What do you do?
I lead an EMEA team to help organisations identify, gather, analyse and review information they have to respond to a legal, regulatory or compliance demand. I also lead a software development team to create solutions to solve previously unsolved complex data challenges. More recently, I’ve taken on the exciting and rewarding role of leading our diversity, inclusion and belonging efforts for Technology EMEA in FTI Consulting, which goes hand in hand with innovation and growing our business.
When we talk about ‘big data’, sometimes it’s the volume that is a challenge. And sometimes it’s the complexity. In my world, extracting meaning from unstructured data, whether that’s emails and office documents, or even chats and social media, is as complicated as it gets, and that’s before we have 500 million communications to deal with!
What’s keeping you busy?
With clients, I’m working with some financial institutions to consolidate data from various systems for compliance purposes. With huge volumes of information from a range of different systems needed to understand the full picture, there’s some clever analytics going on to identify relationships and reduce false positives.
From an R&D perspective, I’m looking into how we can use the cloud to enrich information and to make analytics more streamlined and accessible – whether it’s building machine learning models to categorise images, sentiment analysis for fraud detection, or transcription for surveillance, many of the big cloud providers offer fantastic tools which we can use, and by taking a multi-cloud approach, you can access the latest developments from the huge R&D budgets that these cloud providers have.
What mentors or other influential figures have helped you get where you are today?
As a younger oartner, I know that there’s some experience you can only get with time and age. As such, I’ve found reverse mentoring extremely helpful throughout my career. I shan’t name some of those mentors, but receiving open, honest and timely feedback from my reports has helped to shape my leadership style and to keep it relevant as people far younger than me enter the workplace and demand an ever-evolving leadership style.
If you could change one data-related law, how and why would you change it?
The Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act are new EU regulations intended to level the playing field to promote innovation, growth and competitiveness in the EU and globally. In addition to introducing measures relating to addressing illegal content, the Digital Services Act also places further obligations for online platforms including online marketplaces, app stores around transparency, due diligence and EU representation. The Digital Markets Act may limit how tech companies combine datasets. This may hinder innovation with being able to provide personalised services. For instance, if I take a trip somewhere, I want my airline, taxi and hotel to be able to share this data because if my flight is delayed, I would like for the car service and hotel booking to be able to update automatically. We understand the competitive problem of data monopolies when all the data is locked into a certain provider. However, through greater data sharing and portability, we can help to create more competition without stifling innovation not only for startups but also for established players to provide better services to consumers.
How has covid-19 affected what you do?
Interestingly, it’s made clients take another look at alternative ways of getting access to their data – whether it’s being more accepting of not needing to keep it ‘behind the firewall’, as in-person projects are much harder these days, or the opposite – appreciating that once data is out, there’s a need to make sure it’s still protected so more scrutiny on how we look after our client’s data.
What’s the next big thing – what data opportunities are companies now looking at?
Identification of personal data, for so many different reasons. Whether it’s from an information governance perspective, or getting a post-breach understanding of the data subjects involved, or making sure data is free of personal information before it’s transferred outside of Europe to say, the US, and of course, being able to cost-effectively handle the dreaded DSAR.
What’s keeping companies worried at the moment – what are some key data risks?
What we used to call ‘emerging data sources’ have very much emerged and that means more places to govern/search/export. More matters than ever now involve Teams, Slack, or data from another collaboration platform. With this being the ‘new normal’, we’re seeing more sources being considered that perhaps previously weren’t, such as ticketing and project management systems. Being able to understand a chronology of events across a range of communication mediums is the latest challenge: you found something interesting that Jon Chan said in a particular channel in Microsoft Teams, so now you want to find out what else he said within that hour on other channels, emails and WhatsApp!
What do you do to relax?
I love to dine out and lockdown has manifested that into exploring new recipes in the kitchen. That plus regular exercise is a vicious (but delicious) circle!