Today is International Women's Day and what a great day to honor one of many great women in our AIIM community. Meet Jessica Marlette, an Information Governance Counsel with an impressive resume as well as an active vessel of the WIIM community's success. If you have not connected with Jessica, please introduce yourself here.
Name Jessica Marlette, Esq., CIP
Position Information Governance Counsel
Company White & Case LLP
Where do you live?
How long have you worked in information management?
I have been in the information management field for nearly a decade now. I graduated law school when the economy tanked so decided to pursue a Master’s in Library & Information Science. I spent the next almost four years working in conflicts at an international law firm. Then, the global law firm, White & Case, opened a Tampa office and a position in Knowledge Management (KM) was available; it was the perfect avenue considering my educational background. I have been with White & Case for a little over six years now and transitioned from a pure KM role to Records and Information Governance (IG). Of course, I still wear my KM hat as I oversee the Firm’s Knowledge Bank. Many view KM and IG to be at odds with each other with competing interests; though that can be true in many ways, I am fortunate to be in the unique position to raise awareness about the synergies because both KM and IG depend on proper information classification.
What does your work entail? Do you have company support? How are you helping drive the goals of your office through your work?
I wear a lot of hats – maybe too many. In addition to overseeing the Knowledge Bank, I oversee the Firm’s Content Governance Team. I always tell people I have the best team on the face of the planet and it’s the absolute truth; they rise to every challenge and constantly exceed my expectations (anyone who knows me knows that’s a high bar). I also advise on and develop policies, procedures, and best practices to further the Firm’s information governance strategy. My team and I are responsible for developing and implementing content management strategies to both protect and leverage the firm’s information assets.
Many law firms have struggled with IG having a seat at the table; more often than not, IG was an afterthought thus forcing IG professionals to be in a constant reactive state. The tides have changed on this front and there are many reasons why. At White & Case, the Records & Information Governance (RIG) team is currently within the Technology department. We’re also now a critical and required part of the vendor intake process. Gone are the days of finding out after-the-fact; now, we proactively are able to assess the information governance capabilities of new products at the outset, identify any potential risks, and mandate any necessary compensating controls. The integration with the Technology team been an ideal alignment and has allowed us to advance from “piecemeal proactivity” toward “habitual proactivity” (for another article on the topic of proactivity in IG, check out What Do COVID-19 and IG Have in Common? Piecemeal Proactivity).
What has been the biggest success in your career in information management?
The biggest success I’ve had is advancing IG awareness within the Firm. I previously served as Interim Director and in that role was able to obtain sign-off on some policy changes that were long overdue. In sync with the policy changes, I launched the Firm’s first-ever Records & Information Governance (RIG) awareness campaign and it’s now an annual event. And, in 2020 I helped launch a global, quarterly RIG educational series called “RIG Your Info” focusing on key topics like content governance, email management, privacy, retention, and (of course) the legal and ethical obligations around properly managing information.
With respect to my overall career success, I have been very fortunate to climb the ladder relatively quickly. Be sure to attend the “Dr. Goodhead, your desire to become America's first woman in space will shortly be fulfilled” AIIM Conference session on April 28th at 11:35 AM ET where I and the rest of the Women in Intelligent Information Management Leadership Council (WIIM LC) will share our career journeys and top career tips.
What’s your current biggest work challenge?
IG is always an adventure – a seemingly never-ending list of projects and constant education and awareness, especially with the constantly evolving landscape of privacy laws and regulations – so not much has changed there. My biggest new work challenge is working from home; it has been wonderful in many ways, and I’ve accomplished so much more than I would have in the office. That being said, I’m honestly bad about taking breaks and need to get better at walking away from my computer. It’s more difficult to do when you don’t have the physical separation of work and home.
What does Intelligent Information Management mean to you?
Information is everywhere and, depending on the maturity of your organization’s IG program, it may still be unstructured or in silos. Simply, IIM is being able to truly capitalize on information by leveraging the appropriate people, processes, and technology to ensure everything is stored in the right places and used in the right ways. Put into practice, it’s using AI-type technologies to better capture, use, and analyze information, manage any risks associated with that information, and ultimately bring in more business.
What are the top 3 things you are looking to get from your AIIM membership?
I am actually going to answer the top 3 benefits I have already received from my AIIM Membership. Networking and obtaining my CIP certification are two of them. The third is the amazing experience I have had helping build the Women in Intelligent Information Management (WIIM) group and getting to meet so many amazing women.
I am now Immediate Past Chair of the WIIM Leadership Council and have been involved with WIIM since we first started, having had the opportunity to serve as Co-Chair and then Chair this past year. Over the last year, we worked hard to meet our WIIM group’s needs by offering over 15 sessions covering a wide range of topics such as overcoming death by email, adaptable leadership during a pandemic, and an entire series on putting your best foot forward in this new virtual world we’re living in today.
I am excited to see the WIIM Community continue to grow and help advance women in information management. My most memorable moment was when I really saw the WIIM Community come together at the AIIM Conference in 2020 to help someone who was about to lose her job; everyone tapped into their networks and offered advice, connections, and reviews of her resume. It’s important that we, as women, have a network we can turn to for advice and support…and WIIM is a great platform for that!
What’s one thing you’re looking forward to in 2021?
As with everyone else, I’m looking forward to the return of some level of normalcy and am optimistic that it will happen this year. Though there has been a lot of good that has come out of the pandemic and a lot of companies have now realized the benefits of remote working, as humans, we still have a need for in-person connections.
What is your end goal and how do you think we can help you achieve it?
I’ve learned a long time ago, there is no real, end goal. Goals are constantly changing, and they should be, as you evolve professionally and personally. Sometimes your path changes, sometimes voluntarily, sometimes not. I had always planned on practicing at a big law firm, and though I am in a way, it’s definitely not the path I originally envisioned. Even within IG, cybersecurity and privacy are huge topics and increasing concerns for organizations of every type all around the world. eDiscovery was a relatively new topic and I took the first-ever course on it at the University of Florida when I was in law school. So, one may start out in Records, the transition to IG, and ultimately end up in Privacy. As these changes happen, whether industry-driven or otherwise, it’s important to be connected with organizations like AIIM to keep on top of trends, to learn about best practices, and, probably most importantly, to network to build relationships since you never know where your career journey is going to take you.#MemberSpotlight