Image of Director of Data Estate, Naureen Hussain standing on a balcony in the Virgin Media O2 office with the logo in the background on a sunny dayImage of Director of Data Estate, Naureen Hussain standing on a balcony in the Virgin Media O2 office with the logo in the background on a sunny day

Digital

Unlocking the value of our data

Naureen Hussain

Director of Data Estate

August 8, 2022

How much is our data worth, and how do we unlock its full potential?

That’s the challenge that Naureen Hussain, our Director of Data Estate at Virgin Media O2 and her team are working to solve. We catch up with Naureen about her career journey from employment lawyer to in-house data privacy expert, her mission to change the way the company views data and how her love of learning and being “in the stretch zone” led her to where she is today.

Tell us how your career journey began at Virgin Media O2?

About 8 years ago, I left a well-trodden career path as an employment lawyer in a law firm, after realising I was craving a fresh challenge. So, I took a massive leap of faith and went in-house. I never looked back.

I transitioned to privacy whilst at Huawei. I was the person putting my hand up for everything. That soon turned into people coming to me and asking me for advice on privacy. The more I leaned into it, the more people came to me. They saw me as a privacy expert.

 I joined Virgin Media O2 a few years ago, as the Data Protection Officer before taking up my current role as Director of Data Estate — another move that brought me back to the early steep phase of the learning curve.

How did you find this career transition?

One of the things I found the most intimidating when I started in my current role was all the other leaders on our team. They’re amazing. I felt like I was the only person who was doing something they’d never done before.

That could have held me back. However, I switched my mindset very early on to what an amazing opportunity it was to learn from lots of inspiring experts.

I’ve learnt that I like to be in the stretch zone, to be challenged and learning. That’s my ideal place to operate.

What are your team’s priorities?

We’re building game-changing data governance and privacy capability at Virgin Media O2. Our vision is to move the organisation towards treating data as a strategic asset, ensuring we always do right by our customers.

Ultimately, it’s all about enhancing the useability of our data. This involves getting more of it into the hands of our analysts and data scientists, improving data quality and optimising consent and permissions, always lawfully and ethically.

We’re shifting the way that VMO2 views, and values data.

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What’s innovative about the way we’re working?

We’ve got such bold, big ambitions. We want to achieve so much and we’re doing it in a way that’s innovative, creative, and different. It’s really exciting.

We’re moving away from the traditional approach toward data governance and privacy management, which emphasises policies and human-based approvals. Instead, we’re moving towards automated data governance and privacy eco-system.

We’re designing a metaphorical filtration system – protecting and enabling data as it flows through the organisation, delivering trust and privacy by design.

As a team, we recognise we’re diverse in lots of ways, however, none of us are digital natives and we’re all on a learning journey together. We’re now delivering privacy and data governance in a digital way, with product owners taking end-to-end accountability. We’re developing prototypes and MVPs, failing fast and iterating as we go. Seeing my team develop and grow while having fun along the way is the best part of my job.

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