Ghita Harris-Newton is Chief Privacy Officer and Deputy General Counsel at Quantcast.
With under a month until GDPR’s enforcement, what better time to live a day in the life of a privacy officer. Here’s what Harris-Newton gets up to…
(As ever, remember to check out Econsultancy Jobs if you are looking for a new role yourself)
Econsultancy: How would you describe your job: What do you do?
Ghita Harris-Newton: My job at Quantcast is to contribute to our mission of helping brands grow in the AI-era. A big part of that is ensuring we uphold industry-leading standards when it comes to protecting consumer privacy in all our activity, and safeguarding the data that we receive from our clients and partners. As Quantcast’s chief privacy officer, that’s where I’m focused.
E: Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?
GHN: I’m part of our legal team based in the San Francisco office and reporting to Quantcast’s General Counsel, Michael Blum.
E: What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
GHN: I’m a lawyer with an expertise in privacy and technology; as such I’m heavily involved in policy and industry work. It’s my job to understand the digital advertising ecosystem, especially its privacy laws and regulations.
With GDPR coming into effect in May, Europe is obviously at the forefront for privacy laws right now. I therefore need an international understanding on how different governments, industry bodies and policies work, in additional to my legal training.
E: Tell us about a typical working day…
GHN: Before work starts, I love heading to a morning yoga session. It has an amazing effect of centring me, enabling me to focus and commit to the day. Of course, my growing number of early-morning calls are making this difficult to keep up! But I at least try to get in a few minutes of yoga at home in the morning.
One of the fun things about my job is that every day is different. Recently however, preparation for GDPR takes up the majority of my time. On a typical day, I start early with a conversation with one of our advertising or publishing clients who may not have a strong in-house legal team to provide guidance around the new laws. Everyone is questioning how GDPR will apply to them; it’s my job to be on top of the changes.
From there, I try to meet with a variety of industry groups across the day. Right now I’m very active with the IAB Europe through participating in their GDPR working group. We are directly steering the IAB’s just-launched GDPR Transparency & Consent Framework, something we all see as essential for the digital advertising and publishing industries come May 25th.
I also make sure to touch base with internal teams as well. I’m in charge of a ‘Tiger Team’ of employees across Quantcast who are working on GDPR and privacy challenges. Regular catch ups across the team are essential to stay on top of priorities and ensure we all stay focused at the task at hand.
E: What do you love about your job? What sucks?
GHN: I love the people I work with. We have a great team at Quantcast and I have really enjoyed getting to know my co-workers since I joined in 2016.
Alongside this, it’s a fascinating time to be involved in the privacy sector, especially with personal data being such a hot topic. The space is constantly evolving and it’s interesting to join the dots between new technologies and their legal ramifications; that intersection means I have to stay on my toes and learn new things every day. I find that really exciting.
E: What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
GHN: At Quantcast we establish and communicate ‘Wildly Important Goals’ (WIGs) to make sure we remain focused on the company’s longer term priorities. Combined with that, we have three operating principles as a company: ‘Customers First’, ‘Owning It’, and ‘Velocity’ which are embedded across the way we work as an organisation. Together these make sure we’re all aligned and working toward the same goals while doing it in the right way.
E: What are your favourite tools to help you get the job done?
GHN: I’m a sucker for Slack! It’s very easy to communicate with people quickly and it helps me escape the inbox time-sink. Reading industry news sites and publications is also a very useful tool for me, specifically the IAPP’s website. It has a great daily digest for people invested in privacy in digital advertising, which helps to keep me up to date with wider industry conversations.
E: How did you land the role, and where might you go from here?
GHN: I came to Quantcast from Yahoo! two years ago where I was leading the global privacy team. I had been at Yahoo! for six years and had a wonderful time, but I was interested in coming to a smaller company to develop a robust privacy programme. Working at Quantcast has enabled me to do that.
The world is full of possibilities and currently, I’m happy my position at Quantcast and I’ll be looking stay within the privacy realm long into the future.
E: Is there a particular company you admire for their approach for GDPR?
GHN: I really admire all the companies that have put the industry first and to some extent put their own interests to the side to work together collaboratively to develop the IAB Europe’s industry solution to GDPR. It’s easy to focus on just your own company and it takes great courage to collaborate across your sector to ensure a positive outcome for everybody.