Features

Andreia Saad – Grupo Globo

She’s programmed to ensure legal compliance and protect customer privacy

Ever vigilant about industry trends, Andreia Saad takes note as Brazilian authorities crack down on companies that don’t adequately secure personal data. Data protection among her responsibilities at the Latin American mass media conglomerate Grupo Globo, she’s insistent about staying compliant with evolving rules and regulations. 

But she’s just one woman, albeit with the impressive letterhead of legal director and data protection officer at the Rio de Janeiro-based company that employs around 14,000 throughout Latin America. Should any of those hires be remiss on privacy, Grupo Globo could face severe repercussions, but Saad’s taking every precaution to prevent such a breach. 

Andreia Saad | Legal Director and Data Protection Officer | Grupo Globo

Andreia Saad | Legal Director and Data Protection Officer | Grupo Globo

Late last year, she oversaw the company’s release of new training programs for heightened awareness among the workforce. Program streaming and focus on digital products having brought Grupo Globo closer to its customers, much more personal data is in play, which, of course, increases risk. 

“Our goal is to get all the people engaged,” Saad tells Vanguard in January. “We need everyone to know the law and be aware that they need to comply.” 

While Saad’s privacy team is pretty lean, consisting of five professionals, including a manager, technical analysts and lawyers, it is proactive with virtual seminars and training programs that can be fun and educational. She even included such lessons in an escape-room exercise last year. 

“I love privacy issues,” she says. “But I know they may sound like legalese to some people, so trying new techniques for engaging them is important. We are doing well in that area, keeping our people more active in understanding issues and clarifying doubts about what they should do with personal data.” 

She’s wired   

More at ease with technology than perhaps many of her legal counterparts at other companies, Saad’s also immersed in a digitization project that includes developing tools and protocols for the company’s increased use of artificial intelligence. 

While AI has many uses that enable productivity and enhanced quality, she says it has the potential to open many legal and regulatory issues, some of which have yet to be defined by the authorities. Grupo Globo thus must prepare for future rules, with Saad overseeing a dedicated team dealing with AI’s legal and technological issues. 

Andreia Saad | Legal Director and Data Protection Officer | Grupo Globo

“We discuss on a case-by-case basis all the issues, contracts and projects that involve AI,” she says. “Technology is more important than ever for the media industry. It can be used to streamline captioning, help writers in the process of story development and scriptwriting, personalize content recommendations and much more.  It’s amazing what technology can do, but it raises so many issues of copyrights, privacy and ethics.” 

Clarifying those complexities is part of Saad’s expanding role at the company, where she’s in her second go-around. An antitrust specialist early in her career, she oversaw that matter from 2010 to 2013 before returning to the firms where she had honed her skills. She marvels how the antitrust goal of ensuring fair-market competition has expanded to cover other areas, including regulation, corporate governance, privacy and data protection.    

Antitrust background 

Antitrust didn’t seem so far-reaching when Saad was commencing her legal career. A 2004 law graduate of the prestigious State University of Rio Janeiro, one of the best in Brazil, she began a 10-year stretch first as a trainee and later as an associate with the prominent Brazilian firm of Veirano Advogados, during which she enhanced her credentials with a degree in contracts law from Fundação Getúlio Vargas and a master’s in trade regulation, antitrust and competition law in 2009 from New York University School of Law.   

That prepared Saad to go in-house with Grupo Globo, where she relished having just one client and immersing in projects from conception to completion. However, by 2013, as the new Brazilian Antitrust Law came into force, she felt it necessary to return to a major firm and garner antitrust experience in a broader range than media law. 

Andreia Saad | Legal Director and Data Protection Officer | Grupo Globo

She found that opportunity with the Rio de Janeiro firm of Mattos Filho, Veiga Filho, Marrey Jr. e Quiroga Advogados, one of the biggest firms in the country, becoming part of its prestigious antitrust team. In 2015, Saad took a leave from Mattos Filho and became an international associate at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton in Washington D.C.,  practicing antitrust and regulatory law—highlights included being part of the team that helped Dow and Dupont finalize their $145bn merger, a major transaction that made headlines at the time. 

“I had such an amazing experience at Cleary,” she recalls. “I learned so much working with brilliant teams in London, Sao Paulo and New York. I also loved Washington. I had enjoyed the chaos of New York while studying for my master’s, but Washington was the better place for me.” 

Perhaps for her son Antonio as well. Though he was just a 1-year-old, Saad said the toddler seemed to soak in some of the local culture, even learning a smattering of English that he’s since expanded upon as a now bilingual 9-year-old. 

Back to Globo 

But much as Saad enjoyed the U.S. capital, Brazil was still home, and the door to Grupo Globo remained open for her return as a legal specialist in March 2017. She’s since ascended the ladder, and as Saad celebrates the seventh anniversary of her return, she anticipates a busy agenda, what with Grupo Globo’s growth coinciding with so much on the regulatory and AI fronts. 

“There’s much to do here, especially in the new area we’re building in AI,” she says. “I love working with my team and don’t plan on leaving anytime soon.” 

Andreia Saad | Legal Director and Data Protection Officer | Grupo Globo

In-house has also proved to be her preferred locale, though Saad says she’s grateful for the many lessons learned as an associate with major law firms. As to why Saad became a lawyer, she says her mother had been one, though she was never pushed into the profession. Exact sciences were Saad’s early interest, but, as a 17-year-old, she took an aptitude test that pointed her toward law. She’s gotten the best of both worlds: a legal role at a media company where knowledge of math, economics and technology is an asset. 

And she wants to do even more. An in-house department, Saad emphasizes, shouldn’t be siloed or looked upon as an obstacle to company growth. 

“Legal has got to have more of a strategic role,” she says. “I want to change the way people view the legal department. I want businesspeople to recognize our role and how we are their partners. As technology evolves and legal answers become less and less obvious, I believe our support is more essential than never for the business to continue safely striving forward.” 

 

View this feature in the Vanguard Winter II 2024 Edition here.

Published on: January 26, 2024

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