When life gives you lemons, as the saying goes, make lemonade. Here at Stellar Women, when Aer Lingus gives you a six-hour layover in Dublin, see if Inés Rubio wouldn’t like to sit for a podcast.
Based in Dublin but hailing from all over, Inés is the award-winning head of information management and incident response at the consultancy BSI, where she works with clients on data concerns, from security to e-discovery to management to forensics.
I had the distinct honor of joining Inés and Stellar Women host Mary Rechtoris at Ireland’s oldest pub, the Brazen Head, as the podcast’s first male guest. Over a pint of (what else?) Guinness on a blustery day, we chatted about the lessons of travel, her work with Avocats Sans Frontières, the meaning of data resilience, the nuances of mentoring, and what, exactly, is Gaelic football.
Mary Rechtoris: Hey Stellar Women fans. I’m your host, Mary Rechtoris and I'm coming to you from one of my favorite places in the world—Dublin, Ireland. I am super pumped to be here. We have Inés Rubio from BSI and then JC Steinbrenner, who's the brand director at Relativity and an ally of Stellar Women. He’s filling in for Mila Taylor as the co-host so he has some big shoes to fill, especially because he's the first male podcast guest and host.
JC Steinbrunner: It's exciting and it’s an honor to be here. And I’m excited to be here in this pub, The Brazen Head. Did you know that this bar has been in established since 1189? I mean 1198.
MR: Eleven hundred and some year.
JS: It’s been around for a very long time and people have been drinking, partying, and now podcasting here. Glad to add to the tradition.
Inés Rubio: The oldest tavern in Ireland as far as I’m aware.
MR: And we’re actually sitting outside which is kind of crazy for JC and me—being Chicagoans sitting outside in February. Or is it still January 31?
IR: It’s January.
MR: We’ve been traveling so listeners, please bear with us. So, Inés, you’re from Spain, right?
IR: Right and now I’m in Dublin.
MR: And where else have you lived?
IR: I’ve lived in Belgium and the Netherlands. After I decided that I wanted to leave Spain, I wanted to travel the world a bit.
MR: What’s the most unexpected part about living abroad?
IR: I guess it would be the first couple of days when you are moving to a new location—it’s all systems are a go. You have to figure out where you live and what is your neighborhood and find people and friends that can help you. It takes a bit of time to adjust and I was lucky enough when I moved here that I didn’t have to do that because I had been traveling here during the weekends and my partner was here as well. So, it was easy to adjust. Ireland is a really easy place to live because people are super nice and welcoming. It was definitely something that helps.
MR: That’s why it is one of my favorite places. Is there anything in all of your travels that you've brought into your work or learned from moving from place to place that has helped you in your career?
IR: Adjusting to other people and being flexible. When you move to a new place, you have to understand the standards and the behavior of people and their expectations of you. It’s a lot about respect on that front as well, so I would say flexibility and respect would be at the top of the list for sure.
JS: That sounds like two great learning points.
IR: Yeah, it’s just the way you have to be when you go to a new place. When you’re traveling, some people might not take it the greatest way if you behave in a certain way. An awareness of that really helps.
MR: When you were in Brussels, you were in Lawyers Without Borders. Can you tell us about that experience?
IR: Yes, I suppose the French version is Avocats Sans Frontières. Most of what they do is around international projects mostly in Africa and also South America. It is about bringing justice to people that don’t have access to justice easily so they have a number of projects around international crimes. They also provide protection of lawyers in certain jurisdictions which, for us, is a given. In certain countries though, it is not. A lot of lawyers are persecuted. There are different projects that involve the law and access to justice.
MR: What interested you about criminal law?
IR: I find it fascinating and I’ve always loved—and this sounds really weird—but I’ve also loved “CSI” and real crime shows. I do think that it is the people aspect though—what people do and why they do it.
MR: Do you listen to true crime podcasts?
IR: I usually listen to music when I’m driving but I did listen to “Serial” and I loved it.
JS: Loved “Serial.”
MR: Season One?
MR: Phoebe Jones is great. Well, I want to give a shout out to “Crime Junkie,” if you happen to be listening, you’re one of my favorite podcasts. So, please sponsor us.
IR: The intro music [to “Serial”] gave me the chills.
MR: Do you think he’s guilty?
IR: I don’t think so.
MR: You don’t?
IR: It’s more about was there enough evidence to show that he was guilty?
MR: And, there wasn’t.
IR: Yeah—I’m shaking my head.
MR: Well, you are the lawyer.
IR: The retired lawyer.
MR: A lawyer, nonetheless. Is there any particular case or moment from Lawyers Without Borders that resonates with you?
IR: Well, I was particularly involved in a project that helped victims of international crimes participate in proceedings in International Criminal Court. So for me, that was really interesting. If you’re a victim, there's a form they have to fill out where you're trying to describe the facts of what you lost. When somebody came in and pillaged your town, it's really difficult to make an exhaustive list of everything that they have taken from your house. It was really difficult to level with the situation on the ground and the legal aspect of that. You can’t just say everything was destroyed in my house. There’s no quantification or detailed explanation. That was really difficult to explain. I wasn’t in the field at the time but I can imagine when you had someone say that your application was denied because you’re not being specific enough, victims will say, “I lost everything. Are you serious?”
JS: Right, like my life has been destroyed but the paperwork needs to be in order.
IR: And it’s really difficult to put those things together and balance that out. I have always found international law important. I follow international law and the United Nations quite closely and I see there’s still a bit of a disconnect. I think a point of struggle for international organizations is the difficulty in knowing how people are feeling on the ground and what is exactly happening.
MR: Now, you’re running security at BSI?
IR: Well, yeah-ish. I’m not going to take all the credit. BSI cybersecurity and information resilience is basically a stream of BSI business but we do consulting. We do a lot of things around helping out clients with any issue they have around their data, and that may mean management, privacy, data protection, e-discovery, forensics, and incident response. We help them get technology that will help them manage their own data with let’s say cloud security products and help them implement and manage them. We do a lot of training around that so it all comes nicely together. All those areas overlap so I always go to clients and ask them, how are you managing your data and how can we help you along with these other points? What we are trying to do is help them with their data.
JS: Information resilience is a term that I haven’t heard of before.
MR: I like it.
JS: It’s very artful. Can you talk a bit about what that means?
IR: It’s organizational resilience basically, which is something that BSI has always had on the forefront. It is the modern way of doing business. It is about being able to be flexible when things change. If there’s a virus outbreak, how do you reach to that and how is your business going to be affected by that? How are you minimizing risk? Today, information is a big part of that. That’s how we communicate and that is where the value is. So, we have to be flexible with that and react to situations in a way that won’t destroy your business overnight.
JS: Is that something that your clients think about? What is the level of understating out there in the world?
IR: It varies. We have clients that are huge multinational corporations and we have some clients that are SMEs. When you’re thinking of a budget for next year, some organizations place a higher priority on this than others. For every organization, there is an element of managing their data. In terms of which areas they prioritize, that depends on the type of business they are running and their infrastructure as well as what applications they use. Do they have personal data? It really varies. Ultimately, everyone needs to do a lot of work on that front. So, size doesn’t matter.
All: Cheers to that!
MR: I want to say congratulations because you were recently named security leader of the year in the fall. Can you tell me about the award and your experience in the security field?
IR: The award was great. The BSI team did a lot of work around that. It was great to be recognized on that front because it’s still a bit of a challenge to get people to know our brand, so it was great getting it out there. We were shortlisted alongside Facebook and other big companies. From the perspective of the award, it’s part of the Dublin Tech Summit which is particularly for women. The summit has a big reach and it’s a big event, so it’s great to be involved.
In terms of security, my initial experience was when I joined BSI at the time. I came from a legal background so I wasn’t into security or didn’t have the awareness. I learned a lot from listening to other people and getting involved in training. It’s the overlapping layer over e-discovery as well and data management and review. I always encourage people to not just focus on their core layer of knowledge, but [gain understanding] in other areas that overlap. Security is obviously a big one and I know that Relativity does a lot of work around that. It’s at the forefront and a priority for organizations and people. This is really interesting to be able to talk about security as well as discovery and privacy, you know?
MR: Definitely. Shifting gears slightly, I would love to talk about Gaelic football. You described it as a mix of almost every sport—some basketball, rugby, football. Can you tell listeners what it is?
IR: So the GAA is the Gaelic Athletic Association and the two most known Gaelic sports are hurling and football. Hurling is a completely different sport and I could go on for hours about it. Football, in particular, is a mix of many sports and it’s really fast paced. There is a lot of sprinting involved. It involved 15 players on the field and you can score goals and points. That’s where it is similar to American football or rugby.
JS: That is my kind of sport where you can’t get it wrong.
IR: It’s played globally in the US, Asia, and mainland Europe. That’s where I started playing actually. It’s a lot of fun really, and we’re known for being a brutal sport.
JS: Is it full contact?
IR: It’s not full contact, but there is a lot of contact. I think a lot of the brutality around it is about how intense the sport is on your body, regardless of contact. You’re sprinting up and down and covering a lot of space. You have to open yourself big like a bear, as we say to the kids we train. You get knocks and people run by you and knock your arm over or whatever. Because it’s so fast paced, you’re really dependent on your teammates, as well. There is a way that you can pass with your hand which is like an underarm volley that you do when you’re close enough to your team and you depend of them to get you out of trouble.
JS: What do you get out of it? What keeps you going season to season?
IR: Lack of injuries or lack of serious injuries is the top one. You get to go to training with 30 girls and everyone is super nice. You get to keep fit; I don’t look forward to the gym but I look forward to my training. It’s a great way to get over a bad day at work or a good day at work and celebrate that way.
MR: I’m not sure if this will resonate with you but when we were driving up here, we told our cab driver that we were talking to our customer about Gaelic football and said your name was Inés. He seemed shocked that it was a girl playing the sport.
JS: He said, “Oh he must be brave,” and I said “she.”
MR: She is brave. You mentor young athletes. Do you find that they deal with that narrative where Gaelic football is an aggressive, masculine sport?
IR: The group I trained are around 11 years old. On a Saturday morning, we were training the boys and girls separately. Toward the end of the session, we said we are going to play a game between the girls and the boys. One girl—who was new to the sport—looked at me and said, “What do you mean? I am going to play against a boy?” I told her, “Sure, you can take him.” She looked at me nervously and asked if I was sure. As a defender in football, I told her that her objective was to stick with the player you are meant to be covering. I told her that she had to stick with him and not let him be an option for a pass. She said, “OK.” She did a fantastic job. At the end, I asked her if she was happy she played and she said, “Yeah! I’m so thrilled I played against the boy. He didn’t even get one pass.”
MR: Heck yeah.
IR: There is a problem at the moment when you are past age 11 and you are a teenager. At that point, especially when you are a girl, you drop the sport and say you are not interested in it anymore. There is a lot of work that has to be done around that; I think that it is changing now. When I was growing up, there were people that said they hadn’t worked out or played any sport in 10 years. It seemed like a masculine thing. I think that is changing. The parameters are changing to wanting to be a strong woman; having muscles on your legs is something you want to aim for. There is work to be done to encourage people to stay in sports, especially girls.
MR: I am not athlete by any means. I have always been very mediocre—one of the better athletes on the B team.
JS: So humble.
MR: It’s true. But I weight lift. I’m not squatting a ton but when I tell people that, a lot of guys say, ”Do you want to get big?” And that’s a misconception; everyone should build muscle. It actually burns more fat and sculpts your body more than just doing the elliptical for two hours. It feeds into that negative narrative that doesn’t serve anymore.
IR: I am not fitness expert either, but I know if I am playing a sport at a certain level and at a certain age, I need to go to the gym and lift weights or even just my body weight. It builds your muscles and makes them resilient so that you avoid injuries. And it’s about combining the elliptical with weights and whatever things make you happy and look forward to working out.
MR: Right, whatever you can be consistent about.
IR: Whatever gets you over the breaking the New Year’s resolution jump.
JS: Let’s talk about mentoring. You mentor girls in Gaelic football and mentor in the office, as well. What’s the most difficult thing about being a mentor and the thing you have to keep in mind?
IR: I am part of a group about mentoring women in legal tech that is run by Legal Geek. This is the second year I am participating. One of the things that is the most difficult is letting people find their own way. Sharing your experience but letting them have their own. They may not want the same things that you wanted or want now. They have to make their own decisions. It’s very similar to coaching. It is really difficult when you are coaching to not say, “You should have done this.” It’s more about, “Have you considered any other options?” It’s a mix of that and lessons learned. Obviously if I made a mistake years ago and I found a great solution, I want them to know. It’s not that they won’t make that same mistake because they will learn from it. But at least they have the solution handy so they know how to rectify it. Another thing is sharing information. It’s a two-way street; I talk about things and share what I am having challenges with. As a mentee, they may have a solution or pointers.
JS: That’s a great observation.
MR: It’s a fluid thing. We are really bummed to leave this interview, this bar, and Dublin. But, we must go through the dreaded customs.
IR: Hopefully you can come back soon; you are super welcome. We’ll go to all the cool spots in Dublin.
JS: That would be wonderful.
IR: We can go to Temple Bar! That may be too college-y.
JS: It is not good when you see your guest cringe.
IR: It is definitely something to experience and we can go there once, as well.
MR: We can take a picture outside and then go somewhere manageable. Thanks so much for joining us.
IR: Thank you guys.
MR: And for Stellar Women, I’m Mary Rechtoris.
JS: I’m JC Steinbrunner.
Both: Signing off.
MR: Thanks Mila for letting JC fill in.
JS: You’re the best.