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The Privacy Advisor | Member Spotlight: A conversation with Abhishek Tiwari Related reading: Member Spotlight: A conversation with Marcin Czarnecki

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KPMG Digital Consulting Manager Abhishek Tiwari, CIPP/E, CIPM, FIP, has always sought to use his professional skills to make a difference in his community. His work entails advising his firm’s clients on how to implement a privacy regime into their business practices to comply with evolving regulations.

Tiwari co-chairs Banglore, India’s KnowledgeNet Chapter. He was named the first-ever winner of IAPP’s Asia region Vanguard Award in 2022.

In this Member Spotlight, Tiwari, also based in Banglore, spoke with IAPP Staff Writer Alex LaCasse to discuss his work advising KPMG clients on data governance and privacy. He examined some of the common challenges his clients face, and how he has used his skills as a seasoned privacy pro to bring others into the field. 

Editor's note: This conversation has been edited for clarity and length.

The Privacy Advisor: Let’s start with your background. What brought you to privacy and what interests you most about the field?

Tiwari: My career kickstarted in 2009. I used to be a network engineer and (took) care of medical software. After one or two years, I switched to the server-side, where I managed the messaging service. While I worked with that account, external auditors would come down and ask so many questions. They asked for documents used for assessments. One day I reached out to my boss, let him know I was fascinated with working on information security and asked if I could assist him as a background participant to develop my skills. This is how my journey as an information security guy started.

And then, in 2017, India’s Supreme Court declared privacy a fundamental right and it would go into effect the following year. If companies didn’t follow the (law), we would be hit with so many fines. I was one of the first people from my company to get into this field (and) I've never looked back.

The Privacy Advisor: You currently work as a manager of KPMG India’s Digital Trust Team. Can you talk about your day-to-day responsibilities?

Tiwari: My day-to-day work revolves around assisting our clients. Since I’m in a client-facing industry, I handle three or four accounts and I work jointly with a client team to cater to their privacy work, so wherever they are in their digital transformation journey, we assist them in setting up privacy governance. We also assist them in taking care of the day-to-day privacy job (which entails) taking care of assessment and reviews. Apart from that, I also take care of my team, and they know if they have doubts or concerns that they can always reach out to me.

The Privacy Advisor: Are there common threads to the privacy concerns your clients have, or are they more specific depending on who the client is?

Tiwari: One topic many clients come to us with is the general lack of awareness about privacy regulations. The majority of the time, people do not keep up to date with regulations and privacy updates. So, we help them by offering (educational) awareness sessions and we send awareness emails to them, so they know we are reaching out to educate them about (regulatory) privacy developments. 

The Privacy Advisor: Your corporate responsibility project for Capgemini Technology Services was selected for the Hall of Fame in Global Community Engagement Awards in 2015-2016, and you were named as Ernst & Young’s Social Media Champion of 2020. Can you discuss how these recognitions came about?

Tiwari: So, apart from my regular work, I've been enthusiastic about giving back to society since I was in school. When I joined Capgemini Technology Services, I acted as a corporate social responsibility lead for the Mumbai region. I was fortunate enough to get two awards. There's a changemaker award in the field, and I also received two global community engagement awards.

When I started at EY in Bangalore, they did not have anyone who took care of corporate social responsibility. This is how I got involved with CSR and I used to (manage) the social media channels. I used to tell our employees about the great work we were doing in the community and around the world. I always wanted to encourage my colleagues and recruit more of them to help tell our story. When I started my voluntary CSR team, there wasn’t a lot of interest, but by the time I left after eight years, there were more than 250 people across India doing CSR.

The Privacy Advisor: It sounds like you’ve prioritized making a social impact both through your work and through your personal desire to give back to your community?

Tiwari: The main thing my (former) boss told me is that we need to raise awareness about privacy. Now that I'm in the privacy field, I’ve tried to follow his example, and it has really helped me out. Because we usually keep the knowledge we gain to ourselves, sometimes intentionally and sometimes not. But if you do not share this knowledge with people, you’re not bringing others along with you. So, raising awareness, whether it be a social media, whether it is CSR, privacy, these are the reasons I go to the KnowledgeNet — to share what I know with others and so I can learn from them. The chapter is well-known in India now because of our dedication.

The Privacy Advisor: You were a judge for the IAPP Innovation Awards last year. What were the criteria you judged the projects on?

Tiwari: I can say (being a judge for the Innovation Awards) was a new experience for me. I was used to being the person who submitted projects for professional competitions, but it was a first for me to be on the other side and judge the proposals. So, my major focus during the review was to identify the solution they were offering and if it was unique. I wanted to see that whatever solution they are offering is not limited to their area or region but would be global in nature. The type of (innovation) they offered should have demonstrated an understanding of their duty towards society and they process the data.

The Privacy Advisor: You won the IAPP’s first-ever Asia Vanguard Award this year as the awards were expanded to acknowledge privacy pros across five major regions of the world. What does this recognition mean to you?

Tiwari: For a while, I've almost felt like a celebrity. I was totally surprised when the announcement was made, and it was kind of the "Yeah!" moment of my career. I'm short of words to describe it, but the feeling is awesome, and I'm thankful I was recognized. While this award has given me a professional boost, it has motivated me not to stop here in my career as a privacy professional. 

Photo by Keagan Henman on Unsplash


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