From Cochlear Implants to Digital Health Tech Information Governance Specialist
Georgina embarked on her role as an Information Governance Specialist with 8foldGovernance earlier this year, where she is also undertaking her Level 4 apprenticeship in Data Protection and Information Governance, facilitated by the Specialist Hub.
Georgina’s path to 8foldGovernance is a story marked by her own remarkable transformation, which interestingly enough, was influenced by digital health technology.
Georgina was born profoundly deaf in both ears, relying on a cochlear implant in her right ear to hear. She was among the early recipients of this groundbreaking technology, receiving her implant in September 1996, when she was just two and a half years old.
At that time, the medical community had reservations about the longevity and effectiveness of this innovation, but fast forward 25 years, and it continues to transform her life.
Thanks to the cochlear implant, Georgina can communicate like a person with normal hearing. Her disability is not always apparent and while she communicates effortlessly, hearing through a cochlear implant differs from typical hearing and requires time to adapt. Georgina doesn’t solely rely on the implant, which isn’t 100% effective; she also relies on social cues such as lipreading and body language.
Cochlear implants consist of two parts: an internal device implanted in the head during surgery, and an external device which is fitted up to four weeks later, and requires periodic updates over the years.
In her earlier years, Georgina’s external device included a bulky battery pack, making it necessary to wear a special vest. However, technological advancements have since transformed this into a discreet device resembling a hearing aid that fits comfortably behind her ear. A notable difference between a cochlear implant and a hearing aid is the implant’s magnetic connection to the internal device placed just behind her ear.
A passionate advocate for improving awareness and education
Georgina aims to bridge the gap between those with hearing disabilities and those without. In the UK, hearing loss affects 12 million people and globally, approximately 466 million are affected. Georgina envisions a world where more individuals take the time to educate themselves about hearing disabilities and their impact.
She believes that raising awareness of hearing disabilities can yield positive results for patients – empowering their wider community, including families, employers, networks etc, helping to nurture a more inclusive environment.
Celebrating National Inclusion Week
During National Inclusion Week, Georgina took centre stage to celebrate and champion inclusivity within the workplace. Her presence and advocacy serve as a poignant reminder for both employers and employees to reflect on their ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion, highlighting the importance of fostering a truly inclusive environment.
In an interview led by the Specialist Hub, Georgina opened up about her experience, sharing her personal and professional journey. Thanks to the Specialist Hub, we’re excited to share this with you here too:
Can you tell us a bit about your journey as an Information Governance Specialist and your role at 8foldGovernance, especially in the context of National Inclusion Week?
“Since joining 8foldGovernance in May 2023 as an Information Governance Specialist, I have established a strong reputation for helping our clients attain their Data Security and Protection Toolkit (DSPT) goals, in addition to guiding them through the requirements for the Digital Technology Assessment Criteria (DTAC). Our clients vary from technology start-ups to small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Some are members of the Academic Health Science Network (AHSN), helping to improve the provision of direct care and health technology in the UK. My experience assisting private and public sector organisations to meet data protection regulations and adopt best practice, has been combined with my background in the NHS to provide unmatched compliance support.
“8foldGovernance has been very encouraging of my career goals and supportive of my needs. The team ensures that I have the tools needed to succeed and being deaf is not a hindrance to my role. In fact, in some ways, it is a superpower as my honed listening skills and considerate nature help facilitate building good relationships with my colleagues and clients. 8foldGovernance is a great place to work, and they are committed to building an inclusive organisation to support the development of their employees and clients.”
How did you become interested in information governance, and what motivated you to pursue an apprenticeship in this field?
“Throughout my career, I have worked in various industries where data security and protection were, to some degree, pivotal to my roles. Through a serendipitous meeting, I found out that you could have a fulfilling career specialising in data protection and information governance. Then, when the opportunity arose to join the first cohort of the data protection and information governance apprenticeship, I seized it. I saw the apprenticeship as a way to develop the knowledge and skills needed to help shape my career going forward. I am also passionate about human rights, so I am thrilled to play a small part in supporting work undertaken to uphold the human right to privacy.”
In what ways has your apprenticeship at The Specialists Hub supported your personal and professional growth in the context of National Inclusion Week?
“Through the apprenticeship, I have been exposed to a multitude of different opportunities, which have allowed me to grow both personally and professionally. The most impactful opportunity was that I was able to attend the Information Records Management Society (IRMS) Conference in May 2023 on a bursary. Without the professional development workshop provided by the apprenticeship, I would not have heard about this opportunity. The conference was also inclusive as the team went above and beyond to ensure that I was able to make the most of the conference from an accessibility viewpoint, and as a new professional to the industry. They put measures in place to ensure I was able to hear all the talks and learn from the inspiring professionals in attendance.”
Looking ahead, what are your aspirations and goals as you continue your journey in information governance?
“I would like to develop best practice for ensuring that training and awareness programmes are accessible to all as data protection and information governance is everyone’s responsibility. Ensuring training and awareness programmes are fully inclusive will help organisations uphold their compliance requirements. I am passionate about this as I know how frustrating it can be when you’re on a training course and the provider hasn’t taken the time to understand your accessibility needs. Additionally, I would like to develop a portfolio of public speaking engagements to develop my skills in this area and to share my experiences in the industry.”
As someone who has progressed in their career through an apprenticeship, what advice would you give to others looking to pursue a career in information governance or a related field, especially during National Inclusion Week?
“I am aware that there are many limitations to disabled people achieving employment, and I have been very lucky throughout my career (both professional and educational) to have had the support of friends, family, and mentors. With the support of these individuals, I was given the confidence to seize any opportunities that came my way and not let my ‘deafness’ stop me. If you don’t try, you’ll never know if you are capable. Thus, my advice would be to believe in yourself, go for the opportunities, and apply for the apprenticeship or that job. In addition, find your people—the individuals who are willing to take the time to support you and believe in you. I am very grateful for the experiences I’ve had throughout my life and for the support 8foldGovernance and the Specialist Hub has provided me in my career development.”