Episode 45

full
Published on:

27th Sep 2022

Uber Driver To Privacy Pro - How I Made It

Is It Possible To Switch Career & Make It As A PrivacyPro, Even Without Any Previous Experience Or A Legal Background?

In this episode, Tahir Choudhury reveals all the details about his transformational life journey on the Privacy Pros Accelerator Programme. Prior to the programme, Tahir spent years working long hours at restaurants and as a taxi driver. Stuck in a cycle, frustrated with where his life was headed, Tahir knew he needed to make a change but didn’t know how or if it was even possible.

Discover how Tahir went from having no experience and no knowledge of data privacy, to landing a managerial role at multinational company and building a meaningful and rewarding career, all within the span of 6 months.

If you’re feeling stuck in your career, this episode is a must-listen. You’ll be inspired by Tahir’s story and motivated to take your own career to the next level. Not just that, you'll know how to get the same results by following the proven 5C formula. 

Hi, my name is Jamal Ahmed and I'd like to invite you to listen to this special episode of the #1 ranked Data Privacy podcast.

Uncover:

  • How to launch your privacy career without any prior experience
  • How to impress hiring managers and be in a position to field multiple high paying offers
  • How to build a credible personal brand using social media

Discover how the 12 week Privacy Pro Accelerator Programme can propel your career to the next level!

Tahir Choudhury, Graduate of the Privacy Pros Academy.

Prior to joining the Academy he had no real knowledge of data privacy. He'd never had a salary-based job, always self-employed. He'd never had a real CV. He'd never Applied for a job and never had a job interview. Following the program, he is now CIPPE certified and has an amazing career as a Data Protection Manager.

If you want to get the same results as Tahir, book your success call here.

Follow Jamal on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kmjahmed/

Connect with Tahir on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tahir-choudhury/

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Transcript
Intro:

Are you ready to know what you don't know about Privacy Pros? Then you're in the right place.

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Welcome to the Privacy Pros Academy podcast by Kazient Privacy Experts. The podcast to launch progress and excel your career as a privacy pro.

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Hear about the latest news and developments in the world of privacy.

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Discover fascinating insights from leading global privacy.

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Professionals, and hear real stories and top tips from the people who have been where you want to get to.

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We're an official IAPP training partner.

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We've trained people in over 137 countries and counting.

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So whether you're thinking about starting a career in data privacy or you are an experienced professional, this is the podcast for you.

Jamilla:

Hi everyone, and welcome to the Privacy Pros Academy podcast. My name is Jamilla and I am your podcast host. With me today is my co-host is Ananya Patel, who is a CIPPE certified data privacy analyst at Kazient Privacy Experts. Welcome Ananya. Thank you for being here for your very first podcast. Our guest today is Tahir Choudhury, who is a graduate of the Privacy Pros Academy. Prior to joining the Academy, he had no real knowledge of data privacy. He never had a salary-based job and was always self-employed. He didn't have a real CV; he had never applied for a job and never had a job interview. But now, since going through the academy, he is CIPPE certified and has an amazing career as a data protection manager, and we will hear more about that later. Welcome, Tahir.

Tahir:

Hi, Jamila. Hi, Ananya. Thank you for having me.

Jamilla:

No problem. We're excited to talk to you. So, as we always do on the Privacy Pros podcast, we're going to start off with an ice breaker question. And since it is a three-day weekend here in the UK this weekend, how are you going to spend your bank holiday?

Tahir:

I think probably just going to go to the beach. I've got my daughter, we’re about 10 to 20 minutes drive to about five different beaches. We’ll do one each day.

Jamilla:

Which one are you going to go to?

Tahir:

Probably Exmouth.

Jamilla:

I like Exmouth. I like Dawlish as well. And Ananya, is there a bank holiday in India?

Ananya:

It is not.

Jamilla:

Well, how are you spending your weekend anyway?

Ananya:

I'm actually relocating, so that's where my weekends are going.

Jamilla:

Where are you relocating to?

Ananya:

Within the city, in Bangalore.

Jamilla:

Nice. I hope it goes well. I myself will be spending the weekend cleaning my kitchen. Right. So let's get onto our privacy questions. So, Tahir, what first sparked your interest in privacy?

Tahir:

I suppose I've got to go back to I started work when I was about ten years old in the restaurant industry, and I went through the whole helping, learning, actually running the business by the time I was 30. I learned a lot, but I had enough. It's too much work. 20-hour days for months on end without days off. And it just wasn't working. So I just thought, I'd knock it on the head, I'll leave it there and I'll find something else. So I got into Taxing, which was so easy, I thought it was the easiest job in the world. You sit there, you just drive around, you chat to people, you make money you get a bit of a belly as well from sitting too long. But it didn't really use your brain, I suppose, if that's even a word. I like problems. I like problem solving. And the only problem I was solving is which exit to come out and round abouts and stuff like that. I think it was last September. I was on Facebook. I'm never on Facebook, for some reason, I just was. I saw a post with Fayaaz Choudhury, who's my cousin, and he was on this very podcast, and I thought, that's very cool. I thought, I'd want to listen and see, just listen to what he's got to say. And I was very impressed. I was very proud of what he went through, and it showed me what is possible for me to do. If he's done that, I must be close to what he's done. And I just started talking to him, asking, how does everything work? What do I need to do? I told my missus about it. She's like, why have you not started already? That's how I sparked my interest in privacy.

Ananya:

When was this? Last year.

Tahir:

Last year? In September? Yeah.

Ananya:

In one year, you've come a full circle to being on the podcast. Recording this today?

Tahir:

Oh, yeah.

Jamilla:

Less than a year. So, listeners, if any of you are listening and want to be on the podcast, you could in a year. What is it that pushed you to take the first step to contact PPA and start your journey?

Tahir:

I just wanted to do it after listening to the podcast, it's something I wanted to do because I've never had that kind of mindset or the opportunity to get into something like this, into a professional environment without any skill in privacy, any experience, any qualification. He got an amazing career. I thought, maybe it's possible for me to do, I'm going to try. Why not?

Jamilla:

Did you have any doubts before starting PPA? Were you thinking, maybe privacy is not for me? What were your thoughts then?

Tahir:

No. As soon as I knew I wanted to do it, I just wanted to do it. When I put my mind to do something, I will try and do it. So, there's no hesitation when you do.

Ananya:

When you do decide I want to get into privacy, the first logical steps for people is to get certified. This is the easiest way to get into the job market. But what prompted you to go for the accelerated program? Because the most popular choice that people do is the CIPPE certification. So they get trained for it and then they go and take the exam and they get certified. What made you think, you know what? I actually should go for the accelerator program.

Tahir:

I just saw what Fayaaz went through, and I thought, I need that extra training. I need to go through practically what he's gone through and learn how he's learned. Because I don't have any experience in privacy. I didn't know much at all about privacy. So, yeah, I just dive straight in.

Jamilla:

Okay.

Ananya:

I just want to tell everybody who's listening and watching that when I first met Tahir, and that was when we were already enrolled, and that is our first call with each other. And believe me, Tahir did not have a LinkedIn account. We were discussing how to structure an email, and we were pushing him that, you need to start posting on LinkedIn. We need to work on your personal brand, we need to work on your credibility. So set up a LinkedIn account. And that is him. The first time he posted, he had no display picture. He got it shot professionally. And today, at this point in time, when I see him posting, there's like, all of the top people in the industry commenting and engaging with this post, but they're engaging as equals. It’s not a you did a great job, oh thank you. It's more like they're engaging in interesting discussions and their thoughts, and it's intimidating how far you've come in the short span of time. But so heart-warming and inspiring that I usually actually got emotional when he landed that job. So I just want to say that's where he was, and that is the journey he's had in one year. I don't think I've seen anything like it.

Tahir:

Thank you.

Jamilla:

Yes, it's absolutely amazing. Would you be able to tell us a bit more about the Academy and the program you went through? What did you most benefit from?

Tahir:

The first session we had was actually in London. I knew it was going to be online, but we all came into London. It was cool to meet everyone, and Ananya I didn't actually know you were in the group yet. I just saw you because you zoomed in or something and you saw beach background. Okay. I didn't fully understand. Yeah, that was the first session with Jamal and he went on about mindset, but when he spoke about I've never thought about mindset, but when he spoke about fixed mindset and growth mindset in my mind, it blew my mind. I never knew. I thought my bubble was here and there's a massive world outside. I did not think of it like that. So I was in a fixed mindset, but become a growth mindset. To have that positivity, that was my favourite lesson.

Ananya:

I think in general, the mindset is something that we do focus on the accelerator program, but I saw that it had this profound impact on it, especially what you mentioned about the growth and fixed mindset, because, Jamilla, you won't believe he at first put himself down and say, I'm coming from no knowledge. I have no background so teach me everything. And that's good. That's a good approach to have. But the reason Jamal would object to his word is don't say I don't know it. Say I don't know it yet.

Jamilla:

Yeah, I think that's a really good shift in your mindset because it puts into your mind that you will know it someday. You will be able to get there. Tahir is a testament to that.

Ananya:

Three months he's coming in and telling us, oh, you know what? You needed to do this, you needed to do that.

Tahir:

Yeah. Jamal, he always said, just take a step forward. I think in the group I knew the least, but I want to do the most. I wanted to be like the first one to get to do the CIPPE, do the exam. I probably fail, but I thought, let's just do it. And somehow I passed. I don't know how I passed, but I did pass well.

Jamilla:

So you passed your CIPPE first time?

Tahir:

First time. I think we didn't really start until end of November. So really just over two months. It's just the way Jamal teaches it. And I just went through we didn't even finish the course. I think we were halfway through.

Ananya:

Talk to me about the changes you went through. Came in a different person and then you left a completely different person. What changed? Whether it was your schedule, whether it was I know journalling came in between. I know there were a lot of podcasts, I know there were master classes. Just give our listeners an idea of what it is like to just go through those three months and how you change at the end of it first.

Tahir:

Like I said, the mindset was the biggest thing. You got to be positive. You got to have a growth mindset. I've never been in a professional environment when I mean, like I've never been anything like that. Using things like I've never really used calendars I know people use I've never used calendars. Like making meetings and stuff like that. I remember Jamal showed two of us, maybe on everyone else had other plans during Christmas. He just showed us his schedule of what he was doing. There are other qualifications that he's going for. This is how he sets his time out. He wakes up in the morning, he does this for this amount of time, does the next thing. And I thought, wow, that's really cool way to do things. If I organise myself, I actually get more time in my day and that's what I've done. I was able to break it down. A lot of revision.

Jamilla:

Am I right in thinking that on the program there's kind of like five stages we've already spoken about mindset. Is knowledge another one? Can you go into a bit more detail about what the other ones are? Just in case anyone listening wants to know more about it?

Ananya:

So the accelerator program was actually designed by Jamal after he found out he's been in the industry for a long time and he's figured out what works and what doesn't. And after that he put together this elaborate program, which, if you ask me, it really covers every single aspect of your professional life, whether it's to do with your mindset, whether it's to do with your outward projection or your conceptual clarity, all of it. Like Tahir said, mindset is one of the first things that we tackle because if you don't believe that you deserve the results, you're probably not going to get them. You'd be surprised how many people have that kind of blockage where they have that fixed mindset or some version or some degree of it. So we first try to work on that and then there's a lot of other things. We get into communication, we get into interpersonal skills, we get into a lot of mindset-based stuff. But then after that we actually dive into your theoretical things that you're supposed to know, your conceptual clarity. Are you able to understand the full, complete foundation of everything you need to know? The intricacies? And then we get into your certificate, of course, because we do need to get you certified. We have a goal. We get you certified. And then the fourth thing is we actually work on your practical experience. The thing is the certificate. Yes, it teaches you a lot of stuff for syllabus, but it doesn't really touch on things like privacy notices or ROPAs or impact assessments. These are things that you will be doing day in and day out if you are a privacy professional. And the entire goal of the accelerator program is to get you to come in and hit the ground running when you actually get a role. So there's no guesswork allowed. I don't know how to do this. I still have to learn. I still have to figure it out. You're actually going in armed with everything you need from day one. And so that's the practical experience that we work on, which is we actually explain and teach you how to do each one of these things. Finally, you have personal branding because it's very important that people know who you are. If you're the thing somebody said to me, if you can't show it, you haven't done it. Yes, you’d be surprised 70% of the more meaningful jobs are not even available on job boards and Taylor will probably tell you that he's been contacted inbound with opportunities and that's what will position you in such a way that people who are looking at your profile understand a that you're passionate about privacy, b that you're competent in it and c they want to offer you opportunities. And that's the personal branding aspect.

Jamilla:

Wow, so Tahir. Ananya spoke a little bit about the practical side of things. So ROPAs and data privacy notices and things like that. Is that something that you are now finding really useful in your line of work?

Tahir:

Definitely. All the stuff that we've gone through is the basics. Going through even what we thought is the basics. Other people who are privacy professionals as well, they don't think it's basic, they think it's very high level. But I think it’s basic skills you need to have, doing privacy notices was actually really fun. I sound so geeky, by the way, doing privacy notices is really fun. Doing the ROPAs I love going through the ROPAs because it's just asking questions. I saw Sharan going through how you should ask questions and the kind of tonality you need to have. And that's what I'm seeing at the moment. You got to have that tonality. You got to cultivate that trust and build that confidence. Otherwise people don't open up. You got to know the basic.

Jamilla:

Yeah, definitely. And with the branding on LinkedIn, are you receiving more job offers through LinkedIn? Are you inundated?

Tahir:

I'm getting a fair amount of job offers.

Jamilla:

But you're happy with where you are.

Tahir:

I love where I am. I never thought I'd be in this kind of position.

Jamilla:

Yeah.

Tahir:

But I am. And I'm very grateful. It's literally possible. It's nothing, I've not done anything amazing. It's just I've put the time and gone through what Jamal, not supposed to, told us that he questioned us to do. Yeah, that's how I got here.

Ananya:

You know what, actually one observation I want to make is Tahir is the one person in the entire program, and I was in the program with him, so I know first-hand the one person who would do everything Jamal said every single thing. If Jamal said, breathe, he would breathe. And so it was like he got those results. If you look at the other people, they're still getting those results that you've already reached, that you're a Data Protection manager. What did you do right? And where do you think you would have been if you hadn't followed every single thing Jamal said?

Tahir:

I don't think I would have even maybe qualified. I don't think I would have got a career in privacy. Maybe I might have, but it would have taken a lot longer to do. Like people take years just to become a data privacy analyst, to get a managerial position that's even a few more years, and I was able to do it in six months. But it's not just down to me, it's down to people having confidence in me and they put the trust in me to do it.

Jamilla:

What is the main difference, maybe looking back to a year ago, what your life was like then compared to how your life is now? What are kind of the main differences that you're feeling?

Tahir:

My life wasn't structured before spending time with the family. It used to be a lot of night work, evenings and nights, so it was sleeping during the day and things like that just wasn't nice. My wife will vouch it wasn't nice.

Jamilla:

You have a daughter, so did you miss out on time with her?

Tahir:

I did. I missed out on a lot of time with her and that's not something I wanted to do but I had to do because you got to work. And now I've got so much time, it's ridiculous. I don't know how I thought taxing was easy, but this is easy. People may say it's not easy, but for me, I find it so easy and so interesting. It's because I'm engaged, loving my job, like doing DPIAs, going through ROPAs, it's really fun. And I get to have breaks in between. It's down to me. As long as I get the tasks done, no one's on my back. No one's going to say, like, the culture of the company is probably one of the best cultures. Even we've got a DPO, he said out of 80 different companies he's consulted for, this is probably one of the best companies that has the culture. Everyone backs you.

Ananya:

I remember you telling me one day that when you got your job, that you mentioned K anonymisation, something that we learned when you were studying anonymisation, and your DPO said that I wasn't aware of that kind of depth. And he was kind of impressed by you for knowing that.

Tahir:

I think that was an interview. That was an interview.

Ananya:

Okay.

Tahir:

They were impressed because a lot of people think anonymization, they don’t even know pseudonymisation, I didn't know the word. And then what K value is or how that's the measurement of how anonymized data is, is something very high level.

Ananya:

I'd say, how did that feel? Do you walk into an interview and teach the interviewer something that they didn't know?

Tahir:

It felt good. Even now in my work that I'm doing now, is that teaching? Before, I would have said teaching is so boring. It's not something I could do. But teaching about data privacy, because you have to teach the whole organization. When you speak to stakeholders, you're the main person who knows about data privacy in the room usually is going to be the main person. So, you've got to teach them and let them know what they need to do, because you need to give them the tools as well. It's not just yourself. It's so much you can do.

Jamilla:

What else do you do in your day-to-day role?

Tahir:

My main role is around records of processing activities.

Jamilla:

Okay.

Tahir:

But every day is different. I was called Colombo the other day.

Jamilla:

The detective?

Tahir:

Yeah. I used to love that show. But yeah, our DPO just said, you’re like Colombo. You show, you don't know much, but you actually know more and you can find out so much. That's what I do. I'm finding out how the company works, trying to do gap analysis and make everything more mature in privacy.

Ananya:

You said a lot of good things about the program. What were the challenges? What did you find difficult about the program? This is just something that I'm having to what did you find and how did you overcome it?

Tahir:

There's nothing I really found bad about it. I can't say anything bad about it because I've got to where I am because of what I went through, so there's nothing bad I could say.

Jamilla:

Wow.

Ananya:

Would you say that there were any challenges?

Tahir:

The whole program is a challenge for you to learn and not just go through each chapter? You have to go very in depth, and Jamal just makes it easy peasy. I know he always says easy peasy but he does. Everyone, whoever's in the cohort, everyone will vouch, but that's what he does. He just makes it easy peasy.

Jamilla:

I think that's the testament to the program, to everyone that works in the program, that there's nothing bad about it. I mean, it's challenging as any other kind of learning program would be, but you've only got good things to say about it, which is amazing.

Ananya:

What would you say to somebody who is in the position that you were in September? What would you say to them?

Tahir:

A lot of people say they don't know what to do. They don't have a motivation or an aim, a target. I mean, if you don't try something you don't really know, that's the first thing. But if you know what you want to do, you take action. There's a book I was reading and I can't remember who it was, but he said that if you tell someone to do press ups, there are two kinds of people. If there's one person, be like, how am I going to put my arms? Is it too far forward? Is my back right? Is the floor dirty? You're going to think of all kinds of things not to do it. And the person that literally, you can just do one press up, however they do it and do it every day, by one month, he would have progressed so much and the other person just would be waiting. So take action. Whatever is, even if it's small, even if it’s one percent a day. Just be better. That's what you need to do. And you can, everything's skill. Just about everything is skill, but all the skills are learnable. It's nothing if you want to become a doctor, anything, literally, you just got to learn the skills. Thank you.

Ananya:

Yes. The new cohort that we have for the Accelerator program, I just want you to know that every single one of them looks up to you. I think they’ve connected with you already, and they're already talking to you. But if they haven't, they've seen your post, they've seen the work that you've done on Webinars, and they see how you're networking with everybody. And let me just tell you, they come and they tell me, I want to be like Tahir. Can you do that to me? Can you make me a Tahir? Yes. So I just want to ask you very candidly to somebody who is your contemporary, what are your three tips to somebody who's already on the program? Or they're thinking about it, but then to get the results that you did, what did you do right? And what three things should they do?

Tahir:

First thing I would say to do is whatever is being told by Jamal, go through the steps, however silly it sounds. I mean, I thought I was never on LinkedIn. That's the first time I was on LinkedIn. But just do what Jamie says. Do it, and do it the best you can. Because if you put your time and effort into it, you will come out the other side with what you didn't even know you could do. So, yeah, that's the first thing, I suppose. The second thing in the community, because there's different, like WhatsApp, Signal communities with other privacy professionals. It's a safe environment. Ask questions. You're not going to be the only one that has that question. Ask questions, get yourself known and people answer. Everyone's really friendly. I don't know how it works out, but all privacy professionals seem to be friendly. You should plan your time out a lot better, I'd say.

Jamilla:

Yeah.

Tahir:

Because whatever it is you want to do, have the goals, but you need not just the goals, you need to have a system of how you're going to do it. So put that time in the morning, I'm going to wake up, I'm going to put an hour into revise, I'm going to do whatever is next. Literally just go step by step, but put the time in. Whatever you need to do, put the time in. And when someone says, I'm too busy to do this, it's not really you're too busy, it's because you don't prioritize the academy more than whatever it is you can do. So it depends what your priorities are.

Jamilla:

Yeah. And it's a short twelve-week kind of intense and the outcome that you get from it is so huge. So, it's worth kind of putting you all into those twelve weeks.

Ananya:

And it's not even prioritizing the academy, I think it's prioritizing yourself. The most important investment you can make is in yourself. If you're not going to make out the time, we're not going to come to your house for you to study. You have to stick to that schedule, put in that work and see what happens when you do something.

Tahir:

On investing yourself 100% you should invest in yourself if you think you're going to put £10,000 into some stocks and shares and stuff, I'm telling you, put that £10,000 into training, whatever it is you want to do, put it into yourself, you'll make way more. And if you think it's a lot of money, let's say £10,000, think about the money you would have lost a year down the line if you didn't do this. So, yeah, people shouldn't worry about money. Well, you should worry about money but sacrifice it to do what it is you want to do.

Jamilla:

Yeah, I think that's interesting, especially with kind of the economic situation we're all in, but it’s definitely, it’s always going to be worth it to better yourself, to further your career. Last question for you, Tahir. Where do you see yourself in five to ten years?

Tahir:

I'm not sure, because I'm in an in-house environment at the moment, which is really cool. Consulting is very cool. But maybe some sort of consulting firm or maybe travel. Maybe go to Dubai and stuff? Yeah, just go around the world. I’d love to see other areas. Maybe something like that.

Jamilla:

Amazing. And Ananya, do you have any last questions for Tahir

Ananya:

I’d just like to ask for our audiences. If somebody wants to get in touch with you and just ask you about your experience or ask you for some tips, how do they do that?

Tahir:

down the line, I've got over:

Jamilla:

Wow.

Tahir:

More than:

Jamilla:

Well, we can link your LinkedIn profile below. Thank you so much for joining us on the Privacy Pros Academy podcast Tahir.

Tahir:

Thank you very much. Thank you.

Ananya:

Thank you, Tahir

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About the Podcast

Privacy Pros Podcast
Discover the Secrets from the World's Leading Privacy Professionals for a Successful Career in Data Protection
Data privacy is a hot sector in the world of business. But it can be hard to break in and have a career that thrives.

That’s where our podcast comes in! We interview leading Privacy Pros and share the secrets to success each fortnight.

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About your host

Profile picture for Jamal Ahmed FIP CIPP/E CIPM

Jamal Ahmed FIP CIPP/E CIPM

Jamal Ahmed is CEO at Kazient Privacy Experts, whose mission is safeguard the personal data of every woman, man and child on earth.

He is an established and comprehensively qualified Global Privacy professional, World-class Privacy trainer and published author. Jamal is a Certified Information Privacy Manager (CIPM), Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP/E) and Certified EU GDPR Practitioner.

He is revered as a Privacy thought leader and is the first British Muslim to be awarded the designation "Fellow of Information Privacy’ by the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP).