Governance, Compliance, and Data Protection In Financial Services

Posted By: SpencerWilliams
Posted On: May 8th, 2019
Attending: Letterkenny Institute of Technology


So after graduating college I didn’t think that I would be continuing school. I definitely didn’t think I’d be continuing school in a different country and I definitely, DEFINITELY didn’t think that I would pursuing my masters in the subject that I am. Yet here I am with just a few more weeks left before I hold a Master’s degree in a course titled Governance, Compliance and Data protection in Financial Services (Try to say that two times fast). If you think that sounds a bit complicated and difficult, then congratulations because you couldn’t be more right! I don’t have enough room to explain all of the things we learn but the majority of it is focused on; the importance and methods used to protect critical and private data, the regulations and standards used to govern company data policies, computer hardware/software and cyber security, the function of the world economy and plenty more.

Mind you, these are all subjects I have never studied or was ever interested in at any point in my life whatsoever. Therefore, within the first few weeks of school, it’s safe to say I felt like a certified fraud in the classroom. I still was struggling to understand my professors accents and top of that, my classmates were all an average about 25 years older than I am. I thought I had no one to relate to, as well as no one who was as unprepared for this class as I was. My daily thoughts in class consisted of the things like, how was I placed in a technology based class when I barely know which remote to use to turn on the TV? Why does everyone spell words like organize and recognize like “organise ” or “recognise”? What the heck is compliance and how will it ever benefit my life? Initially, the class might as well have been taught in Chinese because I was beyond lost. Fortunately, since then my mindset has evolved and I’m now seeing how interesting the topic. Also I don’t want to speak too soon but it’s looking like I’m going to pass and that feels like a miraculous accomplishment.


Part of the reason I was able to survive the year is because those same classmates who just so happen to be parents age, ended up being as friendly and as helpful as anyone I’ve ever met. In speaking with them I discovered I wasn’t the only one feeling overwhelmed. The last time many of them wrote a paper was on a type writer and the only search engine that was available to them was called the public library. I was relieved, and once I joined the class group chats which we used to guide and assist one another, I knew I would never take Irish hospitality for granted ever again. I decided that all I could do was give it my best shot and whatever happens, happens.

The initial assignments were the most challenging since I was unaware of how papers would be graded or what the professors were looking for. Also, the terminology and wording of the assignments were extremely confusing and technical.  I found myself spending hours researching the basic terms and phrases just so I could establish some context before I attempted to answer the prompt. I went as far as reaching out to friends back home to see if they had any information on things like equity markets, annuities, and firewalls (they never did). My parents don’t know this but there ended up being several nights where I genuinely had no clue if would pass or not. Almost all students know the feeling of completing a long and difficult paper. You feel like your hair is turning grey and your head might explode but most importantly, when it’s finally finished, you feel a sense of pride. Just like in basketball and life, when you put in work for something and you see results, it builds confidence and it motivates you to keep going. So after I got my first few assignments back and I managed to pass, I began to believe in my ability more and more as I learned about subjects I’d NEVER even thought about. Now, these days I’m regularly writing 20 page papers on things like cloud computing which if you know me, that is something I never thought I would say.

In struggling throughout this class I’ve learned some valuable lessons. For one, if you’re ever in a position where you feel out of place and you might fail, don’t be afraid to reach out for assistance. I know for a fact that without my new middle aged friends at LYIT I wouldn’t be prospering like I am now. The second is that is it crucial to understand your “why”. Why are you doing this in the first place and what reason do you have to continue. My “why”is my family and all that they’ve sacrificed to get me here as well as all the benefits a masters could have for my future. Without a legitimate reason “why” it’s much easier to lose motivation when adversity strikes. These two semesters have been as challenging as any but now that I’ve almost made it through, I’m nothing but grateful.


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