In a lopsided data privacy market, it’s time for CPOs to address their ‘image problem’

In a lopsided data privacy market, it’s time for CPOs to address their ‘image problem’

“Why is the junior to mid-level market recruitment booming in data privacy, but the senior end is slow?”

In our discussions with candidates, this is a question we often hear. And there is indeed a common theme emerging – data privacy seems to have a multitude of opportunities open for junior to mid level professionals, but the more senior Chief Privacy Officer or Data Protection Officer roles are few and far between.

There’s no doubt that macroeconomics play a part in this. Last year was widely acknowledged as a difficult one for the data privacy recruitment market, whereas the first half of 2024 has proven far more promising.  The reality is that the more junior end of the market always picks up first and the rest will ultimately follow.  However, the lack of confidence in our global economy, combined with geopolitical factors, has led the market – and employers - to remain cautious. 

And yet, the workload is absolutely there. Data privacy, as we know, is a huge priority for organisations as we face into new regulations and expectations across the globe.  For businesses, it’s a safer bet right now to secure sign-off for a more junior team member to take on the day to day work, but ultimately, is this a short term solution.

Making a strong business case for a CPO is crucial. And it goes way beyond data protection. It’s about how data privacy fits into the overall business strategy and how it intertwines with the CDO or CCO’s visions for growth and data monetisation.

The answer really lies with CPOs themselves. Sometimes, they have an image problem (through no fault of their own), whereby other departments don’t always understand the depth and breadth of the role, or the involvement it has in overall business leadership. 

Proactivity and visibility are key. The CPOs who are thriving are continuously asking themselves, “what more value can I bring?” This is a role which constantly evolves and responds to the ever-changing dynamics of the data privacy world.  Furthermore, it’s always a good idea to step up as a thought leader, to share opinions, join podcasts, attend events, write articles and share expertise with the wider world. It’s a long game, but the gains are immense.

Raising your profile as a CPO is a win-win scenario: CPOs not only prove their worth but they end up being consulted on privacy issues at earlier stages of projects, which in turn ensures greater compliance in the long run. 

In short, today’s data privacy leaders need to be visible, proactive and creative in their approach to help keep momentum in a sluggish recruitment arena. 

Once perceptions begin to change, we can expect to see the market pick up and we predict that 2025 will be transformational for data privacy recruitment.