Who is Shaista Peart?

Shaista Peart is a Jamaican Data Governance and Privacy Professional, experienced and qualified CIPP-E, and a member of CCST, a collaborative community on Discord with over 170 Caribbean people in IT across the world.

CCST’s conversation with Shaista started with us interrupting her evening’s viewing of the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar - with Jamaica’s own Shericka Jackson on the track, time stood still momentarily. Shaista was quite willing to accommodate us at that time, throughout the interview her sweet, bubbly and welcoming personality could not be missed. What was intended to be a 30-minute conversation ended up lasting almost 2-hours. The conversation was so loaded it has inspired a spin-off series, more to come at a later date.

Who is Shaista Peart?

It’s difficult to talk about yourself, but if I could sum myself up, I am someone who wants to put positivity into the world through positive vibrations. I want anyone who comes in contact with me to feel relaxed and good overall. I would classify myself as determined. I believe in doing the best you can given the circumstances faced and the available resources to push through no matter what. I have a love for music and the performing arts. I play the keyboard when I have the time.

I am often willing to help, which can sometimes be seen as a weakness in society. I believe that we shouldn’t have to subscribe to the harsh characteristics prescribed by society to be successful. Kindness does go a long way, and if we focus on our expertise and knowledge and place these traits at the forefront while being approachable, it will create better relationships.

How did you get started in Tech?

I started as an intern with a hospital that was designated a Healthcare Technology Cooperative. At the time, there were eight (8) such entities in the UK. The main focus of each HTC was to find innovative ways to use technology to advance medicine and improve patient outcome. Various technology was used to look at rare diseases, family member testing and genome structuring. I interned for the entire summer, and my interest was noticed therefore my internship was extended.

How did you get into the field of Information Governance?

During my time as an intern, I had to coordinate and liaise a lot with Information Governance. At the time, Information Governance was responsible for ensuring that all the evolutionary research being conducted was done lawfully and ethically without stymying growth and innovation. That was the key balance, ensuring the next cure for a potential outbreak wasn't impeded because too much focus is placed on data protection and closing down key datasets but also ensuring that the rights and freedoms of individuals were protected in the process. I developed a love for compliance and governance because it focused on technology and data being used responsibly to progress society.

Some of the professionals I know in the information governance space came from library services and information rights backgrounds. They subsequently developed themselves by doing degrees in Management Information Systems at the time. This was a motivating factor for me as someone who entered the space with a Business and Management degree. I went on to garner experience in data management within the health industry. Management of data in the healthcare setting is quite robust and stringent since mismanagement could have a significant impact on persons. It was a wonderful and grounded foundation which motivated me to continue my career in the space. Eventually I got qualified as a Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP) with the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP).

If you weren’t in Tech, which other path would you have taken?

I had an interest in Human Resources, a huge part of that has to do with ensuring that people are doing well. Undoubtedly, people are a very crucial part of a company and will determine its success. That being said, if the people are taken care of, it makes meeting the goals of the business possible.

What key advice would you give to others interested in a career in Information Governance?

Stay current. Read something related to the area at least once per day. Subscribe to platforms that share snippets of what’s happening, especially on data breaches; they happen way more frequently than people believe. They are also key for testing and assessing current frameworks/processes in the business. Be a lover of reading, there is a whole lot of that involved. It is important to read from different sources and to understand key technical and complex concepts.

Any final encouragement?

Zone out the noise, focus on you. Don’t be afraid to reach out to persons in the space you are trying to get into. Don’t be scared to fail; it doesn’t mean you aren’t good. Social media only shares the wins and doesn't show the multiple times people have failed before they finally get the win. If you fail, it just means you are trying and learning in the process. It's important to go at your own pace, a lot of times we get caught up comparing our path with that of another. Last but definitely not least, learn how and when to take a break. Take your health seriously, burnout is a real thing.

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You can reach Shaista by:

CCST members have a wealth of benefits at their fingertips, such as sponsored books, online courses, job boards, entrepreneurial support, and instant international networking. If you're from the Caribbean and either working in or interested in a career in IT, join today! Download the Discord App and click the invite link below.

CCST is an initiative of The Gavin Dennis Foundation Ltd., a registered non-profit organisation in Jamaica.

Thank you to our corporate sponsor G5 Cyber Security, Inc for providing quarterly to supply our members with resources. G5 Cyber Security is a team of intelligent Cyber Security Consultants supporting businesses and people to protect their important data.