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The Privacy Advisor | Volunteer Spotlight: A conversation with Adam Stone Related reading: Volunteer Spotlight: A conversation with Jyn Schultze-Melling



Adam Stone spends his days in the Twin Cities of the American Midwest. Now principal consultant and chief privacy officer at Secure Digital Solutions, a Minneapolis-based management consultancy, Stone has nearly two decades worth of experience overseeing data privacy and security functions in sectors including health care, finance, insurance and marketing. He's also married with three kids in high school and college, and when he's not busy being a dad, he's reading or volunteering for the IAPP as an advisor to the KnowledgeNet chairs for the Midwest region.   

Adam Stone

Adam Stone

The Privacy Advisor: Do you like what you're doing? Is it worth getting out of bed for? 

Stone: I’m really enjoying it. At this point in my life, consulting is a fantastic career, and it allows me the opportunity to see and be present in many different environments to provide value to many different types of clients with many different business needs. My current role as a consultant really helps fulfill many of my interests and skills both on the creative side, when we have to market our services as we provide information to clients on various elements of privacy and security that are of interest to them. 

And I'm also able to access my analytical side, both in terms of picking apart the intricacies of regulations and laws, as well as interpreting those same regulations and laws for clients in plain English. 

The Privacy Advisor: You've worked in a number of industries. Have you found it easy to transition from one to the next once you've got experience?
Stone: My experience in HIPAA and GLBA regulations is quite strong. But I'm constantly going back through regulations and testing my own knowledge. Being a consultant now, I don't have to start from scratch. I've been around long enough to know where to go for information in areas where perhaps I'm not as familiar. Case in point would be, I started doing business with academia, one of the areas I was only familiar with but not an expert in. But my ramp-up time is very little. That's what clients pay for, is to have someone walk in, especially at a senior consultant level, and pretty much know what's going on. If we don't know, we know exactly where to look. 

The Privacy Advisor: What's the hardest part of your job?
For me, the hardest aspect is to know when to stop, and what I mean by that is I'm engaged in whatever clients I have, and at the end of some of those engagements, I produce a report or a series of reports on how organizations can address what I've observed. There's an inclination among some of us to want to provide everything there is with respect to the guidance and support we put on a piece of paper or verbalize. One of my constant opportunities for improvement is brevity. 

The Privacy Advisor: Why do you volunteer? There's Netflix to be watched ... 
The motivation is twofold. I feed off the welfare of others. I look for opportunities to serve, whether it's professionally or through civic engagement. The go-getter side is a combination of, what's the way I am — I am a very intensely focused and energetic individual that really does everything as best I can to express my value to potential clients, as well as peers. It's also a matter of survival. The reason for the acronyms behind the name is because as a consultant, it's important to have those acronyms. And it signals a certain level of expertise beyond the school of hard knocks, as it were. 


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