For the first time, a privacy officer will be the chair of a major European trade body.
The Federation of European Direct and Interactive Marketing (FEDMA) has announced Sachiko Scheuing’s appointment to co-chair. Scheuing, CIPP/E, European privacy officer at Acxiom, was elected to the post alongside Director General of the Dutch Marketing Association Diana Janssen. The two will serve a three-year term in an effort to further FEDMA’s pursuit of helping the marketing industry to use data in an ethical way and to ensure that both consumers’ and marketing organizations’ needs are met.
“I have to admit, I was really baffled,” Scheuing said of her reaction when Janssen asked her to run for the position. “The type of people who are chairing organizations are director generals or CEOs and a completely different caliber.”
But FEDMA held a vote, and Scheuing said the fact that she and Janssen—who ran on a platform of putting data protection and privacy at the heart of FEDMA’s public relations and education efforts—were voted in over an unnamed “highly respected” industry leader “by itself tells the story” that the marketing profession is buying into privacy.
“I’m not a policy person, but this is the extent that Europe and also the world is reaching out for privacy experts, and I think a very welcoming sign” Scheuing said, adding the marketing industry is putting more emphasis on privacy than any other trade, understanding its pivotal role in consumer trust and, therefore, profits.
Scheuing is a 15-year veteran of Acxiom, where she started as their chief analyst until Chief Privacy Officer Jennifer Barrett Glasgow, CIPP/US, tapped her for a position on the privacy team because of her ability to holistically understand data flows and manipulations. Scheuing initially had her doubts about whether she could do the job; after all, she’s not a lawyer like so many of the privacy professionals she knew at the time.
But that’s where Scheuing’s background as a statistics guru gives her a leg up. She understands statistical analysis and can explain it to the people who need to know.
“When people are talking in terms of the big picture, I just say, ‘Let me see how you program it,’” she said, which allows her to understand where the data’s coming from, who’s touching it and how it’s being used.
After a few crash courses and some initial work in privacy, she realized something that shapes her viewpoint of the field to date, and it helped to define her role: “Privacy is all about understanding the data and communicating what you understood. It’s about getting down on your knees and pulling up your sleeves and finding out what data is coming in, who actually gets to touch the data and analyzing what comes out of it.”
And it’s the skill of communicating that message that industry so desperately needs to thrive. It’s the “lifeline of the industry,” Scheuing said.
Sometimes it comes down to picking up the phone or sitting down with decision-makers and explaining the privacy perspective in real nuts-and-bolts human terms. At the end of the day, people are people, and they’re the subject of marketing, too. Scheuing sometimes asks them, would they be comfortable being treated that way?
“Our industry is still seen as a black box,” she said. “It seems like the marketing industry has not really been a great communicator of going out there and explaining what we’re doing,” she said. “I think one of the most important things I would like to accomplish is to provide more transparency not only to consumers but also to other stakeholders like the policy-makers, the commission, the data protection authorities.”
Our industry is still seen as a black box,” she said. “It seems like the marketing industry has not really been a great communicator of going out there and explaining what we’re doing,” she said. “I think one of the most important things I would like to accomplish is to provide more transparency not only to consumers but also to other stakeholders like the policy-makers, the commission, the data protection authorities.
Sachiko Scheuing, newly elected co-chair of FEDMA
That’s where Scheuing plans to use the experience she’s gained as FEDMA’s vice president of legal affairs, a post she’s held for some time now. She’ll have an opportunity to sit across the table from policy-makers—European commissioners and parliamentarians, among others—in an effort to help shape policies that are both consumer and industry friendly.
Scheuing also hopes to continue efforts to establish codes of conduct, such as the European Code of Practice for the Use of Personal Data in Direct Marketing, promulgated by FEDMA and later adopted by the European Commission.
“FEDMA is an organization that can come up with these things,” such as a foolproof compliance tool for any company, FEDMA member or not.
Looking ahead, Scheuing—who is Japanese, lives in Europe and speaks fluent English, Japanese, Dutch and German—is excited for the global opportunities the privacy profession continues to afford her and the connections it’s helped her make. We’re not so different from one another, she’s found.
“Coming from a completely different culture, I find it really interested that there’s this divide between the U.S. and Europe or this thought that the way we think about privacy is very different in Asia compared to Europe. But from my experience and also through the many opportunities the IAPP has provided me through its conferences, I feel privacy professionals are all having one goal,” she said. “And that is to improve the world in such a way that our children and our great grandchildren will be able to have a good level of protection of privacy. It’s really exciting.”
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