Paperclip Career Advice

Some advice is just too good not to share. This is a piece of mind blowing advice from Rhonda MacLean who is currently the Director of Security for Barclays Bank. (See She kicks butt on any continent. It has nothing to do with the substance of privacy but everything to do with survival in an amorphous professional career path in a brand new or undefined field.

I call it paper clip advice because once you see it, you may be tempted to think that it's obvious or so ubiquitous that it does not bear repeating. I wish I had invented the paper clip.

Here it is (& I quote): "Be the CEO of your own career."

That's what she said.

I've been thinking about this since she said it at the Executive Women's Forum last Fall. (This is a group that merits some discussion in another post-- it's for folks in the privacy, data management, security, risk, and compliance functions & I have found it to be a must do for my calendar.)

Since that time I have been taking stock- so to speak- of my stakeholders (both professionally & personally), my assets and liabilities, my unique characteristics that make my own personal enterprise valuable or able to trigger value in others. I have started to document things to honestly report to my stakeholders progress and areas where I need more assistance. I've started to think about overall goals, quarterly, annually, overall.

You get the picture. Run your career as carefully and in some ways objectively as you would run a company.

Has my stock risen? Perhaps only in my own reckoning so far, but the exercise in taking a hard look at what is & what can be and where my team needs to go to get our objectives met has been as useful in holding a complex challenge neatly in a consumable package as, well, the humble paper clip. Elegant, tidy and perfectly engineered.

Thank you Rhonda. You are an inspiration.


Just this week I read similar advice from Marc Andreesen (Netscape founder). He writes that there is no such thing as career planning, rather he recommends one simply enhance skills and pursue opportunities as they arise...

And in terms of taking stock of my own stakeholders, I believe we need occasional reminders of what we have, and thus wrote earlier this month:

Posted by Jonathan G on February 01, 2008 at 05:17 AM PST #

Hi Michelle,
Beth and I very much love to read your thoughts, ideas, and comments on just living life and all of the little twists and turns out there to entertain us. I have this indelible image of your little "thang" spinning on her heels and going up to her room to, well, play a little with her toys.
The thing I wanted most to comment on besides your great writing skills is that I appreciate your healthy perspective. The common theme that threads its' way through all of your comments is empowerment. Taking command of your decisions, taking stock of your value, and being ultimately responsible for yourself.
As it regards privacy and safeguarding ones personal information, we absolutely have to let go and "get over it" when it comes to paraniod reactions to all of those greedy data aggregators out there just salivating to sell your stuff as often as possible. But what we shouldn't do is resign ourselves to the status quo of being in a reactionary stance when we find out our data has been lost or stolen from a department store, or university, or as was reported yesterday, a blood bank. This list goes on and on. As a privacy professional you take your work seriously. Surely you recognize that you are in the vast minority. And lets face it privacy pros aren't the ones losing the stuff. Its cleaning crews, beaurocrats, data entry clerks, payroll folks, all the ones handling information on a daily basis that need the training we so very much believe in.
As Scott McNealy (remember him?) said there are a lot of folks out there selling us security when in fact there isn't much behind the curtains to back it up. Doesn't it then stand to reason that if there is a service that it just makes sense to take advantage of it? We recently had dinner with Jim McCartney of BearingPoint. Jim is someone who has his finger on the reality of the ID theft services out there. He said that "Hands down our ID Theft Shield is by far the most effective service in exsistance." That sentiment is shared by Michael McCoy, the ID theft researcher and lecturer from the Univ. of Iowa. As ID theft and data loss continues nearly unabated in spite of legislation and oh-so-clever software "solutions" we should be cognizant of one irrefutable truth. While nothing is, or can be perfect, our Identity Theft Shield is the best way to empower ourselves when ID theft happens regardless of the source or type of theft, be it character or criminal, drivers licence fraud, employment, medical insurance fraud, or even credit card or bank fraud. With Kroll Fraud Solutions covering our back we can think about our information security on the way up the stairs and then just play with our toys.

Posted by John Taylor on February 14, 2008 at 02:25 AM PST #

Great stuff John! I like the Identity Shield service as well & I am looking forward to learning more about Kroll. More time for toys all around.

Posted by Me on February 14, 2008 at 03:12 AM PST #

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