An Interview with Paula Lederman

Last Updated: September 28, 2018By

Paula is a leading RIM Expert, Partner at IMERGE Consulting

Today we are talking with Paula Lederman, Partner at IMERGE Consulting. Paula has over 15 years of consulting and training experience in the field of content and information management in both the public and private sectors. Her extensive education and experience in a wide variety of systems—including SharePoint‚ Opentext‚ and Documentum—makes her a highly-qualified addition to our interview series. She has been involved in a number of taxonomy and classification projects‚ as well as many records and electronic records information management strategy‚ feasibility‚ and development projects. Her experience covers municipal‚ provincial/state‚ federal government agencies‚ the financial regulatory sector‚ and the private sector. She excels in implementing practical and user-friendly solutions and for knowledge transfer during client projects.

InfoGov World: Where did you grow up? Go to school?
Paula: I grew up in Toronto, Canada, and went to school at the University of Toronto, where I completed a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, and then a Master’s of Library and Information Science. While I was on a maternity leave, I decided to complete a Master’s of Business Administration at Schulich School of Business, York University.

How did you get into the records management business?
I began my career as a computer programmer, working on automated library systems. As the work automating libraries was applied to corporate settings, their own records also came into play. Over about ten years, my work shifted from 90% library automation and 10% records management to the exact reverse—now 90% records and information management and only 10% library automation. What is so interesting to me is that in the last few years the issues of digital preservation, digitization of print collections, and archiving of electronic records are beginning to shift that balance back as libraries find themselves holding a lot of electronic collections. Funding for donations of electronic records to archives has come with processing funds, which is accelerating the involvement of archivists in managing electronic records.’

What types of major projects have you worked on recently?
I’ve been involved in several archives and digitization projects, as well as Information Governance programs for regulated industries (pharma), financial investment firms, and government agencies. I also completed several projects for United Nations agencies, which offer their own complexities and challenges.

How has records management changed in the last five or ten years?
The shift from paper to electronic records management has always been the biggest challenge and continues to be as the volume and velocity of content creation explodes. And the paper issues haven’t gone away. As organizations become more mobile and virtual, it’s essential to have access to everything you need to do your job—from anywhere. This is driving many digitization initiatives, which, in turn, creates more requirements for metadata and tools that make the information findable and retrievable. Keyword searches where you get millions of hits aren’t enough. Artificial intelligence and semantic processing has come a long way, and maturity in that field will be the major breakthrough that is required to make traditional electronic records management work properly.

As well, we have seen a movement upwards on the corporate ladder. More and more, recordkeeping is no longer relegated to administrators who only worry about shifting around boxes; use of information has moved to the executive suite, where it is now recognized as a corporate asset. With that recognition comes the realization that it is also a risk, making privacy and security considerations a threat to all organizations.

The other problem with IG is that it is a very politically charged term and one that seems to imply more bureaucracy and overhead—and this is when organizations want to be agile, lean, and more decentralized. This is a dilemma that has to be resolved: an organization needs consistency in the way information is managed and shared. Connectivity is the key, with everyone being on the same page. As silos are created, the competitive value of information assets are diluted and risks are introduced to the organization.


(CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT): I love that my work requires travel so I enjoy the beauty of nature wherever I go. This shot is from Alberta Canada; Along the same theme this is a shot with my husband on vacation in Newfoundland; My favorite place to relax is the gulf coast of Florida and I never get tired of photographing the changing sunsets from the balcony; I have three grown children and two grandchildren and I treasure time and holidays with family. Shopping for new glasses with my adorable granddaughter.

Has GDPR had an impact in Canada?
Yes, it has for all of North America. Companies with any business activity in the European Union are required to follow privacy and access requirements of GDPR; from an Information Governance point of view, that means knowing where their information is, how long it is kept, and how it is used and protected. It’s pretty shocking that large multinational corporations cannot answer these questions easily or efficiently.

Are you still teaching?
Yes, I teach the certificate course in Records and Information Management online at the University Of Toronto School Of Continuing Studies. It consists of three, twelve-week courses—all online. The three courses include: Fundamentals of Information and Records Management; Records and Information Management Practices; and Records and Information Management Strategy.

What primary texts do you use?
The primary textbook used is Robert Smallwood’s, Managing Electronic Records (Methods, Best Practices and Technologies, Wiley, 2013). It is well referenced, with contributions from many industry leaders. I supplement this with up-to-date and specific articles, internet resources, or vendor demos based on the specific topic at the time. Standards are always being updated and new trends continue to appear. New trends include treating social media as records, blockchain, digital preservation, and cloud repositories.

What is your favorite vacation spot?
A quiet beach on the Gulf Coast of Florida, where I watch the waves and the sunsets.

What is your greatest achievement?
Being able to raise my three wonderful kids while still having a very exciting and demanding career, which has taken me to many interesting organizations and places all over the world. I feel very privileged.

What hobby or special skill do you have that might surprise most of your colleagues?
I love knitting, which has a cult-like following. I was a bit overwhelmed when I attended a Vogue knitting conference in New York City last year and met with 8,000 crazy knitters like me. Not like any Information Governance, ARMA, or AIIM meeting, that‘s for sure.

Do you like back bacon?
I’m Canadian and also a hockey mom.  Of course!

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