International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality. 

Equality in the field of information management and privacy seems to be a lot better than it used to be, with more and more women entering the industry. However, being a woman working within the field of information management and privacy can still be challenging. So, we wanted to share some insight into the career of our CEO and founder, woman and LGBTQIA+ proud, Jacqueline Stockwell. 

We speak to her about her early career, the challenges she’s faced as well as the people who have helped her on the way. She also shares some really good tips for those thinking about starting a career in this industry as well as some useful resources, people, books and associations to follow for those wanting to immerse themselves further. 

So Jacqueline, please set the scene for us… what’s the landscape like so far for women in this industry?

The industry in the UK I feel is very much male dominated but there are so many amazing women who are working within the industry in senior information management and privacy roles, and fantastic associates that we work with, that are highly respected.

However, recently I have noticed that there seems to be a feeling of fear within the working world in general about women’s success, which is concerning and one to keep a close eye on. We’ve come so far with equality to let things slip now and I encourage everyone we know in this industry, as well as others, to work hard at maintaining what we have and continue to improve gender equality.

Is it hard being a woman in the information management and privacy industry?

In the early days I found it tricky being a woman within this industry. When I first started to build the Leadership Through Data business, I had only been working specifically within this industry for a few years, so I felt some imposter syndrome, particularly when I was outreaching to people on social media and setting up the business. When you’re in this industry, you’re generally in it for a long time so there are some companies and individuals with many years of experience. Generally, the majority of these businesses are male led, so it can feel very daunting being a woman trying to enter this space, particularly where setting up a business is concerned. 

I have on occasions been made to feel that I am a ‘lesser’ because I am not a male which in turn grates at me mentally and I sometimes struggle with the thought of not being good enough. Building relationships with people and companies can be hard to do at the best of times, let alone if you’re a woman trying to edge your way into this industry. 

I have however found great people who are willing and accepting of me and what I’m trying to achieve. They’re knowledgeable individuals who have helped me on my journey and I am forever grateful to them. 

Are there any challenges you’ve faced along the way?

I have faced many business challenges since setting up Leadership Through Data. Starting a business from scratch is a hard thing. I knew nothing about sales, marketing, profit and loss, or how to get customers, branding and leadership. However, I’ve worked hard to improve my knowledge and skills in order to support the business and the people who work with me. 

During the last 5 years of the business being active, my role and challenges have changed dramatically. Creating the brand, researching and designing courses, listening to our audience to find out what they truly want, employing staff as well as family – learning it all has been a rewarding but a challenging experience. 

We’ve expanded to other countries; take payment in different currencies; and I’ve employed and managed employees across time zones. It has been an amazing experience, but super hard and challenging.  

I feel I have pushed myself to the limit, both professionally and personally, to achieve what we have today, but I certainly haven’t done it on my own, it’s been a huge team effort. Our team are key to the success of the business. 

What was your most recent challenge?

As for recent challenges, 2022 was probably my hardest but best year in business. 

The company expanded to North America and during that time it was a key to me that I needed to relinquish some of my operational roles to focus more on strategic direction. I gave up a lot of my control, which was incredibly hard to do, but I knew it was the best thing to do for the business. 

Due to some historical personal trauma, it caused me great anxiety and stress to do this, which affected my mental health. I’m very aware of my mental health and how I’m feeling, so was able to take time to address this in a healthy way. 

The worst of it is out of the way now and things are improving quickly. I’m saying all this as I want people to understand that humans are not machines, and there should be no shame in personal trauma affecting your work life. I think for some people it is hard to admit to their bosses when things aren’t ok, and I want to be able to voice my own struggles to help change this stigma. 

What has been good so far?

I’m pleased at what I’ve achieved within my own self development, and I’m extremely pleased at what my team has been able to achieve under my leadership. 

It just seems crazy that this business was built from an idea that I started to create in a converted garage (with no windows), and is now a fully-fledged, global, information management and privacy training company! It’s the most amazing feeling. 

What do you think you could improve?

For the last 4 years I have been working on the business, but now, this year, I need to improve myself and work on me as a person and on my self-worth. I want to do this in order to achieve my goal of being a great international speaker. I want to educate on the importance of training within the informational management and privacy field, but also on soft skills that help business leaders and managers to grow. 

When you were young, what did you want to be when you were older?

Haha, great question! I wanted to be a lawyer at first, but I struggled with retaining information, reading and writing. As I now know, I’m dyslexic and this would have played a factor in that. 

Where did you start your career?

After school, I began my career working in the hospitality and catering industry and had dreams of wanting to be a wedding planner and own my own business. I went to university to study business management in order to fulfil this goal, and it was here at the age of 21 where I was tested and diagnosed with dyslexia.

It was also at university where I met my future wife.

I graduated university but knew I had to get a job to pay the bills as soon as I left, and luckily (or unluckily some might say) I found a job as a Complaints Manager for the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). It was a tough and mentally draining job, but I moved around the NHS changing my role every 2 years or so, and progressed through the pay bands until I reached the end of my time working as a Information Governance Manager for the NHS, within their Mental Health Trust.

How did you get into information management? Did you fall into it?

I managed the move from a Complaints Manager to an Information Governance Manager when I realised I needed a role change. I began looking into different types of jobs that could utilise the skills I had obtained, but move me out of the subject matter, as it was really getting me down. I found an information governance role that I was able to match my skills to. I’d have to say that getting into information governance was the best role change for me.

Did anyone help steer you/mentor you?

I was very lucky to have a manager who embraced change and made me think outside of the box. They had a unique way of leading myself and others, and I really value everything he did for me. 

I realise now that he was mentoring and coaching me in a much more professional sense than just a job role and function, and I am so grateful for my two years spent working with him in that role. It really helped me to develop my leadership style. 

When did you realise you were good at it/enjoyed it?

The information governance role was a new position in their business, so I very much enjoyed building the role as my own. Looking back now, I realise that I built it like my job was my own business: selling the benefits of IG as a business and marketing to end users, stakeholders working with senior managers and end users. This role gave me great experience.

I did find however a lack of engagement and understanding from others within different functions at company, about the importance of information governance in protecting “our” personal information.

In your early career, what job title did you aspire to become/have?

I wanted to be a CEO and move up the ranks.  

Was there anyone you met along the way that made you doubt yourself or your abilities?

Yes, sad but true, a lot of men belittled me and made me feel worthless. I learnt a lot from these incidents, and how NOT to be a leader. 

Was their anyone who helped you along the way you want to mention? And how did they help?

Debbie Topping, friend and data protection extraordinaire! Thank you for all the amazing help and advice you’ve given me along the way and for all the fabulous training you offer our customers. 

Sue McLauchlan, my fabulous auntie for being Leadership Through Data’s first employee, who helped the business to grow. She’s practically the tree roots of this business.  

Laura Stockwell, my business partner and wife, for always being there for me through the good and bad times. For supporting me and encouraging me, for being an amazing business partner and helping grow the business. To be the first active supporter of the business and for working as hard as I do to make it the success it is today.  

And of course, a huge thank you to all our customers who support our unique training stye and the business in general. 

I would also like to acknowledge a particular person, but not name them. They really helped me along the way, and I would like to take the time to think of them as a person to be thankful to. 

You’ve made some great connections with people over the many years in this industry, who are some of the most influential and inspirational people you’ve met so far?

  • Alyssa Blackburn, Director, Information Management at AvePoint   
  • Cassandra Bisset, Head of Public Sector Qualtrics Australia 
  • Anne Cornish, CEO -Records and Information Management Professionals Australasia (RIMPA) 
  • Sara Fennah, Microsoft 365 Consultant, Trainer, MCT, MVP 
  • Joanne Klein, Advanced Compliance consultant for Microsoft 365, Microsoft 365 MVP, Microsoft Partner 

Do you have any aspirations for the future?

For Leadership Through Data to be the leading internationally recognised brand in Information Management training. 

If you were just starting out your career in this industry, what advice would you give to someone?

  • It’s an industry with many exciting opportunities and one where you will learn a lot.  
  • Be prepared to listen and learn from others and don’t be afraid to have a voice and speak up, your opinion matters.  
  • Join one of the industry associations, network with others, attend conferences and training sessions and expand your knowledge.  
  • Immerse yourself into the industry and take it all in, the people are friendly here. 

What are the best resources for information managers and privacy professionals?

Associations to get involved with 

People to follow on social: 

  • Alyssa Blackburn, Director, Information Management at AvePoint – (LinkedInTwitter) 
  • Rowenna Fielding, Ethics in Data Protection Nerd at Miss IG Geek Ltd. – (LinkedInBlog)
  • Scott Sammons, MNLP, AMIRMS, MBCS, H-FIIM, Freelance Data Protection Specialist & Coach – (LinkedInTwitter)
  • Ralph O’Brien, Global Privacy, Data Protection & Security Advisor | Experienced Advisor, Teacher, Auditor & Consultant – (LinkedInTwitter)

News/Resource websites 

Newsletters to sign up to 

All above associations newsletters 

Events to attend 

  • Microsoft Conference, USA, Las Vegas, 02/05/2023 – 05/05/2023  
  • IRMS Conference, UK, Manchester, 14/05/2023 – 16/05/2023 
  • MER Conference, USA, Chicago, 22/05/2023 – 24/05/2023 
  • IRMS & ARA Ireland Event, Ireland, Dublin, 28/05/2023 – 28/05/2023  
  • Digital Workplace Conference, Australia, Melbourne, 06/06/2023 – 07/06/2023  
  • ARMA Conference, Canada, Toronto, Ontario, 16/07/2023 – 19/07/2023 
  • ARA Conference, Ireland, Belfast, 30/08/2023 – 01/09/2023  
  • RIMPA Conference, Australia, Gold Coast, 03/10/2023 – 06/10/2023  
  • ARMA Conference, USA, Detroit, 08/10/2023 – 11/10/2023 

What do you think the future holds for women in the information management and privacy industry?

In general, and not just for our industry, I would like to see women recognised for their own success because of their hard work and what they have achieved. Woman shouldn’t be punished because they are a victim of their own success, they should be recognised for what they have achieved. There is way too much negative bias around successful women, and this needs to be addressed. 

A bit more about International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day (IWD) has occurred for well over a century, with the first IWD gathering in 1911 supported by over a million people. Today, IWD belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. IWD is not country, group or organization specific. 

#IWD2023 #EmbraceEquity