Carol Feuerriegel is a member of the InfoGovANZ International Council, Intel Leader and Group Manager of Enterprise Information and Knowledge for Inland Revenue NZ. She is an expert in information management practice with extensive experience working with Australian and New Zealand organisations as their lead on enterprise information management, information governance and enterprise information architecture.
Carol’s experience spans both public and private sector industries including higher education, local government, engineering & project management, health & medicine, banking & financial services, law, energy and transportation.
Carol holds Master’s degrees in Information Management and in Information Architecture, with Bachelor’s degrees in Library and Information Science, and an Honours degree in Sociology.
Carol is currently completing doctoral research with Victoria University of Wellington in the area of Information Governance, Privacy and Decision-making with a research focus on understanding the relationships between information governance as a component of corporate governance and the data and information required to enable robust delegated decision-making in large organisations.
Tell us about yourself?
I am a dual citizen of Australia and New Zealand and I currently live in regional South Australia and work full-time remotely in New Zealand.
I started work in libraries not long after I left school. I completed an undergraduate degree with Honours in Library and Information Science and worked in a range of public, private, and academic libraries. I became involved in corporate information management and records management when I started working for a mining company during the resources boom and subsequently completed a Master of Information Management. After working as an Enterprise Information Architect and Information Governance Manager at Queensland Rail, I followed up with a Master of Information Architecture a few years later. Along the way I also completed the ARMA Information Governance Professional certification (IGP).
What led you into the world of Information Governance (IG)?
I have worked in a variety of roles in a variety of different industries and organisations in my career. I love the flexibility I have as an information professional, but I also realize the reason my skills are sought-after is because organisations in every industry are struggling with the same issues - How to maximise the value of data and information while minimizing the risks. Responsible and effective information management is an uphill battle unless there are foundational elements in place that enable an organisation to understand what data and information they create, store, and use and there are the right mechanisms in place to make informed decisions about its management – without these foundations it is a losing battle. I don’t like to lose! So, I started to research and develop the IG tools I needed to do my job well. This included defining the key enabling capabilities that organisations need to have in place, what instruments they need to effectively govern data and information, and what accountabilities and decision rights are needed to enable the right actions to be taken.
Tell us about your current role in IG?
My current role is the Intelligence Leader for Enterprise Information and Knowledge (Kaihautū Mōhiotanga in te reo Maori) with Inland Revenue New Zealand (IR). IR has about 5000 staff in locations across New Zealand. Every citizen or resident of New Zealand is a customer of Inland Revenue. In addition to being the primary revenue agency for the NZ government, IR also administer social policy programs such as Child Support, Student Loans and Kiwsaver (the kiwi version of superannuation). I have been with IR for about three years reporting to the Deputy Commissioner for Information and Intelligence Services. I have a few different teams reporting to me – Information Governance, Information & Knowledge Management (which includes records management) and Information Sharing. In December 2021, the Digital Content Management team which manages IR’s web sites and online tax system will also join us. I lead a wonderful and diverse bunch of information professionals who very ably manage operational information management processes for Inland Revenue while I focus on information strategy and on building our information governance capability.
What pressures are organisations facing to ensure IG best practices?
Modern organisations are facing enormous pressures these days. There is significantly more information in our landscape and it’s no longer captured in old-style information systems. ‘Old-style’ in the sense that the data being captured is structured or semi structured and therefore easier to manage. Many of the systems corporate and public service entities now use are democratised – employees have a lot more freedom to capture and create information and save it onto corporate infrastructure through collaborative technologies. The introduction of social computing like M365 into the business landscape has also meant that organisations not only have to manage the information that their employees are creating in their formal IT systems as part of business processes; they must also maintain oversight over collaboration spaces and ad-hoc online conversations. This means they must focus on building information capability and awareness in their employees through training, education and experiential learning programmes, so their employees know how to ‘do the right thing’ with the organisation’s data and their customer’s information.
The range of data, information, and knowledge that organisations are accountable for is huge and the governance issues are equally huge – and multi-dimensional. They range from the basic supply and quality issues that every organisation must address to get the ‘right information to the right people at the right time, and the whole-of-lifecycle activities which ensure that the organisation’s information environment isn’t complex and bloated with redundant and out-of-date information, to the dynamic challenges of data protection and information ethics. Responding to these pressures requires robust foundational IM capability; and answering the emerging questions around the responsible uses of data and information requires strategic thinking and mature future-focused information governance. There is a huge opportunity for information governance practitioners to deliver real value and make a significant contribution by building their organisation’s information governance muscle.
How have you adapted your career since COVID 19?
All my previous qualifications I have completed remotely via distance learning through Charles Sturt University (NSW) while working full time– so working remotely as I do now is actually ‘my happy place’! However, in 2016 I was thrilled to join the PhD Programme at Victoria University in Wellington ‘in person’, where my research focus has been on developing an enterprise Information Governance framework and the tools needed to support effective information governance. Unfortunately, COVID and family commitments have made ‘in person’ participation impossible, but I am continuing with my research from South Australia, working with some very talented people (Doug Lambert and the IG team) at Inland Revenue to road-test the thinking and the tools in the real world which has enriched and accelerated my research enormously.
With the rapidly evolving technologies and digital disruption, where do you see IG heading in the next few years?
What experience has taught me is that with the right Information Governance tools in place an organisation is no longer perpetually in crisis mode, responding to spot-fires like security breaches or compliance failures, with inadequate understanding of either their business opportunities or their risk position. Technological change is a given so organisations need to be able to adapt in response to these changes but to also understand the principles they need to adhere to ensure they can realize value without creating unacceptable risk. Information governance is fundamental to effective corporate governance and social responsibility which requires a clear line of sight for ownership and accountability of the information assets and practices supporting the business and shaping business decisions. A robust IG framework enables an organisation to respond to changes in the external environment in a deliberate way. Emerging issues like privacy, consumer and indigenous data rights, and information ethics (the ‘Just because we can, should we?’ questions) can be discussed and addressed proactively (instead of reactively) by the right people at the right level in the organisation.
Do you have any tips for someone starting out in IG?
I think it’s important to recognise that data, information, and knowledge are all elements of a continuum. The nature of the transition is that data becomes information, information becomes both tacit and explicit knowledge for the people who work with it. Whether it is a resource (raw data) or an asset (information or knowledge), each has different characteristics; each need different management techniques but the governance an organisation applies must be consistent and principle-based for all these elements or else you run the risk of solving a problem for one element that either diminishes the value of or amplifies the risks with one of the other elements.
Is there anything you would do differently if you were starting out your career now?
Not a thing! I have loved every minute of it, and I look forward to taking on the challenges that things like the hybrid workplace, artificial intelligence, data sovereignty and algorithmic transparency will bring. A career mantra I would memorize though is ‘Information is not technology’ - if the organisation you are working for can’t tell the difference – find another organisation!
A fun fact about yourself?
Hmmm, well it’s fun for me! I have recently become obsessed with sea kayaking. I spend every spare moment either paddling, buying kayaks (I am up to four!) or reading books about kayaking. It’s the only legitimate exercise I know that I can do sitting down!
Why is important to be a member of InfoGovANZ?
I love InfoGovANZ as it gives me the opportunity to connect with other people who are as passionate as I am about the role information plays in people’s lives – for good and for bad. There is such a great range of expertise and knowledge in InfoGovANZ members, and they are generous in sharing their knowledge freely. I think it’s a great professional community and I always look forward to participating in our conversations.