Executive Education

What GDPR means for the C-suite’s career

By Jason Starr, CEO of GatedTalent
Executive Education
Published: 27 October 2017

With only a matter of months until the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) come into force, organisations operating within the European Union, as well as those outside that do business with EU citizens, are having to very quickly establish what they need to do to ensure they are working in a compliant way post May 2018.

And while it would be remiss to suggest that all organisations are ill prepared, a new survey of IT decision makers reveals that the overwhelming majority are. The research, conducted by Trend Micro, reveals that most business leaders are not ready with a widespread lack of understanding, a failure to plan effectively, and inept security strategies to blame. Consequently, many organisations are at risk of hefty fines in the weeks and months following May 25th 2018 unless swift action is taken between now and then. And the clock is certainly ticking.

Clearly, then, while the focus for businesses between now and May is going to be around getting their houses in order to ensure that they are storing data and communicating with stakeholders compliantly, one area that appears to have been forgotten in all the furore – but is arguably just as important – is the impact that GDPR will have on the careers of the C-suite. So while business leaders need to prepare their organisations for this new legislation, they must also start considering what GDPR means for them as highly ambitious professionals. And new research suggests that the latter is simply being ignored.

A new survey of over 350 global search firms: Unintended Consequences – Why GDPR could move executive careers into the slow lane around the globe, undertaken by GatedTalent, a GDPR compliance enabler for the search sector, reveals that there is an overwhelming lack of awareness about how GDPR will impact professionals, and that executives could stand to miss out on crucial career moves if they fail to respond to the changes the legislation brings with it. With the research revealing that senior executives typically hear from a search firm at least once a year, and 32% expecting this to happen three to five times, the message is consequently clear. If professionals fail to facilitate their data being stored by search firms, they will simply fall of the radar of recruiters post May 2018 and the doors to many roles will start to swing shut because search firms won’t be able to engage with them. As Dr Bernd Prasuhn of search firm Ward Howell who was interviewed as part of the research says: “If executives want to make it to C-suite level then they have to be on the radar of executive firms, otherwise it just won’t happen”.

So whatever business leaders think about the executive search sector, one thing is for sure, it plays a vital role in the progression of the careers of the C-suite. Consequently, in a post GDPR world it is perhaps more important than ever to forge close relationships with search firms to ensure that they can highlight appropriate career opportunities. And as David Pierce Hallahan of Team Capital, who took part in the research, says this could be very positive indeed for professionals and search firms alike: “GDPR could end up delivering a closer, tighter relationship, based on quality and best practice and lead to executives thinking of us a long-term partner in the same roster and their accountant, lawyer or financial adviser”.

Despite this warning, however, this will only work if professionals take action to engage when contacted by search firms and not rely on the what communication has happened in the past. The information that an individual may have shared with a search firm three or four years ago will clearly no longer apply. As one interviewee who took part in the research said, “Executives will almost need to re-register in databases to ensure they remain on the radar. Otherwise they might well disappear.” The positive news, however, is that while GDPR is being viewed as burdensome by many, it offers ample opportunities for executives to update search firms with their latest information on current role, seniority and aspirations which can only be a good thing if they want to develop their career as effectively as possible. And for busy executives, the fact that search firms are increasingly seeking out data implementation platforms which allow them to manage their data in a complaint manner, should come as welcome news because it will allow them to share information via a private network with trusted recruitment partners and no one else.

So while members of the C-suite might be focusing their efforts on ensuring their companies are ready for the arrival of GDPR, they must also consider what they need to be doing as individuals. Failure to do so will remove them from the radar of the executive search sector and their career prospects could be put in jeopardy.

About the author
Jason Starr is CEO of GatedTalent, the global database of ‘gated talent’, a GDPR compliance enabler for the search sector.