< PrevNext > Samantha Simms The Information Collective senior principal & founder Share Simms’ company, launched in October, simplifies privacy and data protection issues for multinational organizations. “We like our preferences to be recorded, but we do not want to feel as though we are being monitored,” she said. “There is a very thin line between helpful and creepy. I advise businesses on how to stay on the helpful side of the line." She spoke with BTN managing editor Amanda Metcalf about her disciplined approach to personal and professional development.How did you come to start your own company?I thought I was going to be this hotshot defamation lawyer. I started working for the Office of Fair Trading. Because my degree was in European Languages, I was able to work on European cases for breaches of consumer laws within the U.K. by European traders, so I was bringing cases in different countries. I moved into local government because we had a new law coming called the Freedom of Information Act and it was much more akin to the areas that I like. I’d been working in data protection slightly at the Office of Fair Trading, and then I was really interested in this access to government information. This all brought me up until 2007. Linklaters, an international law firm [was] building an in-house privacy team, and they took me on. I worked on Binding Corporate Rules, a regulator-approved code of conduct for a company on data protection. I then joined Colt Technology Services, Europe’s largest data center provider, [as] a group data protection officer. I spent two-and-a-half years there in a very male-dominated, aggressive technology environment. It was the first time where I really had to pull up my big-girl socks, first place I’ve ever worked that had two male toilets and only one female. It shaped me up really well to do my own thing.Why did you want to do your own thing?I wanted my own law firm or consultancy because I have a lot to give a large number of businesses. But I knew, I knew I needed a little bit more experience before I was able to do this out the gate by myself, so I went off to CWT. It was very hard work, but I had a great set of female role models. My direct manager is still one of the most fantastic leaders I’ve ever had the benefit of being around, and then the general counsel was extremely supportive. I matured a lot into my position as someone sitting at that higher table, and then I started to build the Information Collective.It’s a huge undertaking. You don’t find it intimidating?I love learning new things like how to market myself and manage the accounts and balance the client relationship against all of the other tasks I have to do and manage those people who support me and how to be my own IT person. I love that. But I love the freedom that I get, as well. I now go to the gym at 6 a.m. because I can manage the rest of my day; that allows me not to be working up until 12 at night. Also, I’ve got a business coach and I’ve got other women, so I know it can be done very well.A business coach is a proactive step.My biggest concern was that there may be things that I don’t know that I don’t know. Having a business coach has helped me to look at myself personally and what I want from my organization and how I want to build that. I’ve always had coaching and mentoring relationships whilst working within organizations, and I perhaps was just looking to have something similar once I was working for myself.Does your plan get into goals for a number of clients?It does, but not just size of practice. It’s more around: What does it allow me to be able to do as an individual? I would like to spend more time working for organizations seeking to protect individuals’ [privacy] rights, so I need an organization that allows me to go off and do that.What do corporations need to have their minds on after the EU’s Global Data Protection Regulation as far as data privacy goes?How often do we hear about companies being burgled versus how often do we hear about them being hacked? If someone is watching you all the time, they are going to get in at some point. We have to expect that will happen, and organizations need support to manage the fallout from a data breach. And any organization operating in the commercial world really does need to think about: How is it going to offer personalized service? If I can’t do something via an app, I start losing faith in the company. Organizations will need support with their digital strategy, in understanding how best to use this large amount of data they now have.