Records and Information Management (RIM) Month - Celebrating Lauren Doerries
The Records and Information Management (RIM) community celebrates April as the RIM month to promote and highlight the importance of RIM across organizations. In honor of this year’s RIM month, Meru Data is showcasing a few women Information Governance (IG) leaders and their professional journey.
This week we are highlighting Lauren Doerries, Senior Manager of Global Information Governance at Walgreens Boots Alliance. Lauren is a global Information Governance professional with a proven track record of cross-functional collaboration, policy development, strategic planning, and driving successful process improvement projects that increase efficiency and reduce operational risk.
What drew you into the IG profession, and what do you love about what you do?
I started my journey on the legal side, as a litigation paralegal, prior to becoming involved with IG. As part of my job at United Airlines, I oversaw the subpoena response process for the company. It mostly involved finding information, sometimes vague and broadly described information, from all over the company. The scope of the requests ran the full gamut including different kinds of data, records, non-records, electronic data paper records, personal records, etc.. I also worked with litigation attorneys on responding to information-related discovery requests. So essentially, my job involved finding all sorts of information and, as a result, I became very well acquainted with how information was being managed across the organization.
As much as I enjoyed being a ‘go-to’ person for where to find things, it eventually became clear that there had to be a better way to keep track of our records related practices. At that time, outside of aircraft records, we didn’t really have any formal records management in place at the company. That led to the development of our records management program, which I ended up spearheading, based on my knowledge of the company and where all the information was being stored, how it was laid out, how it was organized, and who owned what types of information across the organization. As I began to build out the program, we developed a global retention schedule and started to formally document information-related processes and procedures.
It was an interesting and complex role and I enjoyed connecting the different pieces together. I had the chance to work truly cross-functionally across the entire organization and was able to learn what everyone was doing and to help people better manage their information.
How do you think IG as a profession evolved in the last 2-3 years and why is it essential for most organizations?
It is interesting how the terms records management and information governance are used interchangeably. I think people are using the IG moniker more commonly now and tend to view ‘records management, which has historically been a mostly paper-based function, as increasingly less relevant.
Today, the data we are creating at every level has begun to explode. This has created a prime opportunity for the people who already have a base-level knowledge of how information was managed across a company to jump into the digital side of things, as things continue to evolve.
Now, I see IG professionals advancing more towards the areas of data governance and data analytics, and working with electronically stored information. Information governance went from being something that was kind of novel, to being extraordinarily necessary just within a span of three or four years. Because of that, we’re beginning to see more and more director-level and higher positions being created within firms and organizations because they understand that there is a need for them to be in control of their information and to build a governance framework around this explosion of data.
Information governance professionals have also become a touch-point for a number of other compliance functions and initiatives including privacy, InfoSec and data governance. While these functions specialize in different aspects of managing information, when done well, good IG can help maximize the efficiency of all of them. For example, you can’t protect something if you don’t know that it exists, so if you don’t know where all of your data lives, your IT security or privacy program isn’t going to be as effective as it could be. Likewise, you can't really maximize the value your data if you can’t find it (or if you have to spend too much time looking for it).
You talked about IG professionals being the glue between privacy, security, and data governance because they know where the data is. So, if you are the glue between all of these functions, what do you think would be the most important skill sets to have?
Asking lots of questions is a huge part of this job and I feel that the most successful people are the ones that are curious and a little bit nosy. You need to be comfortable talking to different people and asking questions like: Where did that come from? Why are you doing it that way? Who else uses that information up the line and down the line? How long do we really need to keep this around, etc.
That kind of curiosity and the willingness to ask somewhat difficult or probing questions that people don't necessarily want to talk about because it is not part of their job, is what will ultimately uncover the information you’ll need to be successful in this profession.
If you go back to the beginning of your career, what advice would you give to your younger self?
Pursuing a particular aspect of IG would really prove to be beneficial for aspiring professionals. You can specialize in a number of aspects of IG, including the legal/compliance side or the technology side. So it’s important to figure out which path you feel more inclined to take early on so that you can develop yourself professionally and education-wise on that path. Bring able to speak the language of the people that you work with throughout your organization can go a long way towards gaining their trust.
Any closing thoughts to other IG professionals?
I think one of the most important things for IG professionals to remember is that we have an incredibly important role to play, which is not always acknowledged. So, it is crucial to remain flexible, to continue to grow and learn about either the legal side or the technology side. You have to be willing to continually develop your own knowledge and stay current on what your organization's needs are so that you can grow with your company. Unlike the folks in marketing or accounting, we aren’t always guaranteed a seat at the table. We need to continuously prove our worth to the organization. My closing advice would be to remain relevant by remaining up to date.
There is a tremendous amount of value in being both the historian and the future, forward-thinking technologist. You are the one that has the past and the future all under the same umbrella. It really puts you in a position to know more about your organization and know it from a more holistic standpoint than anybody else. How you put that knowledge to use though, is up to you.