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Five Ways to Build an Effective Data Privacy Team

TRU Staffing Partners January 31, 2022 at 3:22 PM

Recent worldwide regulations, the lingering pandemic, and an onslaught of security breaches have made the need for data privacy more important today than ever before. Savvy leaders across departments have are realizing that time is a-wasting in their quests to develop stringent data protection policies and procedures to ensure their organizations are compliant.

The first step in that data privacy compliance process is often to build a knowledgeable, well-rounded team of privacy professionals who build, scale, and operationalize organizational privacy programs and policies. But where do you get these specialized experts? With the need for talent with privacy experience at an all-time high, it’s difficult to find the right staff.

This past week, the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) hosted a deep-dive panel discussion on this topic on LinkedIn. Featured speakers were industry experts Uber Chief Privacy Officer Ruby Zefo and our own TRU Staffing CEO Jared Coseglia, both of whom stressed that filling the privacy talent gap isn’t easy. There were five common stepping stones to success they shared:

1. Determine what your privacy team needs to accomplish.

  • Look at industry research, governance goals, interview company stakeholders, ask around within your organization and then develop metrics for the levels of skill, expertise, and salary ranges you require. Emulate what other organizations and firms in your same circumstances are doing.
  • You may find that you don’t need very high-level, highly compensated privacy experts or those who solve specialized privacy issues to accomplish your immediate goals. You may find that existing staff who currently handle some aspects of privacy could be effective team members. Collaborate with other departments to cross-train current staff and then work to fill knowledge gaps.

2. Don’t feel that you have to hire full-time privacy experts all at once.

  • Contact and contingent staffing options from trusted staffing search firms will work well in building a knowledgeable privacy team. TRU Staffing Partners can help you get started – we have plug-and-play privacy experts ready to solve your biggest challenges from chief privacy officers, privacy counsel, privacy attorneys, to corporate and specialized privacy analysts.
  • Contract staffing options allow you to scale up or down with ease, providing the exact expertise you need wherever it is needed on your team. And contract employees who become a perfect fit can always be converted to full-time as your budget and needs allow. Speaking of budget…

3. Get the funding you need for your privacy team locked in as soon as you set the team’s goals.

  • Funding your team requires a hard, honest look at your must-haves. The panel speakers strongly stressed that to build credibility with your management team and partners, begin by asking for only what is crucial to get the team running. Compile numbers that serve your overall goal for staffing for the tasks that you must complete in the short term. For example, document the exact needs for your privacy team (salary requirements, capital expenses, outside vendors, engineering and automation needs, etc.) and note the cost for each request. Then compare the “asks” with the cost and risks of meeting all the privacy requirements, legal expenses, and compliance mandates your team will face. See the IAPP Salary Survey for assistance – this survey can help you assign salaries for the levels of privacy professionals you need.

4. Determine the best traits and skillsets your privacy team members would need.

  • Look at candidates with very strong skill sets in privacy work and compatible fields like cybersecurity and compliance law. The panel pointed out how important it is to bring on stable and objective individuals from diverse backgrounds who will all share your organization’s vision. Develop a single set of principles to apply to each candidate to make the hiring process fair and equitable. Consider candidates’ experience, strengths, accomplishments, and work ethics. Look for candidates who are resilient in a changing environment and who maintain a global mentality – because privacy is now an overarching global concern. The panel speakers pointed out that privacy professionals must be constant learners, eager collaborators, and good team players.
  • Another important factor in the interview process includes having very knowledgeable interviewers speak to candidates. The interview process has changed during the pandemic – actions must be swift, deliberate, and functional. Candidates want to know that the people they are meeting with understand the roles they are hiring for and can speak their language. Lag time is no longer tolerated because candidates have so many options right now. The key is to hire decisively and deliberately, remaining attentive throughout the process.
  • The panel also discussed the trend toward job ads seemingly pointed at “unicorns” or highly specialized privacy professionals (HIPAA-only or high-tech centric). No one considered this a good idea since most truly specialized pros work through agents or search firms. Very few candidates found jobs through these specialized job ad approaches.

In the last two years, there were 3 key factors motivating job seekers.

1. Ability to work from home or to remain remote
2. Adequate, fair compensation
3. Mentoring capability from staff/management Attribute quote to Jared Coseglia

5. Work hard to retain the team members once you have secured them.

      • This last step was deemed the most important by the panel. COVID and lockdowns brought a whole new way of working into the global culture. Candidates expect to be able to maintain some of those perks, if not all. The best way to keep a hard-earned team, according to the panel, is to keep motivation as high as possible. So, follow up with these teams frequently, notice and acknowledge their efforts and care about what they care about. It goes a long way to building professional loyalty.

The privacy industry changes constantly, and your needs will change as your team grows and regulations and compliance directives morph and become more stringent. It’s crucial to keep on top of the industry, how it works and how your team must adapt. Let us help you along your journey to building the best possible privacy team. 

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