'GDPR is about the rights of the consumer - and that's how it should be'

New regulations will actually help businesses become more efficient, says leading data protection officer

29th June, 2017
Group Data Protection Officer for Aviva Ireland, Brian O'Connor

What's your name?

Brian O’Connor

What position do you hold?

Group Data Protection Officer for Aviva Ireland

How long have you held the position?

Having been with Aviva for over 35 years, I moved to data protection in 2014 from an operations role, as part of Aviva’s strategic commitment to move our business to a customer-centric digital focus.

What are your day-to-day responsibilities?

I support our Life and General insurance businesses in finding the best ways to protect and use the data entrusted to us by our customers to respond to their needs. I also interact with the regulator and special interest groups to make sure Aviva is at the forefront of best practice in our use of data.

Within Aviva, I also help my colleagues understand the importance of data protection and support them with knowledge and training. I make sure they are equipped with the tools and skills needed to adhere to the regulations to protect our business and our customers.

What is your professional background?

I have been in the insurance industry for 38 years supporting customers in various roles from Claims to Underwriting to general operations management in General, Life and Health insurance. Through all the change I have observed over those years, one constant theme has been how important it is that we, as insurance professionals, treat our customer data as the most important asset we have. Our customers trust us with all sorts of personal and sensitive data. Our primary responsibility must be to protect that data and use it efficiently in the best interests of our customers when they need to interact with us.

Tell me about yourself away from work?

I am married with one teenage daughter, so my life away from work is well managed! I like walking and travelling to old historic places to experience in person what I’ve read about in the many history books on my shelves.

Tell us something very few people know about you?

That’s a hard one. I'm an open book who chats to anyone and everyone, there’s very little people don’t know about me. I did win a medal for the under 11 three-legged race in school - the first and last race I’ll ever win.

You are speaking at our GDPR Summit in September. What are you speaking about?

I’m speaking about one of the main practical implications for business - the need to conduct privacy impact assessments. This is where the rubber hits the road for this regulation, as all of us in business will be required to assess what we do with customer data, understand the risks and plan to defend against them.

What challenges do you see for organisations implementing the new regulations?

The regulation is focussed on the rights of the consumer and that is how it should be. It forces businesses to be both transparent and accountable. For some traditional businesses, it may take some effort to fully understand all the data they have and what they do with it. However, once the effort is made, they will see that the disciplines imposed by the regulation will actually help their businesses be more efficient

Group Data Protection Officer for Aviva Ireland Brian O'Connor will be speaking at the GDPR Summit on Tuesday, September 12 at Croke Park, Dublin. Make sure your business is ready for this important legislation with GDPR17.com.

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