Rosemary Smith, one of the most influential figures in the data and marketing industry and a recognised authority on data protection, has passed away.
Rosemary started her career in directory publishing, before joining the Periodical Publishers Association in 1984 to analyse the UK’s first Data Protection Act (DPA) and explain its impact to members.
By 1989, Rosemary had joined one of the UK’s leading list brokers, Mardev (which was eventually acquired by Reed International), and within three years had become managing director.
As she once recalled: “DM in the early 90s was speeding along like a thriller. The list business was transforming itself from a nice little sideline for publishers and mail order companies to a full-blown market sector with compiled and lifestyle sources jockeying for broker attention.
“Here I learned a key lesson: if you surround yourself with bright, innovative people, give them enough space to grow and support them with a consistent management style, they (and, by association, you) will succeed.”
After Mardev came a short spell running the contact centre and fulfilment businesses for Acxiom, before she launched The Prospect Shop for Bonnier.
In 2003, Rosemary set up her own company, RSA Direct, and, within a year, a separate data protection business Opt-4, together with former DMA board director and National Geographic client Jenny Moseley. Rosemary and Jenny are co-authors of the book “New Data Protection Liabilities & Risks for Direct Marketers” .
Since launch, Opt-4 has undertaken projects for major brands involving audits of complex data landscapes; drafting privacy policies and guidance; providing advice on permission maximisation and impact assessments of future legislation. In fact, the success of the business led Rosemary to eventually shut down RSA in 2012 to concentrate on Opt-4.
Over the years, Rosemary gained huge respect for her unstinting work for both the DMA and the IDM; she sat on the DMA board for seven years and was also DMA chairman from 2006 to 2008 and chaired the DMA Governance Committee, dealing with all aspects of privacy in marketing.
In addition, Rosemary was a tutor for the IDM and was made an IDM Honorary Life Fellow in 2009. She was also chair of the DM Trust, a member of the Royal Mail Market Reach Advisory Board and co-founder of the Data Protection Network, an online resource for privacy officers and those with an interest in data protection matters.
Decision Marketing will be running a separate article in which senior industry figures, friends and colleagues will pay tribute to Rosemary. We will also publish details of funeral plans as soon as they are available.
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