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Specialist Spotlight, November: Emma Godfree, Data Protection and Information Governance

“Every day is a different challenge. The scope for knowledge is all-encompassing.”

Meet Emma, a Data Protection Consultant at iSTORM who is currently completing her Data Protection and Information Governance apprenticeship with The Specialists Hub and is a finalist of the Picasso Privacy Award 2022. Emma has shared her Data Protection journey so far with us, including highs, lows, and everything in between.

About Emma

I have a strong interest in GDPR and have been privileged to work in positions where this interest is key. I have also been able to develop this interest by assisting with Subject Access Requests in my currently employment. I am also completing the CIPP/E and hope to go on to complete further qualification within this sector. I have developed excellent organisational skills and am a flexible and efficient member of any team, I am always willing to learn and do not shy away from challenge.


Emma Godfree (IG and DP Apprentice, Data Protection Consultant)

I can see that the Data Protection and Information Governance industry is fairly new to you. What was it that drew you to DP & IG?

I’ve always had an interest in Data Protection and Information Governance. It was only when a Data Protection Officer took the time to train me in DSARs that my interest really took off. I knew from the moment I started to deal with my very first DSAR, that I wanted more. People call that “love at first DSAR” which I think is about right!

Protecting information has always been a part of my life. My father and mother were in the armed forces, which meant that my information was always protected to a certain extent. I have been a foster carer, an appropriate adult for the Norfolk and Suffolk Police Service, as well as a host parent to students from other countries; I'm used to keeping information safe in some capacity or another. Data protection, when I finally began to learn more about it, almost felt like home. Familiar in all the best ways.

Were there any transferable skills that you carried over from your experience in Customer Relations, or was it a whole new world?

There are many transferable skills from my time in customer service and complaints. Coming from nowhere, into the industry, gave me a very good idea as to what kind of information the ‘average person wants. They don’t need long, arduous policies, no one has time for that. They need clear and user-friendly advice and information.

The years in customer service never leave you. I find, when talking to clients (many of whom just want a data protection friend) I can be friendly and natural. My audits and my analysis of data breaches are normally more like a conversation over coffee. It puts people at ease almost instantly and makes it so much easier for us both. I am constantly nervous, and the client needs to know that something is fixable. By having an easy, friendly conversation, we both get what we need: reassurance.

What does a day in the life of a Data Protection Consultant at iSTORM look like for you?

Every day is different. One day I could be writing a policy, the next I’m completing an audit. I have been involved in implementation, training, audits, gap analysis, breach management, and DSARS; every day is a different challenge. The scope for knowledge is all-encompassing.

It helps that the range of industries we work with is so diverse, you’re constantly dealing with different styles of requirements. Some may want something corporate and sharp; others may want more of a data protection friend. But they all want someone to support their growth and understanding. It also helps that I work with an amazing team of people, not just in the DP Team but the company as a whole. It reduces stress and gives me the space to make mistakes. Something essential for improvement. With the start of the apprenticeship, this has gone into overdrive, and I find that no matter what I learn today, tomorrow is guaranteed to be different.

Why did you decide to undertake a DP and IG apprenticeship?

I always like to have a bit of structure, especially with learning. It makes it so much easier to identify the gaps in my knowledge so I can concentrate on filling them. I’m a visual learner for the most part, so having a checklist and a pathway to follow is perfect for me. Being part of the apprenticeship means we, as a cohort can share our collective experiences and our knowledge in a safe space. We can develop and nurture the relationships and support network we all need. We all have so much to bring to the table and it’s exciting to see the expertise being shared already.

Can you tell us a bit about your apprentice journey/experience so far? Any stand-out highlights?

It's hard work, I'm not going to lie. I have found it tough to manage my time, to fit all the things in that I want to do outside of my learning. There’s so much I want to do as a result of the apprenticeship, but I’m learning to take one moment at a time.

I think it’s an added responsibility for us all as the first cohort to do the best we can. If not for ourselves, then for all of those who will follow us. The classes have been excellent, with some truly talented and knowledgeable teachers. Everyone involved is supportive and encouraging. They all want us to do our very best, to be the best IG & DP Practitioners we can be. I can’t speak for everyone but for me, everything we do is a new challenge. Which means a lot of my time is spent with a ‘deer in headlights look on my face. But I'm told that will change with the wind!

What are the key ways in which your apprenticeship has helped forward your DP & IG journey?

My confidence has grown substantially since starting the apprenticeship. I feel more comfortable speaking up in class and professional conversations. My work has improved both in the quality and depth of analysis, and my ability to take on new projects has also increased. This means that I can now support my colleagues more than I could a couple of months ago. Less stress for them, bonus!

But aside from that, I'm now accepted by my fellow professionals. They all want to know about the journey, they all want to know what benefit it has had and they have all seen the growth it can create. It means that the results speak for themselves, and it may help others consider it for their staff – which I would encourage.


Huge congratulations from us for your PICASSO Privacy award nomination. It’s no small feat being labelled a Rising Star! Would you like to tell us a bit about the award and what it means to you?

It’s so hard to put this into words but I’ll try my best.

Firstly, the other people on the shortlist are spectacular individuals. Some of them I know quite well, and I cannot wait to celebrate with them regardless of who wins. For me, being shortlisted is surreal. It has been a long and tough two years encompassing a lot of hard work. I am the first to admit how lucky I am to have such an amazing network of professionals willing to give me their time and knowledge, but I do forget just how much work I put in. Which my mother moans about constantly! But being recognised for the hard work, the long hours, the tears, the stress, the worry and confusion, the panic; it all concludes with the same outcome. Sudden flashbacks! Then the realisation that I’m here, I'm doing a job I love with people I greatly admire. What more could a girl want?

Without sounding too corny, being short-listed for the award shows others what their support has accomplished. Whilst the hard work was mine, I would not have gotten anywhere without their help and encouragement. I owe my connections, and my friends, a massive debt of gratitude.

Any tips for those wanting to get into the DP & IG industry, or for those considering an apprenticeship?

Build your network. Having people there willing to give their time to teach you something is invaluable. Especially when you are starting out, or if you’re a team of one. Reach out, even if it is to the wider community, we’re all here for each other. I know that it is easy for me to say this as I now have that support, but I never used to. It took time, honesty, and courage. Be brave, say what you feel, and say if you’re struggling. This industry is like no other I have seen where that is concerned. We’re all here for each other. When discussing the awards, someone made an excellent point – no matter who wins what category, we will all celebrate together. That is something unique to the Data Protection world, and something I believe people can take advantage of. Think outside the box. If you’re struggling to put your learning into practice, don’t be afraid to apply it to something fictional. Choose something you know, something you’re comfortable with and apply your learning to that. It helps and provides a safe environment to mess up. I chose Star Fleet. That was my comfort zone for a long time. I certainly wouldn’t be here without it.

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