does deserve a special commendation for supreme incompetence, though – they employed a man who was claiming, inter alia, two fictitious degrees from that very same institution.

Comments:
Glen Oakley could manage circles around most of you, even if he was pissed. he is a very bright and caring person. His people skills more than make up for his lack of academic hours.
 
Is Brigadier Glen Oakley still serving in the Australian Army Reserve?
 
Utter rubbish. He used to chide junior officers, telling tales of how he held down a career, studied, and climbed the Officer Corps in the Army Reserve.

He was an outright liar who made money by using the reputations of people who HAD made the effort to study. He should be in jail.

He resigned from the army Reserve before he was thrown out, and still bandies his rank around.
 
"Has the Army investigated former Brigadier Glen Oakley?" Extract from the ICAC Report published on www.icac.nsw.gov.au/files/html/pub2_87i.htm
"...When questioned about these documents Mr Oakley admitted that he had created false degrees in the late 1980s. He said that in his position with the Army he had come into possession of various degrees from the relevant universities. He used these to create false degrees in his name. He gave the following evidence:
What I did with them was that I photocopied them, inserted my name onto them and re-photocopied them. I'm not sure if I've made it explicit but through a series of photocopies I was able to create the impression that those degrees had been issued to me.
In his evidence to the Commission, Mr Oakley said he told Mr Arkell that ` ... some of the work that I had within the army required me to have qualifications that I didn't have and that they were the reasons why the qualifications were not bona fide'. He told the Commission that in saying this he was lying to Mr Arkell. He denied telling Mr Arkell that he had worked as an undercover operative for the military or that the qualifications were a military secret..."
 
Progress in the army up to field rank (Major) is based upon time in rank, satisfactory performance reports and passing a series of courses.

Above Major the process is a competitive one, and is based upon the above plus interviews and ‘external factors” like civilian qualifications and degrees.

Glenn Oakley would not have made it above Major had he not held an impressive list of civilian qualifications, and had not held a civilian executive appointment commensurate with his position in the army.

In short, had he been a mortuary attendant with a TAFE certificate to his name, he would not have been promoted to Brigadier.
 
Sorry for my bad english. Thank you so much for your good post. Your post helped me in my college assignment, If you can provide me more details please email me.
 
Where is Oakley now?
 
Im here old boy, starting up again!

how dare people here suggest that the army investigate me? dont you know who I am?

All i did was breach the armys trust in my use of other peoples documents to further my career, then lie to the army about my qualifications. Hardly worth reaching for the Mess Webley over is it?

Dammit chaps, i just loved being called Doctor, Professor, and Brigadier. I was planning to forge a knighthood too, but the buggers caught me out before the ink was dry....
 
glen Oakley now lives in Cebu in the Philippines, where he works in the shipping industry.


 
Briefly encountered around '86, from memory, in my capacity as a NUM in a Ramsay Health psychiatric inpatient facility. Certainly personable, and no doubt had 'people skills', unlike Tony Abbott. And certainly not an arrogant arsehole like his immediate underling, who, of course, shall remain nameless, for the purposes of this comment.
OK, if he'd been a medico, or a flight engineer; scary. But he was an administrator. Biggest victim in these circumstances, (barring decisions having clinical consequences), would be the EOFY balance sheet/P&L.No chance of small animals or children coming to harm.
Yes, egg on many faces as he pond-skimmed into the 90s. BTW, no0one has mentioned his sojourn at Ramsay Health, AFAIK, here, at least. Thought I'd add it in.
 
Worked with him for a while post 2003, You are right, it did effect the Balance Sheet and Client relationships!! Both Positively.
He was good at his job when i worked with him, and from all reports no "issues" arose in his other jobs, no one complained that he could not do his Job! Just did not have the appropriate Qualifications, So whom ever Claimed merit they uncovered it.. GOOD ON YOU!(Sarcasm)
Where ever you are G.O. and M.O
All the Best (F-11/1 Days)


 
Last heard of in Cebu PI setting up a shipping company.

 
Was he qualified? Not at all.

He was claiming a CPA, MBA, PhD, Lord knows what else. People trusted him. He displayed zero integrity - even when caught out he kept lying. Secret agent my foot.

Just a BS artist.
 
Was he "good at his job"?

Or was he just another public servant who did very little all day, and took home a fat pay cheque?

Anyone can hold the tiller, it's changing the direction of the boat that is the hard part.

I didn't see Oakley make any great decisions.
 
As Capt Oakley in 1 Commando Company in the mid-80's, he was an excellent Platoon Commander. Quite a surprise when all this came out. What was his final rank before he 'retired' from ADF ?
 
This comment has been removed by the author.
 
I knew him when I was a Cpl in the Army Reserve and he was a Colonel and the Commanding Officer of my battalion. He had an excellent leadership style. The last I heard he had attained the rank of Brigadier General. The sad thing is he clearly had the ability to attain the qualifications he claimed.
 
I went to school with Oakley. He was a bully and a pushy wanker back then. I spoke to some folks last year who worked with him in Newcastle. They said he was a clueless bully but clever covering his butt and manipulating people including employees. What a dramatic rise: Bully, Mortuary Assistant, Liar, Conman, Bully V.2.0, National Joke.
 
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