Sachin Kothari, CIPP/US, director of online privacy and compliance for a leading telecommunications company has been involved with the IAPP since its early beginnings about a decade ago and has a long list of contributions to the organization to prove it. Not only has Kothari been a member of the IAPP's Education Advisory Board for more than five years, hosted KnowledgeNet and Privacy After Hours events, and spoken at numerous conferences but he is currently a member of the Training Advisory Board. The Privacy Advisor recently caught up with Kothari to hear just how he views privacy in his job and to hear why volunteering with the IAPP is important to him.
The Privacy Advisor: What do you do, and how does it touch on privacy and security?
Kothari: I lead a team of 10 seasoned privacy practitioners in a telecom company. We are responsible for overseeing and consulting on the company’s privacy practices within the digital space, which can include everything from advising on marketing and advertising practices to counseling our company on how to meet its compliance obligations through our privacy by design framework. We work hand-in-hand with our security counterparts to consult on items such as cyber security, authentication, fraud prevention and vendor data-sharing practices.
The Privacy Advisor: What got you into privacy in the first place?
Kothari: Fifteen years ago, I was asked to provide program management support to our public policy teams who sought to better integrate and streamline our regional online privacy policies. At this time, I looked at our practice data-use cases and ended up structuring the multiple frameworks behind the policies. I’ve been hooked on privacy ever since.
The Privacy Advisor: The privacy and security field is constantly changing. How do you stay sharp amidst all that flux?
Kothari: Privacy is a dynamic environment, for sure, and part of my job is to stay on top of where privacy, technology and regulations are headed. To do this, I try to learn as much as I can through regular dialogue and collaboration with my security counterparts and by attending and learning from conferences such as DefCon. It is imperative to stay engaged and stay connected with other internal and external privacy and security experts, as the technology and the regulatory environment will never stop evolving.
The Privacy Advisor: What’s your favorite element of your job?
Kothari: Without question, my favorite part of my job is the ability to make a difference. I teach my team to always try to be enablers. It’s easy to identify privacy challenges that need to be addressed, but it takes a privacy leader to balance the legitimate needs of the business against compliance requirements. Privacy done right should enhance business as it engenders trust and creates value. That said, accomplishing this can, at times, be challenging because there are areas of new technology where there’s minimal data structure and regulations are consistently shifting.
The Privacy Advisor: What would you say to encourage privacy pros to volunteer with the IAPP?
Kothari: If you’re passionate about privacy, start soon as you can. Building a relationship with the IAPP and your fellow privacy professionals is extremely fulfilling and addicting. Your contributions will help you become a well-rounded privacy professional and is bound to lead to the development of an increasingly valuable privacy network for you.
The Privacy Advisor: What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
Kothari: My wife and I love to travel around the world with our two amazing kids, an 8-year-old girl and a 5-year-old boy. My favorite way to spend some down time is playing tennis with the family every Sunday. I also enjoy caring for my mixed-reef tanks. The hobby really keeps my chemist abilities in check.
The Privacy Advisor: What's the best professional advice you've ever received?
Kothari: I received two important bits of advice, and now preach and practice them. First, be passionate, don’t settle. If you’re driven and happy doing what you love, success will ultimately follow. Second, put yourself in the customer’s shoes and lead by example on how you expect to be treated. These two principles have been the bedrock of my privacy career.
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