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Nicola Mallender-Ward

Career Path: Senior Information Governance Specialist, NHS Digital
Location: Leeds, UK

I completed my undergraduate degree in English and joined the NHS doing administrative work. I then moved into health research as a Research Ethics Committee Manager which introduced me to health data and the importance of privacy and ethics in the world of research. For the last seven years I’ve worked in various roles within the Information Governance team at NHS Digital - dealing with data protection, freedom of information and confidentiality. I completed various professional exams in the field and worked my way up to a senior post within the team.

What are you doing now?Nicola Mallender-Ward

I’ve recently been promoted to become a Senior IG Specialist, leading on complex reviews, projects and incidents. I support the Data Protection Officer, I’m carrying out their functions and I line manage a junior member of the team. It’s challenging and very demanding, but it’s varied and fast-paced which always keeps things interesting with options to learn and develop new skills.

What was it about Northumbria that made you decide to study here?

Northumbria was recommended to me by colleagues as the place to study information governance related courses. It is known in my professional field as an ‘industry standard’ as well as offering flexible study options. I was able to study distance learning and have the option to go on from the post graduate certificate to complete a Masters.

What was it like studying at Northumbria?

I studied distance learning which allowed me to fit my studies around my work and family. The communication with the Programme Lead and my tutor was very good and the electronic blackboard environment was reliable. The course offered three study days which I attended. This gave me the opportunity to meet others in my course and make new friendships. I would highly recommend attending the study days. Feedback on my coursework was helpful and prompt making the whole experience smooth and enjoyable.

How connected was your course with industry?

As I already worked in the industry this wasn’t something I needed to consider before applying to Northumbria. However, the study days were varied with some excellent speakers providing depth and different perspectives to the subject.

What was the best thing about your course?

The flexible study options, access to online materials and bettering course content.

How did studying at Northumbria help you achieve your career goals/ give your career an edge?

Having my qualification has definitely given my career an edge. It’s a respected qualification in my industry and colleagues understand and respect the work that goes into achieving it. I’ve been promoted since gaining this qualification.

Which skills/knowledge did you learn on your course that you use most now throughout your career?

Having never studied law before I really enjoyed learning legal research skills. Understanding how to locate and dissect cases has help d a lot on my work. Adding depth to my knowledge has also given me a confidence boost.

What did you enjoy most about your time at Northumbria University?

Meeting new people and learning new skills. I felt a real sense of achievement having completed my course.

What advice would you give somebody who is considering studying at Northumbria?

Go for it!

How would you describe your time at Northumbria in three words?

Challenging, inspiring and supportive.

For more information about me visit:

  • Twitter: @nicola_infolaw

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