Monday, 4 June 2012

Branching out

After over twenty years of having enjoyed the honour of being an employee for various companies, and being paid for doing the data protection work I love, I’ve branched out on my own.

The next twelve months – at least – will be a period during which I will be determined to prove to myself that I can create a bespoke consultancy practice, where likeminded people will congregate to help each other out and find solutions that fit the lives of British – and European - citizens.

I hope that I’ve picked up enough skills along the way to demonstrate to potential clients that I care about this data protection stuff. I do care about fairness and transparency, and I care about being able to deliver solutions that are ethical and far-sighted.

I’m reminded of the advice that Aaron Sorkin gave to this year’s graduates when delivering his Commencement Speech at Syracuse University. I know that there will be times when I’m going to fall down. But I’m not going to care about how many times I fall down, so long as it’s one fewer than the number of times I get back up again.

I sense I’m going to rock the boat along the way, too. Not everyone will approve of the way I work, or of the way I (occasionally) speak out about the issues that grip me each day. But, like Aaron Sorkin, I’m well aware that decisions are made by those who show up. And I intend to keep on showing up, on the conference circuit and around the Westminster village, and beyond, to gently remind the principal decision makers of the consequences of particular choices that they feel need to be taken.

I’m also determined to remain on the best of terms with everyone I’ve previously worked with. We are all people with a passion, and all we have our own opinions – and I’m far too modest to suggest that my current opinion is the only one worth listening to. In a way, that’s the challenge that I’m most looking forward to – I know my current clients extremely well, and so I know what advice best suits their particular risk appetites. And, I hope to continue to develop the great working relationship I have with them. Equally, I’m really looking forward to understanding just why it is that new clients will have slightly different desires, different challenges and different risk appetites. Critically, the customers of these new clients are likely to be the same individuals whose interests I've been protecting for the past two decades anyway, so I'm confident that I know what they need.

Starting a business for the first time, dealing with lawyers and accountants on issues about which until recently I had no understanding, is invigorating and great fun. Lots more decisions need to be taken before I can fully apply my thoughts to the creative side of data protection advice. But I’m so glad to have taken the opportunity to see what creating a business is all about. And I do hope to continue to show up, as it were, on this blog, to offer a slightly different take on data protection than one would get just by reading the professional journals.

My blog may well offer a less serious approach than other commentators adopt, but who ever said that data protectors shouldn’t be allowed have fun as they worked!