Navigating Data Privacy in Today’s Evolving Landscape

Town Hall Insights
UK CDO Community

Greg Hanson

VP EMEA & LATAM Sales Specialists



Kshitij Kumar

Chief Data Officer



Lee Fulmer

Global Head of Innovation, Chief Data Officer

UBS Inc.


Niresh Rajah

Head of Data & Regulatory Change Practice, Financial Services Group

Grant Thornton UK LLP


Data leaders from the world’s premier organisations participated in the UK CDO Town Hall to discuss how to navigate data privacy in today’s evolving landscape.

Greg Hanson, VP, EMEA & LATAM Sales Specialists at Informatica, moderated a panel discussion that included Kshitij Kumar, Chief Data Officer at Farfetch, Lee Fulmer, Global Head of Innovation and Chief Data Officer at UBS Inc., and Niresh Rajah, Head of Data and Regulatory Change Practice, financial services group at Grant Thornton UK LLP. This conversation provided insight into three central themes: the perception of privacy regulations, solving the privacy paradox and managing governance properly.

Changing the perception of privacy regulations from a defensive strategy to offensive value creation 

When asked, what is the perception of governance in your business? The panel dissected whether the perception is a laborious overhead required to avoid fines or if the business sees it adding real value.

“Traditionally, as a finance company, we have done governance defensively,” said Fulmer. 

At UBC Inc., they are constructively working with clients and partners to monetise the data they have by developing insight of patterns of behaviour for clients and partners. 

“Internally, we accumulate data from market sources and transactions to make our own commercial data sources and then sell it back to clients,” said Fulmer. “This helped us tie strategic compliance projects and business value together.”

To learn about UBC’s approach even further, Hanson asked if this way of approaching governance helped Fulmer drive outcomes?  

“The short answer is yes,” said Fulmer. “It’s not only about trying to combine effort to reduce cost but about building something you have to anyway and deriving business value from it.”

The basis for good governance has created opportunity – it has allowed Chief Data Officers to ask the question, ‘What is the purpose for which data is collected and managed?’ CDOs need to understand the purpose or they risk increasing costs of acquiring data their organisations do not need.

“It’s important that you are balancing governance with offensive and defensive strategies,” said Rajah. “You should focus on good data governance, good data quality and good models. This has multiple benefits that can allow you to have accurate data, and then upsell and cross-sell the data.”

Solving the privacy paradox of meeting global privacy regulations while fuelling data-driven innovation

Hanson set the tone for the privacy paradox conversation by saying custodianship of individuals’ data is part of customer engagement and customer experience and will be a differentiator in the marketplace. So, the question is, in a world rapidly becoming more data driven and a desire for data democratisation, how are you balancing privacy versus a clear business value from detailed understanding and application of your customers’ data? 

This question prompted an enriching debate between Kumar and Fulmer on cloud being able to solve for this or not. 

“I am a strong cloud believer, and we can do anything we want in the cloud,” said Kumar. “Cloud helped us immensely when COVID hit as we saw parts of our business shut down, yet were able to recover and provide service from other parts of the world.”

Fulmer disagreed that cloud is the answer. 

“Cloud has been around for 30 years,” said Fulmer. “It has just become simpler to manage. The one constant is that we have always had data issues. Most of us remember filling cabinets and the chaos they brought. Ironically, our biggest issues are the ‘digital’ filling cabinets we now have. We have kept everything! This is why storage and data duration are so important. We have too much digital waste. How can we figure out what data gives you value? As CDOs we need to get people to focus on finding out what is classed as meaningful information and why we need it from a business perspective. In terms of education, we aren’t focusing on data science or analytics. Instead we are educating the workforce on what are the business processes that they need to do, and what information do they need to do that.” 

“Regardless of what approach is taken, CDOs need to make it their mission to solve the pain points for the business,” said Rajah.

“Senior stakeholders and the board don’t need to see below the C-level, merely the use cases and benefits to the business and clients; however, underneath this is where the majority of the work needs to be done.”

Operationalising a data governance program to transform an organisation’s approach to data privacy

The panel discussion closed with the executives sharing best practices on how they have managed to democratise responsibility of data governance to their organisations as a whole, focusing on how they managed to reinforce the link to value and how that enabled them to prioritise work. 

“This can’t be done by just adding manpower,” said Kumar. “You need to understand what it actually means. We have a relatively small data organisation and many ‘data heroes’ deployed across the business. The data heroes are going into teams and helping put the dollar numbers in front. This is how we are going to generate value.”

Fulmer claims you need both data stewards and data ‘heroes.’ 

“You need support at the top to be able to do something different in the first place,” said Fulmer. “Aligning your data language with financial language is very important. We are now using language that ties to financial incentives, sales figures and economic profitability.”

Rajah at Grant Thornton UK LLP is focusing on their customers. 

“The angle we take is to understand the pain points of our clients to narrate and create use cases to solve problems, rather than using data for the sake of data,” said Rajah. “We have asked business leaders, rather than me or another leader from data, to come and talk about how data is helping solve their problems. You’ve got to get some wins under your belt, either results or process, early on.”


An Invaluable Network

The UK CDO Virtual Town Hall was attended by regional and global CDOs from leading organisations such as Burberry, Dyson, HSBC, ITV, Jaguar Land Rover, Penguin Random House, and Willis Towers Watson. This is the most senior gathering of data and analytics executives, with 95 percent of participants with C-level job titles or head the data analytics function within their enterprise.

This community is built by CDOs and for CDOs, to drive innovative ideas, share forward-looking perspectives and solve critical leadership challenges through peer-to-peer collaboration.


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