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The Privacy Advisor | Volunteer Spotlight: Catching up with Nerushka Deosaran Related reading: New legal opinion may have implications for class actions in EU

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Nerushka Deosaran is a senior associate and business development manager at Norton Ruse Fulbright in South Africa, and has been an IAPP member since 2012. The Privacy Advisor caught up with her to talk a little about privacy pro, and a little about, well, some pretty random stuff.

The Privacy Advisor: What was your privacy/data protection “a-ha!” moment? If there wasn’t one, what was it about the field that captured your interest and attention?
Deosaran: Privacy is full of grey areas. That’s why there’s always a bit of creativity and "thinking outside the box" required. 

The Privacy Advisor: What element of your job makes you the most excited to get out of bed in the morning? 
Deosaran: The legal profession is currently in a state of disruption. Being part of the change and thinking up new ways of delivering legal services keeps things exciting. For example, we have just developed “POPI Counsel,” an online interactive product with logic based tools to assist companies comply with South Africa’s new data privacy legislation. Being able to shake things up and do things differently in such a traditional profession is enough to get me out of bed − and I’m not a morning person!

The Privacy Advisor: How did you hear about the IAPP? 
Deosaran: I spent some time working with global data privacy experts at Norton Rose Fulbright’s London office to gain some hands-on privacy experience; I did the same in Melbourne. While in London, I attended an IAPP event with a colleague to meet some clients and then joined the firm’s global membership.

The Privacy Advisor: What parts of the organization are you a part of, and what drew you to that particular area?
Deosaran: I am a co-chair of the IAPP’s Johannesburg KnowledgeNet since the start of 2016. We have just hosted our first event − #HackPrivacy − which was a success! At Norton Rose Fulbright, I have a dual role as a Business Development Manager for Technology & Innovation which includes planning events and campaigns. So, being a co-chair and putting together events and getting to meet like-minded individuals (read: other privacy nerds!) was definitely attractive.

The Privacy Advisor: Describe yourself in three words.
Deosaran: INTJ.  Innovator.  Wife. (I guess I cheated because you can search my INTJ personality profile and read many more that describe me…)

The Privacy Advisor: Would you rather have all your personally-identifiable information hacked and shared in the Dark Web, or find out that a top-secret governmental society was surveilling you? 
Deosaran:Wouldn’t it be cool to know that you were important enough for government to spend resources to spy on you? Or perhaps dangerous enough? 

The Privacy Advisor: If you could fix one problem in the privacy/data protection landscape with a magical wand, what would that be and why?
Deosaran: The business mindset – privacy should be seen as a business enabler, not as a burden and compliance cost. 

The Privacy Advisor: What’s a skill you wish you had?
Deosaran: Programming. Although, I am dabbling. I’ve completed a basic HTML course on Codecademy – although the real developers will say that doesn’t count as programming. I’ve also started a global initiative at Norton Rose Fulbright to try teach lawyers to build their own applications. At the moment, we are training lawyers to develop on a logic based platform for “non-developers." So, although I can already do that – investing some time in gaining some hardcore programming skills would also be cool.

The Privacy Advisor: When you’re not saving the world with your privacy and data protection skills, what do you like to do for fun?
Deosaran: Aerial arts.

The Privacy Advisor: What did you study in school, and what attracted you to that particular discipline? 
Deosaran: I started off studying actuarial science, then changed to computational and applied mathematics, [as] I had always done well at maths and physics. I didn’t complete either degree, changed universities twice, and somehow ended up with a law degree at the end of my studies. I didn’t find law — law found me. What attracted me, or rather what allowed me to get to the end of the LLB degree, was that I couldn’t end up "pegged" in one industry as the law spans across all industries and disciplines. I ended up specializing in technology and privacy because of the fast pace of change in tech and the incredibly interesting industry. Over the last year, I have also taken up a dual role as business development manager for tech and innovation which uses my creative side and keeps me challenged and engaged.

The Privacy Advisor: What professional endeavor are you the most proud of?
Deosaran: Being actively engaged in the firm’s strategy to innovate the delivery of legal services through use of technology. 

The Privacy Advisor: If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, may it pertain to your career, personal life, etc., what would it be? 
Deosaran: Probably nothing. [It] doesn’t mean I haven’t made mistakes or didn’t need advice – but I think I would not be who I am today without them, so [I] would probably not say anything that would change the way things have turned out.

The Privacy Advisor: What’s one crazy thing off your “bucket list” that you’d like to do before you die? 
Deosaran: Watch a volcano erupt. This has been a life time dream; I remember writing school essays about this decades ago.  Obviously from a safe distance – this is not a suicide mission.

The Privacy Advisor: BONUS! What’s something on your immediate to-do list that you’re the most excited about?
Deosaran: Get married this weekend! Go on honeymoon! 
 

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