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Christine Andrews, Managing director, DQM Group

Path to power

 

I started life in BT’s customer communications team, intending to stay for about two years, but ending up doing 11 years, working in advertising, marketing and sales, mostly for SMEs. I then moved to Cable and Wireless to develop the company’s attack on the SME market, working in sales and marketing before running contact centres globally for all enterprises, with board member responsibility for CRM. Tired of travelling and leaving my family (twins then aged eight), I changed tack in 2003 and became a shareholder and director in a four-person data protection and data management business, which became DQM Group and then DQM GRC (now part of GRC International). DQM GRC was one of the first companies to recognise data as a valuable business asset that needs protecting before it can become an essential asset for driving business potential. We have grown this company to a team of 32 today and I’m proud to support most of the large data owners in terms of data protection and governance, as well as a host of customers wanting to avoid becoming a data disaster and become data-driven.

 

What has been the highlight of your career in the industry to date?

 

In the last few years, finally seeing data protection recognised as an important boardroom issue with the introduction of the GDPR/Data Protection Act 2018. Having spent the last 15 years talking (largely to deaf ears) about its importance, it’s great to see traction at last in all companies. Developing solutions and providing support to our clients which has helped them be GDPR-ready has been massively rewarding.

 

If you could give your younger self some advice about how to progress in this industry, what would it be?

 

Hire slow, fire fast - once you get into management positions, ensuring you have a team around you that you can trust and who share your visions and values. If in doubt, don’t hire!If anything, 2018 was busier than I’d expected especially after the 25th May GDPR deadline. Many companies have acknowledged data protection is now a “lifelong” project, with much of the hard work starting in May, and is not just a tick box exercise and so have continued to require support. The volume of major data breaches reported before May 2018 (or where the ICO fined under the old regime) continues to be very high. Who can forget Cambridge Analytica, British Airways, Facebook and Marriott Hotels, to name but a few?

 

What do you expect 2019 to be like for the industry?

 

For those of us in data protection consultancies, 2019 should be a year of consolidation in terms of ensuring data protection is a key business enabler for our clients and is not something to be forgotten after the mad rush pre-May 2018. Those who embrace the privacy needs of their customers and who are fully transparent with how they use data should reap the benefits.

 

Talent and skills are always a challenge to find - how are you tackling this in your organisation?

 

We use a great team of associates who have extensive experience of how data is used in business and who can provide a pragmatic approach to data protection problems. Using people who have specific skills and industry experience means we can provide the best solution for our customers. It also gives them the chance to operate on a variety of projects which makes their engagements more enjoyable.

 

What aspect of data, analytics or their use are you most optimistic about and why?

 

Much less consumer spam email - most of these seemed to stop after 25th May 2018. Marketers have to work harder for the engagement they want from their customers. Companies have recognised that while they can legitimately market to their customers, they need to realise if they send unengaging content, consumers will opt-out and then it’s game over from a marketing perspective. Data and analytics technology/service provider

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