The Value of Mentorship by Ivy Orecchio

The Value of Mentorship by Ivy Orecchio

Something I have always loved about the privacy industry is that everyone has taken a different path in their careers and towards success. Privacy professionals include lawyers, healthcare professionals, scholars, journalists, engineers, nonprofit professionals, and even social workers! The diversity among privacy professionals contributes to the ever-growing body of work as we bring our unique perspectives into the consideration of emerging technologies and privacy problems. So it begs the question – how do you grow a future privacy analyst, director of privacy, or even a Future Chief Privacy Officer? I believe that tomorrow’s privacy leaders are grown through intentional and personal mentorship today.

“Shu Ha Ri” is a skill mastery framework invented by Japanese martial artists and adopted by Agile and Scrum teams worldwide. It works well as a mentorship model for budding privacy professionals via immersion, risk-taking, and passing it on.

1. Immersion in education and certification.
In the “Shu” stage of mastery, new privacy professionals will use templates, follow examples, and adhere to organizational policies and procedures. During this stage, a mentee needs early and broad exposure to privacy and its many applications. Participating in training sessions or boot camps, attending conferences, or reading and discussing privacy resources can be critical to shaping a privacy professional. Within weeks of being hired into my first privacy role, my own mentors guided me to attend the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) Global Privacy Summit and enroll in a series of privacy workshops and boot camps hosted by the Dept. of Homeland Security, Dept. of Justice, the Federal Privacy Counsel, among others. These early experiences instilled in me a passion for privacy.

2. Risk-taking and stretch assignments.
When your mentee is consistently questioning privacy concepts and ways of working, you’ll know they have entered the “Ha” stage of mastery. This is an opportune time for a mentor to introduce stretch assignments aimed at challenging and broadening a mentee’s existing skillset. Some great stretch assignments are investigating privacy in a different sector (e.g., finance, healthcare, or international privacy issues), presenting on a privacy topic, or learning about a new type of technology and its privacy implications. During this period, a mentee may struggle and make mistakes, but a strong mentor will empower their privacy professional to expand beyond their current role and begin to innovate by creating a safe space for learning.

3. Thoughtful discussion and passing it on.
During the “Ri” stage, a mentee begins learning from their own practice, developing their own approaches, and contributing to the greater body of knowledge. Mentors encourage their mentees to accelerate into “Ri” by engaging them as knowledgeable peers through thoughtful discussions, debating different topics, or speculating what may come next in the world of privacy. If not doing so already, the mentee must begin mentoring others. Mentorship is a skill that must be practiced, and as lifelong learners, the continued growth of the privacy profession depends on cultivating teachers and mentors.

Privacy programs can take many shapes and forms and are made stronger by empowered employees given the encouragement and space to grow. Mentorship demonstrates a commitment to the longevity and success of these programs by investing in the growth and professional development of its people. Here at Kuma, every teammate is both student and teacher, and we live the Kuma values of creativity and innovation, bold leadership, and authenticity. Our collective investment in each other’s success is one of the reasons we are a highly cross-functional, adaptable team that is consistently chosen by our clients as their partner of choice.

Please reach out to me at or on LinkedIn to continue the discussion on mentorship in privacy!