Today’s digitized world is filled with visibility and recognition, and ironically the other side to that coin is data privacy and security. Data privacy and security leaders focus to protect critical data from various threats. One such leader that focuses on creating global privacy and data protection programs is Elena Elkina.
Elena is a Partner and Co-Founder at Aleada Consulting. She uses her experience and expertise to advise clients on diverse privacy and data protection programs.
A Journey Thitherto Today
Elena has spent a significant amount of time working as a consultant, compliance professional, lawyer, and business owner. For Elena Elkina, privacy hits close to home. Her childhood in a secret city in the Soviet Union morphed into a driving need to safeguard privacy of businesses and individuals. The city Elkina grew up in was literally a secret — it was not on the map. Largely populated with government-chosen software engineers, city residents were under constant surveillance. Years later, with a law degree in hand, Elkina started her career in data protection, privacy, and compliance in 2005, before privacy became a hot matter.
Elena’s second calling is working to affect change in organizations to promote the advancement of women into leadership roles. Before founding Aleada Consulting (“Aleada”), three partners, Elena, along with four other women, co-founded Women in Security and Privacy (“WISP”), a non-profit organization that aims to advance women and minorities in the privacy and security fields.
Sharing knowledge and perspective and lifting up women and people of color has been one of Elena’s biggest priorities, and this was a guiding motivation for establishing WISP. Because of the support she received from her partners and the industry, they founded Aleada Consulting to advise clients on all matters related to privacy and data protection.
With her team, Elena works hand-in-glove to help wrangle compliance policies, programs, products, and procedures into protective shields that keep clients’ businesses safe. Then, they implement them. They make sure their clients are compliant, resilient, reassured, and ready for the future.
The Overview of Aleada
Elena expresses that Aleada is a minority-female-owned privacy and information security firm. It is not a typical consultancy, and the company’s clients are unique. Its clients face a maze of complex privacy and information security laws and consumer expectations where data missteps can trigger fines or worse, leaving companies confused and overwhelmed.
For start-up CEOs, general corporate counsels, overworked privacy professionals, and CISOs in technology, fintech, health-tech, and cannabis, Aleada is the trusted partner companies call to help build privacy, information security, product development, and compliance programs. It helps navigate new regulations, respond to enforcement actions, and anticipate and lockdown privacy and data protection procedures.
Aleada shapes policies that reduce risk and makes them more resilient and critically deploys proven technology solutions to implement compliance processes. It helps keep the organization one step ahead of privacy regulations.
Elena says that there is no cookie-cutter program you can apply to every client and every engagement. There are many things Aleada takes into consideration when it engages with clients for its services that go beyond policy, procedures, training, tools, legal and control frameworks.
Aleada’s work assesses client compliance requirements, and it helps them align their compliance strategy with business goals. There’s a lot of planning involved to build solid personalized privacy program and a significant amount of training that keeps it engaged with clients. Elena truly understands a client’s business and can adapt company programs to meet their changing needs fast.
Elena states that compliance is complicated. New regulations seem to pop up like mushrooms. Mismanagement could result in fines, ruined reputations, and worse. Another obstacle: Compliance requirements can get in the way of business progress. Also, what works for one client won’t work for another client.
Elena adds that every client has a set of strengths and weaknesses and the only real way to create a solid data privacy program is to do a deep dive into their business. Who are their customers? What sort of systems are they using? Where are the threats coming from? Can their needs be addressed with new technology, new personnel, new procedures, or a combination of all three?
Aleada’s biggest impact comes from what some might think is the smallest of things – it listens to its client’s concerns. It audits their systems, processes, and teams before building a custom privacy and information security program that’s perfect for their business.
Elena is convinced it is the company’s personal approach and her team’s experience that wins new business. Its reputation is outstanding and gets new business from client referrals. Elena says, “You cannot help a client build a strong privacy and security team without showing them you have one too, and Aleada does.”
Securing Client’s Data Through Technology
Elena states that Aleada helps its clients with its core services by building privacy and information security into their products, services, overall compliance program, and company culture. It has been focusing on creating global privacy and data protection programs, including developing and implementing regulatory frameworks, risk/gap assessments, maturity models, long-term roadmaps, and data protection policies; designing and employing de-identification and Privacy by Design data handling processes. It also works with development and business teams to build cloud, web, and mobile consumer and business products across the globe.
Elena noticed that when faced with the need to set up something complex quickly or face liability risk, it is common for companies to turn to law firms to pick up the slack. A reasonable reaction often results in a patterned/checklist-driven approach in dealing with risk management instead of building and implementing its privacy and data protection program; legal and compliance should come hand in hand. As a result, a growing premium is placed on privacy-specific expertise and data protection, information security, and data governance.
It has become a necessary asset for any company, no matter the industry sector, its maturity, or target market, specifically for disruptive technologies in the future. Elena expresses that Aleada must focus on the intersection of technology, data stewardship, and compliance, as a privacy and information security firm to stay ahead of the industry and support business growth.
The Long Run
As long as Elena sees herself on a beach in the Maldives enjoying her waterfront home in her future, she wants to create fundamental changes by bringing more diversity to the ever-growing cybersecurity industry as a long goal.
Elena hopes to grow Aleada to help an increasing number of clients without losing the notion that listening is more important than speaking. The company’s personalized approach to developing custom data privacy policies for its customers creates the most value for its clients and company, which gives Elena joy in everything she does.
Elena advises budding women entrepreneurs to speak up, partner up, and know their value. She says, “Demand value be placed on the job at hand and not your gender. Be bold and ethical. Show competence and leadership. And this isn’t just about the privacy and security sector; it’s about life,” concludes Elena.