Instead of creating a typical job posting for this role, I thought I would instead publish an email exchange between Joe (our SVP, General Counsel) and myself (Jane Maguire - Executive Hiring at Shopify).
From: Jane Maguire
Date: Tue, Jan 3, 2017 at 3:16 PM
Subject: Privacy Role
Thanks for taking the time to meet with me and Doug last week. Since we started this search, I have also met with Monica, MJ and Erin to get their views on the opportunity and the ideal profile. We’ve also been doing a ton of research and reaching out to people who are working in privacy right now to get their thoughts and advice before posting the role. I wanted to highlight what I think is important/get your thoughts on a few more things after our discussion:
1. Your team lovingly refers to the person we need as a “privacy nerd”. To me that means that even though they may (but not necessarily) be practicing in Canada, they’d still be able to talk about what’s going on with data protection and privacy globally, and be freakishly into it. For example, the OPC released the results of their joint investigation with the Australian Privacy Commissioner into the Ashley Madison case a few months ago… I wonder what this person’s thoughts are on the findings and if/how the outcome could affect us.
2. As for location, I think they would ideally be working out of our Ottawa HQ. For the right person, would working from our Toronto, Montreal or Waterloo offices but travelling to Ottawa from time to time be feasible?
3. We haven’t firmed up a title for this opportunity yet - classic Shopify. When I talk with candidates I will make it clear that compliance will be a large piece, but there is a huge opportunity to really make this role their own and they’ll be expected to drive strategy and thought leadership as well. What do you think?
I am excited by the prospect of adding to your team. It has been great to get to know them more as I find they are really into what they do and willing to roll up their sleeves, dig in and help others. Do you want to comment on how you built this out? What makes a good lawyer versus an outstanding lawyer in your mind? What does it take to fit with your team?
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this. I’d like to get the posting up this week so we can see who’s interested and start bringing people in for short list the second or third week in March.
From: Joe Frasca
Date: Wed, Jan 4, 2017 at 11:14 AM
Subject: Re: Privacy Role
To: Jane Maguire
It was great to sit down with you last week and go over the search. A few comments on what you highlighted:
1. Yes! A lawyer passionate about (or in your words, “freakishly” into) global privacy and data protection issues is exactly what we’re looking for. With Shopify merchants in 150 countries, knowledge and experience limited to Canada isn’t going to cut it. We want someone on top of the latest global privacy and data protection issues - whether that’s GDPR, Privacy Shield, or the fallout from the Yahoo data breach.
But that's only a piece of it - just as important is experience designing / running a best in class privacy program in a fast moving corporate environment. Practicing in Canada is a plus, but domain expertise is far more important to me than where the candidate is licensed to practice law. We need candidates with genuine passion for privacy and data protection - those who will come to the table with lots of opinions and ideas (based on a solid foundation of experience) to continue the development of our privacy and data programs across the company.
2. Right now my legal team is all based here in Ottawa, so yes, ideally the candidate will work here at Ottawa HQ. That said, the great thing about working for Shopify is that there is flexibility in terms of location. For the right candidate, location is TBD.
3. Let's go with Associate General Counsel, Privacy. This role will have ownership over our global privacy and data protection programs, responsible for driving strategy, compliance and implementation. It's also important to note that I view titles only as a shorthand way of communicating professional responsibilities outside of Shopify - internally the trust our lawyers build through their domain expertise, craftsmanship, understanding and support of our goals as a business means a hell of a lot more.
As to your other questions, when I started out here at Shopify I spent a long long time considering how to build an efficient and effective in house legal team in a fast-paced startup environment. When I look for lawyers, I want to see that they are experts in their specialty (and passionate about it), able to work independently and own what they’re working on, and be enthusiastic about gaining a deep understanding of Shopify’s business. More important, lawyers at Shopify need to be comfortable being uncomfortable. We’re not your typical legal team. For lawyers joining the team, they need to be excited by tackling problems in new and sometimes unconventional ways, and know when to push hard for what is important - like compliance with the law, and when to acknowledge something as a business risk that we can help assess.
I'm really excited about this role. Our AGC, Privacy has an amazing opportunity to make a significant impact at Shopify and for our merchants, partners and stakeholders in 150 countries around the world.
Good luck with your search, I’m looking forward to the candidates you find!
From: Jane Maguire
Date: Thu, Jan 5, 2017 at 2:28 PM
Subject: Re: Privacy Role
Sounds good! I’m pumped to take this on.
Experience comes in many forms, many skills are transferable, and passion goes a long way. We know that diversity of thought makes for the best problem-solving and creative thinking, which is why we're dedicated to adding new perspectives to the team.