How to break into Privacy as a Career

This topic seems to be more important than ever given the global demand (okay, mainly the European demand) for experienced privacy professionals. But how do you get experience if no one will hire you – and how do you get hired without having experience?

For privacy in particular, the IAPP has stepped up its efforts – recognizing the need to train professionals quickly and maintain quality. They offer online training in the General Data Protection Regulation and European data protection, available online and in person.  In addition, there is a Privacy Law Specialist recognized through the American Bar Association (squeee – very excited for this).

But what if you are not a member of the IAPP?  First, join it. There are people who have personal issues with either the IAPP or with certifications, but frankly, with very little else in the world to compete with this recognition – it’s pretty much the only game in town. There are other certifications and groups, don’t get me wrong – there are health care privacy certifications, research certifications, ISO27k certifications, CISSP, and many more. But still, CIPP, is what companies look for when looking for someone skilled in privacy.

Does being certified in information privacy mean you are an expert – no. But it is a way of demonstrating that you passed an objective measurement that indicates that you have a baseline knowledge. Call me old-fashioned, but to me, if you have been measured and found acceptable, then I expect you to demonstrate that knowledge. I am often disappointed – don’t get me started on registered nurses, doctors, and attorneys that I consider to be incompetent. That’s a whole ‘nother blog.

Back to the point of the post – you can break into the privacy field, whether you are an attorney or not. Play to your strengths and enter through a related position. If you are a litigator, start litigating on privacy issues. If you work in a bank, get into the privacy office. If you are in insurance . .. well, you should get the point. Contact the people in the privacy area of where you work, or want to work, and be upfront with them.

Make connections. Network. And keep in mind that networking, while you hope it will benefit you at some point, is not about you. It is about the person you want to know.  What can you do for them?  And then don’t be afraid to use your network to help others. Good deeds will come around.

Be active in discussion groups. Comment on stories that people post. Engage others – and on intellectual points, not in arguments. Get your name out there.

Start writing articles for industry publications. They love new blood and insight.

Join committees and work.  Don’t just lurk. Work.

And most of all, pay attention. Right now, the application for the Privacy Law Specialist is due. Today.  And I completely missed the news on it, being heavily engaged in actual working. So… sigh. I won’t be in the inaugural group, which sucks. But it underscores a key point – pay attention and execute on a timely basis.

Make sure your name, when called, is meaningful.

If you have other suggestions, please comment. If you have questions, please ask.

 

Advertisements

“I think I’m Doing Too Much”

I think I’m doing too much. My family had never heard me say those words. Never. And I don’t just mean my kids – my mom, everyone/no one. Those who know me might recognize that I am a hyper-personality, high spirited, too “damn” perky – pick your descriptor. I have always been busy. I started work at maybe 13, 14 years old. I know in one job, I lied about my age….could never get away with that now!

I never cared much for grades, so it is not that I was one of those over-achieving students. I wanted the knowledge, not the external recognition. Given that I generally scored in the top half percent of the top 1% of all those standardized tests, I was classified as a classic underachiever. You laugh now.

But I became too busy. Personally and professionally. privacy lawyer, silicon valley global med tech company check. BCRs (controller and processor – first ever dual application) check. HIPAA check. Emerging tech check. lawyer check. executive check. consulting check. blogging check. start writing a book (check, but leave unchecked that I finished it) – same with PhD  in dissertation phase for 3 years now. Check check check. Happily married finally. 2 amazing, accomplished daughters. Leadership roles in global professional organizations. volunteering with non-profits. great friends. good books. loving pets. awesome home. 150+ pairs of shoes. Mrs. Scottsdale America. Speaking on a variety of subjects to different audiences. teaching law classes. Mercedes AMG. money in savings. off most lupus meds. I even lost 30 pounds. checking all over the place. BUT….

– I was busy, but things were getting accomplished. Yet for the first time in my life – I was overwhelmed. I mean, hell – I survived things that killed others. I know I am lucky – and I give the praise to the God I trust and worship. But I was overwhelmed. Even my adult ADD wasn’t saving me this time.

I have learned that when you need to slow down, you either do it or you’re forced to do it. 

So I have slowed down. I am able to take stock of my goals and my 5 – 10 – 15 year plan. I kinda sorta had a plan, and executed it immaculately despite myself. I know what it important for me professionally and personally – and everything else. everything. is nonessential to my life.

Face the hard decisions. And face them head on with determination and consideration. Be brutally honest with yourself about what matters – and what is simply busy work, or chasing a dream that you thought you should have, or doing things that are expected of someone in your field. Focus on what matters. And yes, professional goals matter too. We spend most of our waking hours working (which can suck if you don’t do what you love), so don’t knock having professional goals and dreams.

Some of us may not be in a position to be choosy, but if it is at all possible – take a step towards being in a place to choose. One step at a time. My goal, growing up poor in Mississippi was 1) be able to walk into a superstop (quickie mart, 7/11, whatever the local corner store is) and buy a coke without having to balance my checkbook first and 2) go on a great vacation every year. #1 I can do. #2 – my definition of a great vacation seems to be morphing.

I’m still young (I tell people I am 74 and looks dayum good for my age), but I am 47 years old. I am young and in a field (privacy law) that is growing leaps and bounds. I know and love some amazing people, both personally and professionally, and I work for some phenomenal people/companies that I respect and hope to continue those relationships.

And I still need to finish that dissertation. this year.

So being too busy was my come to Jesus moment. And I survived it with some hits to the pocket book, ego, health, and personal matters. Maybe that is what it took. I do not ever want to say or feel those words again. I want to be in deliberate control of my life. Live with purpose.

 

Stretch Yourself

stretch yourself

photo courtesy of Marc Scott 

What we think determines what happens to us, so if we want to change our lives, we need to stretch our minds. ~Wayne Dyer

Have you ever really thought about what it takes to stretch yourself? Physically, we understand this. But what about our minds, our dreams – a mind and a dream in motion stays in motion as well as a body does.

This wonderful blog by Ron Edmonson provides seven ways to stretch yourself as a leader:

  • Read something different from what you normally read.
  • Hang out with people not like you.
  • Move forward on something with uncertainty.
  • Attempt something you’ve never done.
  • Spend more time on opportunities than on problems.
  • Schedule and discipline time to dream.
  • Stay physically active.

When you consider each of the points, they apply to more than just being a leader. They apply to life. But go further – step outside your comfort zone and reach for something that is a little beyond your limits.

Professionally, reach for that dream job, but do so in a deliberate manner. Reach out to your heroes. I just read an article about a young entrepreneur who encourages her team members to do that – reach out. It’s only an email. It may be ignored and it may yield amazing results!

Personally, take a chance. Now, this doesn’t have to be take a chance with your life or your love – although it may turn out to be just that. Rock climbing is certainly dangerous, as is skydiving, driving a racecar, climbing Mount Everest – but if that is your dream, reach for it in a deliberate manner. Prepare yourself properly. In love, well, I met my husband online and we married within 6 months. 14 something years later – still going strong. And that was a chance for me as I survived two abusive marriages. I felt I was putting my life at risk to try for love one more time, but I stretched myself and had unfathomable results.

Stretch yourself. Reach for that dream – be in personally, professionally, or physically. With all things, prepare yourself properly. And it is scary, most things worth winning don’t feel really comfortable in the effort. Maybe you take baby steps – maybe you throw all in and dare the fates (not legal advice here!!), but challenge yourself to do one thing every day that stretches you in some way.

Every day. Read the news (that’s a stretch for me). Ask the janitor’s name. Give a flower to a stranger. Shake a cop’s hand. Let the other person go first at the 4-way stop. Little things.

Plan that dream vacation and determine how to get there. Apply for that once-in-a-lifetime job. Email your hero. Start that book – chapter 1.

If you want a raise or a promotion, talk to your boss and make a plan. Find out if you have opportunity where you are. Ask to be in on a big project. Identify an issue that needs to be addressed and formulate a plan. Never take a problem to your boss unless you have  a proposed solution as well. Try for a certification. Submit a panel for a conference proposal.  Sit at a table with people you don’t already know. Stretch yourself.

Reach for the moon and if you miss, you’ll still land among the stars!

teaching, learning, doing,& dreaming

It’s been a dream of mine to teach college or more correctly, simply be involved with college students at some level. See, right out of law school, I worked at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. It was not named after that glorious woman when I started, but I was there during the renaming.

teachI’ve had this dream and as I write this entry, I have to wonder how this sounds. Do I think I am so great that I should have the chance to influence others? Or is it that those cannot do, teach? Not so narcissistic as the former and not so incompetent as the latter. Or so I hope.

I feel in love with the relationships one builds with students – how they change and grow, how they learn, how one small thing can change their lives and they can go on to change the lives of others. Yeah yeah. I’m a dreamer. But I truly believe in the power of people and only people can change this world. And we need all the people in this world to be part of the change – if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem, right?

I mentored a fabulous young man, Juan, starting when he was in 5th grade until he finished 8th grade. We stayed in touch and he came to live with us later to go to college. We had a conversation about why going to college was important when he could get (and he had) a job he loved that paid him well. It’s not about the money, it’s about the ability to participate actively in the governance of your community. Civic engagement. Now, that can happen at all levels, but in this nation, we have a huge problem – most leadership positions are held by a rather homogenous group. We need minorities and women to be equally represented. Until the leadership of this nation resembles that of its people, we will continue to experience the consequences of non-representation.

I had left academia due to my husband’s job and have been trying to get back to it ever since. Few colleges want to hire in someone who has been in the corporate world (and the pay cut is hard to take in order to work one’s way up the ranks), so my options are to volunteer and/or be an adjunct professor. (Now, if there is anyone with a college or university reading this – trust me, I am so worth the seeming risk. It’s my calling.)

This past year, my dream started coming true.  I am now teaching an online course in fundamental law to master’s students and an in-person course on privacy (big data and emerging technologies). And oh my goodness, the students are so worth it. I love the engagement, the discussions, the worries and questions. And I love having both populations of students: online grad students and in-person. Funny, I never considered that my in-person would include undergrad students, but it does! How cool is that?

I’ll never be a scholar (despite my PhD efforts) – I am not so eloquent or studious. I am a practitioner and a very practical one at that. I have the opportunity to combine my two loves – privacy and students. And for now, I am in hog heaven. good googli moo

 

Life takes you to unexpected places. Love brings you home….

sunsetI’ve been radio silent lately – not only did I switch jobs, but I moved states.

I consider home to be in Arizona – a true transplanted southerner. Although I did not move from Mississippi until I was almost 30 years old,  I’ve made up the time in the states I have lived: TN, AZ, TX, and CA (and a short stint in AR as a traveling nurse).  I had moved to Tennessee from MS in 1996 to work as a registered nurse. and was later I admitted to law school at the University of Tennessee, but had to defer. My then husband had a psychotic break and it was dangerous for us to stay in Knoxville. So I gave the best dog I ever owned (a wolf mix named Elliott) to my attorney, packed the girls (ages 7 and 9), and took a one-way non-stop flight to Phoenix.

What a culture shock.

See, my home town is Meridian, MS, population around 30,000 (50,000 with the surrounding area). Not really small. Trust me, I don’t know everyone there. But there is a certain standard of living that is easy to become accustomed. It was the only standard I’d really ever known. Even TN was still the South, so while it was a change. .. the people did not really change.

In AZ, I went to work for a start-up fabless semiconductor company based out of Canada that was working on streaming video on cell phones – unheard of 15 years ago. Loved it!

and then the technology market crashed in 2000. I had put off law school in TN for a year, but fell in love with Arizona. So I applied way past the due date for Arizona State University. They had no obligation to open my envelope…but they did. I suppose a top 3% LSAT is worth something. Not a scholarship, but late admission. I took it.

I met my beloved husband here. Never thought I would marry again – and he broad-sided me. I had mentioned to someone that I wanted a love that soaked into my very cells, a visceral level of love. And he found me.

Then his job took us to Texas in 2008, and forced me to give up one of the best positions that I had ever had working at the College of Law at ASU in student life and pro bono. What a fabulous way to make a living.

But Texas was good to us. We livedin Plano with the second best school district in the nation. The girls received an incredible education. I got into privacy and security at Concentra. If working with students is my first love, privacy is my second. Once the girls graduated, we started looking how to get back to Arizona…and wound up in San Jose, CA. I never was really good at geography.

Working for Align Technology (Invisalign) in the Silicon Valley as a global privacy attorney – WOW. Not much I can add to that. Amazing colleagues. Amazing company.  And amazing location. We thought we were set.  We bought a house. Done.

But circumstances drove us back to Arizona. My family is everything to me. So we are here. And I was lucky enough to be recruited by one of my best friends into a growing company that focuses on securing mobile communication (voice and text) for regulated industries (CellTrust Corporation). So not only am I the privacy attorney, I am also the subject matter expert for privacy in product and service delivery. It’s quite a rush.

Further, being back in Arizona has worked well for my girls, who are both doing amazing. My husband started working here before I did with another start up that appreciateshis incredible talents. And I am getting back involved in local activities – volunteering for Arizona Foundation for Legal Services and Education, appointed back to the state bar committee for minorities and women in the law, reconnecting worn the Volunteer Lawyers Project, adjunct teaching at the law school – the fun just keeps coming. We close on a house in Scottsdale next week and it’s a dream house!

My lesson – life takes you to unexpected places. Love brings you home. I am where I am supposed to be.

You have arrived: how does one define success?

I once had a navigation system that when I reached my programmed destination, it would say “You have arrived.” I would circle the block just to hear that over and over.

success

In a professional world, when do you know you have arrived? Is there ever a point where an individual who has accomplished much thinks “this is enough” and stops trying to accomplish more?

As a hospice nurse, I worked with many patients who faced their last months, weeks, days and were able to look back over their lives and say they did well, they were happy with the totality of their lives if not some particular details. Outside that environment, it seems to be rare.

How do you define success?

Some undeniably successful people define it in this article:

  • Success is more than wealth and power – it is wellbeing, wisdom, wonder, and giving according to Arianna Huffington, founder of Huffington Press.
  • Maya Angelou believes it is about enjoying what you do.
  • Deepak Chopra says success means constantly growing.

Oprah provides this article of the ten signs of success – or rather, that your life is on the right track. It includes such things as:

  • Your reputation precedes you;
  • Having a deep connection to those you love – like picking up the phone to call each other at the same time; and
  • To not be burnt out.

That’s all well and fine, but this is not about recognizing if you are doing the right thing or have become successful as measured by wealth, title, accomplishments, awards, or recognition. It’s about knowing when is enough enough? When should it be enough?

This study by Princeton University in 2010 says that the pivotal salary is $75,000 annually.

The lower a person’s annual income falls below that benchmark, the unhappier he or she feels. But no matter how much more than $75,000 people make, they don’t report any greater degree of happiness.

The Wall Street Journal helpfully converted that salary for cost of living in different locations.

So, once you make $75,000, then that is enough? And enough for what? Do we strive for a meaningful job, to help other people, for future stability, to have good health, to ensure your family has food, shelter, and the other necessities of life? At what point can you determine that all your needs are met – be it the basic necessities, the desired luxuries, or satisfaction in one’s actions?

Let’s return to the original question: In a professional world, when do you know you have arrived? Where is the point where you can honestly feel that you have accomplished what you wanted in your career and stop clawing to reach the top – and who defines the top?

For each individual, this is an intensely personal decision. I do believe that for most people, career gain tends to wain and gives way to some level of altruism. Some people may never view a career in an ambitious manner. They take pride in what they are doing and are happy  doing that for as long as necessary – a job is a way to earn the funds required to live in our world as well as fulfill some need of which there is a value assigned.

My grandfather James D. Fairchild never seemed to be ambitious. He delivered gas in rural Mississippi most of his life. There never seemed be his goal to advance to management. He spent his days delivering gas to people’s homes – for their residential gas tanks (propane). He knew everyone. Everyone knew him. I don’t recall him bragging on any accomplishments, winning awards, or getting big promotions or titles. He was proud of the service he provided. And he was valued by customers and the company. In fact, the company – when ready to shut down – refused to close its doors until the last member of family retired. It’s a Southern thing.

My younger self had a goal – to be able to walk into a convenience store to buy a coke without having to balance my checkbook first. I have accomplished that.

My other goal was to live somewhere other than Mississippi. I accomplished that.

Then I developed professional goals – to do something i enjoyed. To be intellectually challenged. To help others. And to travel internationally. Most I have accomplished. One I have not – not really. I don’t think Costa Rica truly counts.

So is this enough? And if something is enough, do you stop? One lady informed me that her professional goal was to take a start-up to IPO. And she did that. She was still not in a position to retire, so she looked for something she enjoyed doing and stopped focusing on professional ambition.

It is a reality that even if most of us accomplish our career goals, that we are not independently wealthy enough to stop working. Some may have independently wealthy as their professional goal, but for most of us, it is not realistic.

Some of us would never stop working even if we acquired status of being ridiculously wealthy. Maybe our career goals then change and we work to be busy, help others, improve the world in some fashion – or maybe to indulge personal passions such as traveling, writing, or designing homes.

Some people have no drive to accomplish something professionally. They are content and fulfilled in their lives – and their job is a means to an end in which they take pride in doing. They may be the happier people.

If you are using professional recognition and success to serve as personal validation, you may never reach enough. You must learn to value yourself as a person.

If work is your escape from your personal life, you also may never reach enough; but you may not care. Your drivers are different.

The rest of us (not in the three groups above), the point the we reach enough is driven by who we are, what we are looking for, what we need and/or want, and how we balance the rest of our lives. “Enough” may never be reached.

Set specific career goals and anything beyond those – you’re gravy.