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Get to Know Us: Meet Compliance Manager Catherina Schneider-Nissen

Photo of DocuWare Compliance Manager

DocuWarians is a blog feature that introduces you to the people behind the product. In this post, we're highlighting Compliance Manager Catherina Schneider-Nissen. 

My tasks and responsibilities at DocuWare are…

I am DocuWare’s compliance manager. My job is to make sure that we do business in an appropriate and legal way - sometimes the rules surprise or dismay my colleagues. That’s because the new training and standard operating procedures I set up, create additional work outside their field of expertise.

GDPR banner on blue backgroundWhen I started at DocuWare, I was the first one in my role. So, I had to build everything from scratch. This was very exciting for me as I could choose how to develop each policy and procedure – or so I thought. I even read a few books on how to implement a new compliance management system, how to properly set it up, and what to consider. But as everybody who has put any type of management system into practice will tell you, (as they laugh out loud) … it does not really work that way. Dealing with GDPR hit me right in the face when I arrived… so I forgot the books and decided to make data protection my first priority.

Silver whistle on blue cordLater on, I addressed other issues like corruption prevention THE - compliance classic and established a code of conduct I am honestly proud of. There are still sections that need improvement, but the compliance management system is now an accurate, official reference for our company. We developed internal guidelines, completed annual revisions of them and created a whistle-blowing system and compliance training. That makes me sleep quite well at night until, of course, the next legislator comes up with a new idea for a great new law that needs implementing …

How did your background (professional experience, education) prepare you for this role?

Regulatory compliance componentsI majored in business administration at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich at a time when – at least in Europe – compliance was still at its very beginnings. So, the subject was introduced to me later when I worked in the Bundesbank, the banking supervisory authority and got a first glimpse of compliance by “watching” implementations at the banks I supervised. At the time, I was not sure whether I liked what I saw or not because compliance management at banks goes far beyond what “normal” companies need to set up.

I found out that compliance management was what I wanted to do when I worked for an energy trading company and joined the newly founded compliance team. My former boss and I implemented the compliance management system together. I learned a lot from her, and I am still grateful for the experiences I had there. So, building compliance management from scratch (again) was not new to me but doing it solo is a totally different story because you are responsible for everything. On the other hand, you also get all the credit for your achievements.

If I had to choose another career path it would be ...

Tools on a wooden boardIf college had not worked out for me, I would have become a carpenter. I love wood and creating things with it.

In my free time I …

If there really is kid-free time, I am always slightly shocked at first and then very quickly need to think of what I want to do. I usually end up swimming, reading or gardening.

I’ve got some old furniture in my garage that I would like to refurbish. I bought the relevant tools and equipment the other day, but I am waiting for that shocking feeling of having free time to start work on these projects.

Aerial view of Lubeck GermanyI also love traveling. I just visited a friend who lives near the Baltic Sea. We had a great time visiting some of the old Hanseatic cities on the coast like Lübeck, Wismar and Rostock and of course the beaches. These cities were home to members of the Hanseatic League, an influential trade association that thrived from the 13th to the 16th century. Much of the architecture has been maintained and the cities are steeped in history.

My favorite quote or motto is ...

If life gives you lemons, add vodka.

You just gotta make the best out of things. Life is too short for anything else.

I’d like readers to know that ...

Compliance managers are usually only thought of as the messengers of bad news (like the requirement for stricter data protection policies or corruption prevention training). We are also very nice people.

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