Career Story – Aleksandra Danielewicz
What do you do now and what do you enjoy about it?
I am Aleksandra Danielewicz, I’m a privacy lawyer who often found herself busy on Friday evenings trying to analyse, assess risk and decide whether to report a personal data breach to the appropriate authorities. Working in a large corporate reality means that everybody tries to get rid of their remaining tasks before leaving the office for the weekend and Aleksandra, unfortunately, was often receiving those incident notifications all at once and at the last minute. This repetitive and painful situation pushed me to look for a solution to ease the burden and the stress of managing data incidents in a timely, structured and automated way.
That’s how my startup was born, and that’s why I created the Data Breach Management Tool – a piece of software for GDPR compliance that helps organizations quickly manage privacy breaches, thereby reducing the risk of massive regulatory penalties. Privacy Optimization is a RegTech/LegalTech start-up which helps organizations navigate the complex landscape of privacy regulations by providing Privacy Audit, Privacy Consulting and complex processes optimization: Data Breach Management Tool.
I am a practitioner, I work as a senior associate at Dentons where I advise corporate clients on their privacy. I am also a Data Privacy Officer at the Legal & Regulatory division of Wolters Kluwer (where I manage global wide privacy champions and DPOs). Previously, I worked as a global Privacy Manager at Dentons Global where I developed my knowledge and strengths.
I love my role as a privacy lawyer — no matter how bad the day might be, there is always something interesting around: a new data leak, hacker attack, some employment related questions, or new software which uses personal data and you need to help to figure out how to make the settings correct. I also love the fact I meet a lot of people with a lot of different points of view, which makes you see many different perspectives.
During my job, I have seen in many companies where employees share internal data externally, without actually knowing whether they are allowed or not, and what the consequences could be of losing that data. Privacy awareness is still not on the level I wish it was, and that’s what I am trying to do – educate people, teach them about privacy, and show the best practices. Being a lawyer and working with other lawyers, it’s easy to note that lawyers and compliance officers are still stuck in basic Microsoft Word and Excel and there have not been many advancements when it comes to data protection compliance. Technology automation can save a lot of time and money if such people could use a handy SaaS Software instead.That is where we hope, at Privacy Optimization, we can make a mark with our solution, Data Breach Management Tool. We are a perfect bridge between the software industry, users and lawyers to make this data protection regulation work in software and make every stakeholder happy.
How did you get to where you are today?
Thanks to the persistence and following my dream. I always tried to stay in an international environment by going for student exchange programmes, helping foreign students at my university etc. After finishing my masters degree in Poland, I moved to Brussels to complete an LLM degree where I focused on privacy law, and continued that through a European Commission internship, where I was actually present when GDPR was drafted. Those experiences really confirmed that I wanted to make privacy law my career. I had an amazing professor, and an even greater boss at the EC who inspired me.
When I was applying for a privacy job at law firms, nobody was taking it seriously. It was 2013-2014 and it was hard to find any kind of job. Everybody was saying I am crazy leaving corporate and tax law, where the money is, for something so unrecognized as privacy law. But I followed what I wanted and I don’t regret it at all. I like to be independent – when people tell me one thing I don’t always listen. It wasn’t that hard to ignore them actually.
Now I am leading global privacy teams in large enterprises and started my own Regtech startup focused on privacy processes. I very often receive calls from recruiters with some offers to cover regional or global privacy positions. Looking back, I couldn’t be more glad that I pursued my own path focusing on privacy! And I hope there is still a lot to come:)
What advice would you give to anyone pursuing a similar path?
Be persistent, do something you are passionate about and never give up. Be open to speaking with people, listen to them, don’t be afraid to ask and confront their ideas. Be enthusiastic – I think if you love your job that much, it can really give you joy and energy.