Episode 3: Michelle Levin

Season 3
Michelle Levin

Season 3

Episode 3: Michelle Levin

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Anthony Brown: [00:00:00] Hello there, I'm Anthony Brown and I'm very pleased to welcome you to another episode of the podcast. For today's episode, I am really excited to be joined by Michelle Levine, who is the Global Privacy Director at Onfido. Michelle leads a global privacy team and sits on the executive team at Onfido who, if you don't know already, are a fast growth AI company who digitally prove people's identities using a photo ID, facial biometrics and passive signals. So obviously all very topical at the mument for us. So Michelle, welcome to the podcast. It's great to have you on. How's your week going?

Michelle Levin: [00:00:59] My week is going really well Anthony. Thank you. So I was at a conference yesterday, speaking about digital assets and privacy, which was fascinating. It was the future. Let's see if I can get this right. Future of financial services summit. So really great bunch of people. And most importantly though, the Onfido netball team won our semi-final match last night and.

Anthony Brown: [00:01:23] Oh wow.

Michelle Levin: [00:01:24] The final's next week!

Anthony Brown: [00:01:26] Amazing. Tell me about that. So is that is it an intercompany thing or is it just for anybody who can join in the league or.

Michelle Levin: [00:01:34] Yeah, it's for anybody. We play in Shoreditch so it's like a really nice league. I actually this is only my second match. I've just started playing netball again. Haven't played for probably. 15 years, something like that. So I'm taking tentative steps. My husband keeps telling me not to kill myself or break your leg. It's no fun. I'm really enjoying it.

Anthony Brown: [00:01:57] It's amazing. And you know, equally, I know we're going to come on to this later on, but you're incredibly busy, lady. You're a mum to a young daughter as well. And I think interestingly, for our listeners, later on during this session, you'll be talking about your experiences having, um, you know, sort of stepped off the train a little period of time from maternity leave and then actually coming back to an extremely busy role, and now you're even managing to to play netball as well. So super impressive stuff. So, Michelle, you've had such an interesting career and you've worked in a variety of sectors over the years. And obviously, you know, nothing probably more cutting edge than your current role with with Onfido who obviously slap bang in the middle of AI, which is, you know, a topic that everyone's talking about obviously at the mument. Just firstly, though, would you mind just sort of telling us a bit about your early days, why you chose a career in law? Please.

Michelle Levin: [00:02:59] It's it's such a cliche. So my dad was a lawyer and my grandad was a lawyer, and they both had high street practices in Liverpool. Though whether you say it's in the blood or just, I don't know, my dad did everything he could to put me off it. I was put to work in the basement every holiday doing like filing any rubbish job. It was like, give it to Michelle, we don't want to. Being a lawyer.

Speaker3: [00:03:29] And.

Michelle Levin: [00:03:31] Spent around Liverpool police stations to see clients, the police generally said, are you there girlfriend? Never thought I was part of the legal team. So whether it was a bit of like this is interesting, really low expectations of people people have of you and just realizing that point of actually you can smash expectations, which was quite nice. Um, and I then considered I was really good at science at school, and so I considered medicine. I was far too squeamish, um, fairly interested in like, research and could see something in there, but realized I did not have the patience to sit and do experiments all day. So it was almost sort of fell into it a little bit. Um, and probably some people would say my argumentative nature.

Speaker3: [00:04:18] Nice.

Anthony Brown: [00:04:19] Well, I would argue that that's not particularly, um, uh, cliched. You know, I mean, it's it was it was right there in front of you. Some people may have chosen not to go but down that route, but obviously, those hours in the basement doing all the menial jobs obviously captured your imagination. And you decided to become a lawyer. So, um. Amazing. So. Okay, so then you no doubt had, um. Well, I know had a stellar education. And then you actually began your career as a trainee at Field Fisher. Field Fisher Waterhouse think they were called back in those days. Um, and, you know, obviously, from the work that I've done over, over the years and as you well know, you know, during that time that you were sort of training. So I guess we're going back to the early to mid noughties now. Something around there. Is that right? Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Um, I mean they were, they were kind of pretty much the first kids on the block in terms of having a standalone, uh, data protection privacy practice and, and of course, they really were being led by two very well known individuals who are still at the very top of their game in. Eduardo Duran, who's a friend of the podcast, appeared in episode one, and Stuart Room, of course, as well, who again has had an absolutely stellar career. Um, so I can't imagine that there would have been a better place for you at that time. How did the opportunity come about at Fieldfisher? Did you, did you had you determined at this time that you wanted to go down that kind of route in privacy of data these very early days, or did he just sort of land that way?

Michelle Levin: [00:05:57] I wish I could say my career was sort of by design, but it's sort of fallen into place and really from a lot of factors that just outside my control. Um, so I yeah, applied for a training contract early 2000. I didn't think I'd even heard of data protection. We definitely didn't study it at university or think even law school. Maybe it was mentioned. Um, and then even through the training contract, data protection was probably one of the least popular seats. No one wanted it. It just wasn't something you went into back then. Um. But sort of why I ended up at Fieldfisher. I'd done lots of research. I'm sort of that person. I want to kind of have to look at everything and analyse all the options. And so when looking for training contracts and thinking, where might I go? I'd ruled out Magic circle firms just didn't feel they were a right fit for me. Kind of had gone to some assessments days and open days and just never that interested. But what really caught my attention was the niche practices at mid size firms. So Fieldfisher in particular had really strong practice media life sciences as well. So it was that breadth of practice at Fieldfisher. They also did six seats back then rather than think it was the usual four. So those extra two seats to try and try try other departments out. And I really didn't know where I wanted to go. I was thinking maybe medical negligence. At one point, life Sciences as IP. Um, and so when I got there I'm really gravitated towards those seats. I was really lucky I got to spend four months at MTV, which was the cool kid on the block back then, and that kind of introduced me to technology and commercial contracting.

Michelle Levin: [00:07:58] And so from there I then qualified into technology and but again, external forces, I think almost to the day that we qualified in my year was the date Lehman Brothers collapsed. So having trained through boom years, people went on skiing holidays. There were trainees did proof reading because there were so many of us overnight, kind of all that vanished. The world changed. Um, and so the technology department changed very quickly. And whereas I had spent a lot of my training contract, all my final seat in technology doing, we called it new media back then, but basically digital and internet was still new and shiny, and companies were still exploring how to how to be online. And I really wanted to do that work. And very quickly that dried up. And at the same time, privacy was still booming at Fieldfisher, and so started to shift towards doing bits and pieces of privacy work as a stopgap, really. And and it was very much going to do this. I want to find a new job somewhere else. Don't want to stay in privacy, not where I want to do. I want to do I want to do new media and just really fell in love with privacy. It was quite academic at the time. You got to use the law a lot to work out where a client could operate in that gray space. Back then it was the old Data Protection Act, and it was just fascinating. It was it was talking about technology as well, in a way that kind of hadn't really been engaged with. So, yeah, just fell in love over probably it probably took 6 to 8 months, maybe a year before I was like, no, I think this might be my future.

Anthony Brown: [00:09:39] Amazing. So I'm assuming then you will have. Did you work closely with both Eduardo and Stuart or how did it work?

Michelle Levin: [00:09:46] Yeah. So Stuart joined after me in the team. So it was Eduardo leading the team when I joined and they worked very closely with him. I shared an office for a long time with Stuart, which was hilarious. We had many funny occasions. Um, and then also had the great pleasure of working with Phil Lee because he also joined the team. So we just had such a stellar practice. It was so exciting to be on the team doing really cutting edge privacy work. I remember once working with Eduardo to draft it was the Bermudan privacy law or something absolutely ridiculous. So the opportunities were just fantastic. And also I had I was sent on a lot of comments, so I think I was sent to BBC at least twice. They went to BBC worldwide and the BBC, the public service. They very quickly got a taste for in-house life.

Anthony Brown: [00:10:45] Amazing. And what a stellar cast of privacy lawyers there. I mean, talk about kind of being in the right place at the right time. Um, amazing. So that really set you up for what was, you know, become a hugely successful career of your own. Um, so your, um, you, as you just mentioned, you went in-house, had lots of opportunities there. Did you, did you kind of I know you were at Fieldfisher for a few years, and then you decided you made a move. Actually, you moved to AS Watson, who many people know, one of the world's largest health and beauty retailers. And you moved there as a commercial and privacy counsel. Did you know early on, do you think that you wanted to move in house?

Michelle Levin: [00:11:25] Yeah. So having done MTV, then BBC twice, I then found the transition back to the law firm quite tricky. Um, you'd gone from sitting with the business having. People just coming up to your desk asking questions, not really caring whether you're a junior lawyer or a senior lawyer. You're a lawyer to them, and they you just need to help. And then to go back to the law firm and suddenly be in that environment where partners or senior associates have to review and sign off everything you do and sort of being more constrained. And I think for me, not understanding or not seeing where your advice went. So you write your advice note and then you never really get to see what the client does with it. I found that quite frustrating, and I probably need to give a huge shout out to both Stuart, Eduardo, Phil, in fact, any senior lawyer in the privacy team back then, because imagine I was a nightmare to manage. Like I had to deal with me now. I would hate it. Volscaonjust really thought way too much of myself. Um, but yeah. Then the opportunity for Watson came up. Um.

Anthony Brown: [00:12:36] Can I just ask you. Sorry, Michelle, to interject there. Just just about that. You just mentioned you felt you were bolshy and looking back, you know, you think you were a nightmare to manage. Was there a sense, because the world is very different now than the place where you first trained? Um, you know, it's essentially nearly 20 years ago. And as we know, you know, sorry, we know society has really moved on in many positive ways. Did did you feel at that time that you needed to acquire that kind of personality, maybe to, to, to, to be successful and to get heard? And, you know, as a female, because it was very male dominated for a long time.

Michelle Levin: [00:13:13] Um. I don't think it was probably more naivety than anything else. Um, as in, I was very. I've always been quite strong willed. I sort of had very thought I knew where I wanted to go, and I think it was more that rather than anything else. But there was, but certainly. Um. Certainly you did have. You were. There's I think there was less acceptance of kind of different personalities. There's nothing nothing against Fieldfisher here. I think just generally work has moved on. It was certainly as a trainee. There was definitely a way of doing things and you fitted into that mould and I cannot see kind of certainly the people coming up now that I have, I see in house across, across all walks of life, I sort of it is a very different atmosphere and different way of managing.

Anthony Brown: [00:14:16] Yeah. Much lighter touch perhaps.

Michelle Levin: [00:14:19] Yeah, I think so. Yeah.

Speaker3: [00:14:21] Yeah, yeah.

Anthony Brown: [00:14:22] Lighter touch and and more understanding and collaborative and all of these things.

Speaker3: [00:14:29] I think younger.

Michelle Levin: [00:14:29] People just know how to ask what they want, like louder and stronger, which is a really great thing. Like when I was entering the workforce, it was it was an expected way. And I think particularly as a junior lawyer, you were there to work as many hours as the firm requested and to do any task. There was. And you never question that because it was just how things were. And it's how everything has always been. And that was kind of it was the circle of life type thing. Whereas now I think certainly when you talk to like zennial Gen Zs or millennials, younger millennials, um, there's this great sense of questioning. And then also do we want to be working all these hours, like, is this the right thing for my life? Like, where do I want to be? And I think that's really exciting. Um.

Anthony Brown: [00:15:28] Absolutely. So you moved to in house, you went to AS Watson and you had a successful time there. So successful you actually approached by Aon to go and become a dedicated privacy counsel for them. So and we're talking ten years ago here. So sorry to keep talking about years, by the way, but we're talking ten years ago. Um, my point being that, you know, this is a number of years before GDPR coming into play, and it's fairly novel, I'd imagine. Well, I know full well because I was still working in this space back then. It was fairly not, well, very novel for businesses to have dedicated in-house privacy counsel. So, um, any sort of memories about how this came about and, and how perhaps ahead of the curve Aon were in what they were trying to do?

Michelle Levin: [00:16:21] Um, I remember. So it was Brad who had the again, my headstrong ways of think said no. 2 or 3 times and just kept saying, I don't want to work for insurance. Um, again, that headstrong, very narrow view of where I wanted my career to go that didn't fit in with that vision. And I remember going for a coffee with Brad, um, who basically just said, sort of set out the A on proposition. So huge global business. Um. Provides pensions to a huge proportion of the UK population and basically set out that. Think about all that data they have. So from pensions perspective from insurance, and it's the privacy team's role to set the rules as to how and why that can be used to really protect it. Be the guardians of that. And it was when that sort of clicked that I was going to be moving from, um, sort of health and beauty retailer that was slightly, probably cooler, um, to do marketing could do lots of interesting things, more tangible, um, because you could see the things that we were selling to actually being in a business. That data was the lifeblood. And it was that shift in mindset of realizing that actually, you don't need to be in the coolest industry, um, to have, like, this fulfilling career. It's almost. And in fact, for a privacy lawyer, what's important is how important is data to the business. And because then you become less of a cost center and more of a business enablement, you get to work more closely with the business.

Anthony Brown: [00:18:09] And during your time there, you must have done such a good job that you became the privacy director. Um, sorry. I know I'm embarrassing you here, Michelle. You don't don't want too much praise. But it's true. You know, you became the a mere privacy director, which, you know, at this stage, um, again, we're talking ahead of GDPR here. Um, you know, how did you find that step up and quite a quick step up as well. So, you know, managing a team, how was it to move to that seniority?

Michelle Levin: [00:18:39] It was definitely a challenge. And AON is such a big beast that um, you it was always hard to get your arms around it. Um, but again, like, I've been really fortunate that I've, I've had very supportive teams. Um, so it, it didn't really feel like a huge step up. It was more gradual, which was really nice. There wasn't some sort of yanking of that safety blanket. Um, but, um, we had such a great team at Ian. Um, the recruited a really great bunch of people. Just had such a laugh. Both in the privacy team. The wider legal team was was huge as well. And there's a great camaraderie. Um, and I think that was really where I first started to see the importance of both mentors in a role. I had a few people across the business who were really important and instrumental in sort of shaping directions, and how I kind of made that step up. And certainly at AON, it was the first time would be put in front of a board and have to explain the importance of privacy. Um, and. There's sort of nothing like that first time of being thrown in front of. Back then, it was a room full of middle aged white men as well. Um, and having to sort of explain and make a case for why you should get budget over all the other competing priorities, and certainly couldn't have done that without some key stakeholders who really bought into what I was trying to do, or we as the data privacy team and really help amplify those messages.

Anthony Brown: [00:20:18] So, you know, prior to GDPR coming into play and without the threat of these enormous fines for businesses, which obviously then made exec boards really sit up and really think about this very closely. What do you remember some of the, the, the sort of, uh, you know, sort of rationales or the sort of, you know, how you'd get things over the line from a privacy perspective? What were you having to describe to the business at about there's no fines necessarily, or large fines. What in those days was it more of a sort of a moral argument or what we should be doing?

Michelle Levin: [00:21:00] I, actually. I've never been a big fan of using the fining powers. Yes, they were really helpful in sort of 2016, 2018 and they grabbed a lot of attention. But when you're actually talking to someone trying to get something done, and in a business, the fines are so remote. And that's not what this person is concerned about, because most of the time they are concerned with doing today's job or hitting the next objective and delivering that project. So the fact that something could go wrong, that they still don't really understand what that is, and then a regulator might get involved, and then that regulator might decide to fine versus if they do or don't hit their their deadline, their immediate deadline, their job will be on the line or their team will be impacted. And I've always found that a difficult argument to sell when you actually want to make tangible change. I think, um, far more useful is. Understanding what the business drivers are. Often that's about reputation. So like the threat of reputation, like destroying reputation is a lot more powerful for most businesses. They trade on their reputation. And if that's destroyed, then it's their business gone. Or if they are prevented from using data in a certain way that's far more powerful than. The remote finding powers, which are very which are useful at the end of the line. But most people know that we should comply with the law, and it's sort of like, yes, yes, of course. So it's actually about moving from this is something we have to do to this is how we get it done and trying to make that transition.

Anthony Brown: [00:22:46] And I guess explaining that if we do this, it's not just that we're going to be within the regulations or the law, but actually our our clients, our customers are going to start really, um, you know, trusting us or the engagement with them. It can be used for good, real positive stuff.

Speaker3: [00:23:05] Yeah.

Michelle Levin: [00:23:06] And that's and every, every business is on a, on a journey on that, um, on that spectrum. So on privacy is actually a differentiator. Um, so we see it, we have really strong privacy practices and we use that as a competitive moat. And that's then really exciting because that's a whole different conversation to going back to like using those fines and those threats. Much more of a carrot. It's much more of a, um, really seen as, as a business enabler. Um, which is great.

Anthony Brown: [00:23:39] Absolutely. I mean, there's no doubt Onfido's an incredibly exciting business. And I guess I think you work with a lot of fintechs and, you know, but ultimately you use a huge amount of customer data because I'm sure a lot of people listening to this now will have be familiar with taking a selfie on their phone, uploading it, and having their, their ID verified, you know, almost instantly. And this is this is obviously the power of the technology that Onfido has. I'm going to slightly skip forward a bit here, because what I do know, Michel, is that you went to you actually after quite a period at Aon in a very senior role, then you moved to another global beauty company called Coty that's got over 70 brands across the globe, and you were actually lured there. Well, it sounds like it's a negative thing. You're actually the pull factor. There was essentially you were, you know, you you were going to be the, I think the global head of privacy there. And you know, this is round about I think the time that GDPR came into play there or thereabouts. And and I'm saying I'm going to slightly skip that because mean that was another step in your career. Moving on from Aon. Now your global head. That of course brings lots of other different additional joy and challenges. But then just as we started talking about Onfido, let's let's sort of move forward to that bit because this is present day for you. And I think, you know, what's really fascinating, actually, is that you were actually on maternity leave when you were approached about the role at Onfido and, um, you know, with good reason on Onfido. We're very keen to get you on board. And but of course, this was a really kind of, you know, unique time of your life. Um, and but you actually did make the move there. So can you just tell us a bit about how that all came about, please?

Michelle Levin: [00:25:38] Um, well, there was a really persistent recruiter who wouldn't leave me alone.

Speaker3: [00:25:45] Okay. Um.

Michelle Levin: [00:25:47] No. So I think we. So Evie was born in November. I think we might have first started talking in the January. So. January. February I think so, sort of. Still not really out of those first few months (are a) blur and I think probably quite quickly dismissed it and said, no, not kind of not interested, can't, can't like, can't get my head back into a space where I'd even start talking to someone. Um, and I think you provided some really great counsel of like, just meet with them, have a chat. It was during Covid, so it made everything easier because everything was via zoom. And so it was sort of. That less of it broke down a barrier of oh my gosh, I have to somehow find childcare and somehow have to get dressed. Um, so I think that made it a lot easier to make that initial jump to start a conversation. Um, and the team at Onfido are, well, from that from that point. And then they, they are today incredibly flexible. Um, really kind of. Family focus and kind of put put caring needs. Not first obviously, but are just very adaptable and flexible. So made that having those initial conversations really easy and. I think from there it was a. I was sort of bitten a little bit because talking to Onfido as a privacy lawyer, you've got biometrics, you've got AI, you've got a lot of sensitive data. They're doing really exciting things, but also they really treat privacy as a core business principle. So it's that not only do you have all this cutting edge technology, but you already have a seat at the table. And that I think is quite a rare find. So yeah, we sort of went from there, went through the interview process and juggling between nap times. I can't remember how many interviews I had with a baby on my lap crying. And just it was it was it was interesting, but everyone was so accommodating and it made that feel much easier and more natural.

Anthony Brown: [00:28:08] It was amazing process to be involved in, actually, and I obviously remember it well, and not least because it was during the pandemic and the world had just been turned upside down. But I mean, it was a match made in heaven from from the get go. I remember thinking at the time how, you know, modern and forward thinking onfido were with their approach. You know, there's businesses over the years that although they'd never admit it, I wonder if they have made decisions based on the circumstances of perhaps a female who's in the interview process and what their circumstances might be. But Onfido were incredibly clear that you were the person they wanted, and that whether you were on maternity leave or how it was all going to pan out, they were prepared to wait for you. And yes, I remember, I remember you actually calling me and saying, do you think they'll mind me having. In fact, I think it was somebody in the US. Do you think the this senior individual, mind if I've got my baby on my, my lap. And I asked them and they said absolutely not. No. Absolutely fine. So because you know, it's a huge discussion point, increasingly and probably not enough is discussed around this. I know some amazing young female lawyers that have been lost, sadly, to their careers in law over the last few years because the demands of the role and the demands of parenthood are such that the most obvious answer as a family usually is that. The mum will stay at home and you know, the you know, the father, or whether it be another mother or father or however it works, you know, we'll we'll go out and, you know, be the main earner. So how how have you find found it. Michelle. Are you able just to share a little bit with us? You know how you juggle your life, how you juggle the work? It's such a demanding, busy role at Onfido. For you. It's a global role. And.

Michelle Levin: [00:29:59] I think.

Speaker3: [00:30:02] Uh.

Michelle Levin: [00:30:03] There is no easy. There's no easy answer. Um. Like my husband, my husband and I, we both have to juggle. We we both kind of split childcare and everything else, which I know I'm that's I'm really lucky in that respect. Um, but I don't think you can do it another way. You definitely can't do everything. And there is this fallacy that women can have it all. Yes, we can, but you need to have support structures in place because we're not superhuman. Well, not all of us are superhuman. I definitely know a few superhuman women that are just phenomenal. Um, but. We're we're in a fortunate position that we can have full time child care. So if he goes to nursery longer than some people work. So she's there eight till six. She loves it. She's really happy. She's settled quite quickly. So that also made that transition, um, really or much easier. And again, having lots of working women who are in the same position and talking about it a lot and really sort of saying that particularly for a girl, I think it's important to see working mums and strong women and you're yes, it is really hard to leave them, but you're also setting really important, um, lessons for that next generation of you can go out to work and you are kind of you are holding down a really good job, whilst also sort of trying to be as present as possible. Might not always be the case, but um, certainly for me it it's. I. Yeah, I couldn't see doing it another way.

Michelle Levin: [00:31:49] I love working. I'm really fortunate to have a great job, really like find really fascinating in a company that does allow flexibility to kind of balance those two things and think as well. And I hope this is changing. I'm being able to bring you whatever you say, like bring your full self to work. So I'm really glad that on Fido and maybe also the time we're in and enables me to go to work, be a lawyer, but also talk, talk about being a mum like I can't could not see myself in an environment where you had to have this split personality and that you were forced to not talk about your your child and to have these two personas that never shall meet. And I think I would find that really challenging. And whether that's because I joined on video as a new mum and so didn't ever have the old comparison. I was never Michelle Pre-children there, so no one knew what I was like before children. So they they took me with sort of thing. And so there was no comparison, whether for me because I think women, we all compare ourselves to the best version, often quite negative, negatively. And so being able to start a new job as a new mum and kind of work all these things out with onfido, with the colleagues and the legal team who are incredibly supportive and just a really great bunch. And yeah, it's just made made that transition much easier.

Speaker3: [00:33:24] Yeah.

Anthony Brown: [00:33:24] And imagine that feeling of starting a new role and knowing that everyone knows you as you are and the support networks there, and you're being set up for success and there's no judgement or anything. It just must have been, well, I remember when you joined, it was liberating for you, you know, I think. From people. I'm not necessarily saying you hear, but you know, ladies that I've spoken to over the years who you know are off on maternity leave and then it can be quite a lonely place at times, and they start doubting how they're going to be when they get back and how, you know, have I, have I, you know, things move so quickly in the privacy world as we know. Have I lost my edge and all this sort of stuff. So you've, you know, to make things work, you have to have all those components. I think that you've, you've just explained and described. Yeah.

Michelle Levin: [00:34:11] And I wish I knew who it was. One of my friends. So you get obviously you get so much advice when you're whether you're pregnant, whether you mum and going back to work. And I obviously spoke to a lot of people about it and weighing up, do I stay in a job that I'm comfortable with? I've got a proven track record. And if I kind of. Can I give 100% to the job? They at least have this kind of this view of, well, this won't be forever. Like I've got, I've got yeah, it's the track record. And a lot of people said, yeah, don't rock the boat. Go back, go into what? You know, it's more comfortable. You don't know what's going to happen, keep some some stability. And one of my friends and if they're listening like, thank you and let me know if it was you just said no. Can't think of a word that I'm allowed to say on a podcast. Nevermind that. And when you start a new job, you don't have those. You don't have those comparisons. Like, you will never be able to work as hard as you used to, or most people can never work as hard as you used to. And you and the company, or probably mostly you, will always be comparing yourself to that old person. And that's, I think, one of the struggles. And they just said, just do it like you can set your own boundaries. You can you can set your own new kind of persona up. And it was that advice that kind of made me think, okay, go for it. Um, and yeah, I think really important advice and something you don't really hear. Yeah.

Anthony Brown: [00:35:49] Yeah. Well, particularly as well, because as we said, the world was upside down at that period of time. And people, you know, if anything were looking for stability and, you know, just something to cling on to because everything was so uncertain. So I mean, it's obviously kind of testament to your character as well, Michelle. And going back to your Bolshie days, you know, obviously being carved out your personality in the, in the basement doing filing and stuff as well. So, you know, everyone's getting an insight here into to what makes you tick. And it's really, really impressive. Um, so everyone's obviously talking about AI at the moment. And obviously on Friday, you know, you're in the coalface of all of this space because their products are AI powered. And what's what's your view on, um, just general view firstly on AI and how companies can embrace it, you know, for good and and crucially, safely as well. Um, what's your general thoughts?

Speaker3: [00:36:47] Um.

Michelle Levin: [00:36:48] So much being said about this. Um. I'm going to stay away from the existential threats because who knows? Um. Let's hope. Let's hope we work that out. Um. But I think important in sort of importantly is as some of the laws are going in the direction of some of the laws that are going, um, it's about having the right governance in place. So there is so much potential in all these technologies, both good and bad. So I think it's really important that, um, we harness it in the right way. So whether you call that ethical AI or AI governance, kind of pick your terminology, but sort of principles that are very aligned to GDPR principles, privacy principles. So um, fairness, transparency and explainability. Um. Its automated decisions and making sure that there is control in some sort of human control around it, I think are all really critical. And it also means it's a really interesting space for privacy lawyers, because we have worked in this with these terminologies, with these principles for so long that it does enable us to then apply this to AI. And through GDPR, we have got and before had experience of deploying big frameworks, big governance frameworks throughout organisations. And it's really sort of doing that in the right way. And what is right for Onfido is going to be very different from another company. I'm having lots of conversations at the mument because I'm Vidos, an AI company we have been for ten years. So our a lot of people across the business are sort of saying like, we've been doing this for ten years, what's changed? And and it's not the way we are using this technology that's changed. It's the world in which we're operating in. So a lot of times or previously, AI's just been in the background, and we've lived with it every day in many, many technologies and not thought about it. But with generative AI and ChatGPT, it's really kind of grabbed the public consciousness and lawmakers as well for the right reasons. And we are having these very important debates. And what is the direction of travel that this has to go in?

Anthony Brown: [00:39:19] Yeah, I mean, it's never far from anyone's lips at the mument in the privacy world. That's that's for sure. But I mean, wow, I mean, for you, you know, amazing timing being at Fieldfisher, you know, amazing kind of mentors, leaders, partners to work with, as we said, with Eduardo and Stuart, you know, at a time when digital new media, everything was coming in and and your career is just sort of well, you've just gone from, you know, one exciting role to another, essentially. And I mean, look at where you're at now. You know, it's it's fascinating for you. And I is as I said, it's everyone's talking about and the whole spectrum, the amount of opportunity that is going to open up over the coming years, the sort of experience that you have at Onfido is just, well, unique and and fascinating. So, um, Michelle, just we're nearly finished now, but what what would you say based on your experiences now and knowledge, if somebody is similar to you, but going back to the days when you were starting training as a lawyer or just trying to think what they want to do as their career, what what's the sort of single biggest piece of advice you think you'd give to somebody now?

Michelle Levin: [00:40:33] I'm not wanting to fall into the same trap of my dad and say, don't be a lawyer. Um oh. I think you can't ignore Ai and the impact it's going to have on careers. Um, I'd say that that's sort of, I think, important to consider. And we don't know where it's going to go. Um, but. I think it's. I don't think any lawyer now can ignore technology, because whether you are a corporate lawyer and sort of doing M&A activities, increasingly everything is going to involve data or some sort of technology because it is the future and they are going to be the foundations that businesses are built on. Um, so I think it is really like stay up to date with what's going on, because that is going to within technology because that's going to help you not only kind of. Put you in the best possible position. But also increasingly as lawyers, we are going to have to use technology, though, whether that is using AI tools to do research to help us kind of get to the right question. And there's already loads of drafting tools out there that is going to make the sort of drafting contracts easier. And we are all going to have to use technology in a lot, in ways that I think previously we haven't thought about. Um. And then probably be more open than I was and don't know where your career is going to go. Um, Natalie, don't be so adverse to different industries. I've. I've been really fortunate to move to many different industries. Think I've taken something really important from each one. Um, and and. Yeah. Yeah.

Speaker3: [00:42:24] That's it. Well, that three.

Anthony Brown: [00:42:26] Three big pieces of advice. So? So thank you. And all. All really relevant. And and you know the piece again really interesting to hear your thoughts on that that people. Yeah. If you're moving into law at this stage you really want to be thinking about that and the potential and where things could lead. So for for a bit of fun, Michelle, I always ask people this who would be your two ultimate dinner guests?

Michelle Levin: [00:42:53] Oh, I've gone rogue, so I've got three.

Anthony Brown: [00:42:57] Not again.

Speaker3: [00:42:58] Yeah, sorry. Three.

Michelle Levin: [00:43:01] So Margaret Atwood would be my first. I listened to a podcast with her, and I just think she's phenomenal. She's just so fascinating. And how she wrote, um, uh, The Handmaid's Tale and The Testaments just really interesting at a time that really saw a lot of the problems that society and women are facing. And I think, um, certainly when I first read The Handmaid's Tale, it was like, oh, this wouldn't happen. And yet when you see what's going on across the world and women's rights being kind of withdrawn, like it's quite scary. And definitely Margaret would love her at a table. Um, I then think then wanted someone funny and thought Phoebe Waller-Bridge because again, she's just awesome. Um, and I think she was have some great stories from Hollywood as well. So try and get her drunk and, uh, spill some beans.

Speaker3: [00:43:59] Um.

Michelle Levin: [00:44:00] And then the third is really to balance out because we'd want some male company in the mix as well and thought Hugh Jackman, because again, just very funny. Interesting. Um, I'm sure would be well up for telling some tales as well.

Speaker3: [00:44:14] Yeah.

Anthony Brown: [00:44:15] Very good. And maybe some eye candy there as well. Exactly. Yeah, yeah, everyone was thinking it, but thought I'd say it.

Speaker3: [00:44:22] So, uh.

Anthony Brown: [00:44:24] All some. Oh, brilliant. Michelle. Well, I'm sure that'll be a fascinating dinner anyway. And I'd just like to say thank you so much for joining us. It's been really, really insightful, really fascinating. I really hope our listeners can take some stuff away with them. I'm sure they will. So, so thank you very much. On behalf of me and everyone. And to our listeners, thank you for tuning in. And, you know, we'll be discussing more journeys through privacy very soon. Bye for now.

Speaker4: [00:44:53] Goodbye.

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