When it comes to leaders in protection and defence, uniformed heroes on the front line could be the first to spring to mind. In the increasingly digitised world, however, often forgotten and overlooked are the unsung protectors and champions who defend our data privacy.
Annelies Moens CMgr FIML has been instrumental in shaping the privacy profession. Managing million dollar portfolios, her work has protected our personal information and data within the public, private and not for profit sectors. Annelies’ passion for privacy is increasingly sought as our societies, legislators and leaders decide what values and ethics we want to embed into our technology and regulation.
As we develop more connected data ecosystems, and grapple with the fear of losing control of our personal information, Annelies’s work is invaluable. From her time on the front lines of data protection, Annelies has first hand knowledge of the significant, long term impacts to individuals and businesses of data breaches.
As a global thought leader, Annelies Co-founded the Australian and New Zealand industry membership body iappANZ in 2008 and was on the Board of Directors for 6 years, ultimately serving as President.
Annelies’ commitment to investing in her leadership development has meant that in addition to being a qualified lawyer and international MBA graduate, she has become one of the first Chartered Managers in Australia.
You have transitioned your career a number of times, and recently started your own business. Tell us what led you to becoming a Privacy and Data expert.
I started my privacy career in 2001 with a background in IT and law. Back then there were no careers in privacy. I initially applied for an exciting role at the privacy regulator. There I managed teams of auditors and investigators, resolving disputes between individuals whose data had been compromised, and big business and government. It was a very niche area and not many people understood its importance and impact.
Today it is different. Every day we are all impacted in some way, and stories abound in the media about privacy. Just consider the impact of the Facebook Cambridge Analytica issue on peoples’ perception of how data is used and disclosed. Consider electronic health records and their potential uses or abuses, automated decision making in everyday transactions, use of third party cloud service providers to store our data, deployment of facial biometrics at airports, and the list goes on.
With the development of the privacy discipline, a few privacy pioneers including myself created a professional membership body for privacy professionals in Australia and New Zealand in 2008, called the iappANZ. As a Founding Board Director and later President, we established in the region a highly successful membership organisation that has advanced and developed the privacy profession.
After several years managing privacy consultants in Australia, I now consult internationally. My vision is to make privacy core business – a discipline which will become as integral to business as the Chief Financial Officer. After all, much of the value of a company’s business is in the data.
How should individuals and organisations be protecting and governing their data, and what’s important to have in place?
Most organisations are custodians of customer data. How they manage it impacts the level of trust in commerce generally and the level of trust customers have with that organisation, whether it is a private business, government or not for profit. How do organisations handle complaints and deal with data breaches? What do they do with customer data? How organisations manage data can rapidly become an ecosystem problem if not done well. Those with weak security and privacy practices reduce trust for everybody.
As such, managers and leaders need to consider how data is governed in their organisations and what they can do to help build trust, by considering culture, risk management frameworks, accountability, key indicators and relationships with regulators.
Individuals can also help protect themselves and their data by implementing two-factor authentication which these days is very simple to use. There are multiple great free options usable with a wide range of email and social media providers, and other service providers. Individuals need to challenge businesses and government when they feel their data is not being managed in line with their expectations. Businesses and government need to be transparent with how their customers’ data is processed.
What are you most proud of?
Helping to shape and influence a growing privacy profession, which is going to become increasingly important as our societies, legislators, managers and leaders decide what values and ethics we want to build into our technology and regulation, as we develop more connected data ecosystems.
What motivated you to pursue the Chartered Manager accreditation with the Institute of Managers and Leaders?
For more than 15 years I have had a strong connection with IML. My journey with IML started when it was called the Australian Institute of Management, and I decided to undertake the mini MBA they offered. The Chartered Manager Accreditation was introduced in Australia in mid-2017, after 10 years operation in the United Kingdom.
I was one of the first in Australia to undertake the accreditation. It was a way to recognise my management and leadership expertise, as well as evaluate where I was in my journey at the time. Particularly, it was invaluable when I was undertaking a potential management buyout process in 2017.
Having a third party assess and provide objective feedback helps determine whether you are on the right management and leadership track, and what, if any, changes you may need to make. I am a strong believer in continuous personal development and learning, and have instilled that in all the teams I have led.
In what way has achieving internationally recognised Chartered Manager status impacted your leadership journey?
The greater recognition of achieving Chartered Manager status affords opportunities to help others. As your leadership journey is recognised and valued, you are given opportunities to help others and provide advice.
What’s one piece of advice for future female leaders?
Define what success means to you holistically. Don’t worry about what others think is successful as it is different for everyone. Know what you want and take risks. Believe in yourself and hold your own values no matter the pressure. Open yourself to opportunities and continue to learn – we live in a time of continuing rapid change.
To find out more about Chartered Manager, visit charteredmanager.com.au.