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Ricky Davis

SVP, Chief Privacy Officer & Cyber Security Counsel , Synchrony Financial

Class of 2023

I had a very positive experience while studying at NYU Law at the start of my career, so I welcomed the chance to return to my legal alma mater.

The journey thus far “hasn’t been totally linear. I earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and government and a master’s degree in public administration, both from Florida State University, before being recruited by Southern Bell Telephone & Telegraph Co. (formerly a subsidiary of AT&T) into their management training program. I’ve always been committed to continuous learning and personal development, and as a result I decided to take graduate business courses while in the FSU public administration program in order to expand my horizons and potential career opportunities.

Following a four year tenure at Southern Bell, I returned to my native New York to attend NYU’s School of Law, and after graduating I worked at the law firm of Davis Polk & Wardwell before joining GE’s financial services arm.  That business was eventually spun off as a stand-alone company, Synchrony Financial, in 2015. At Synchrony, I had primary legal responsibility for areas like sourcing contracts, and when the new EU General Data Protection Regulation was passed in 2017, I raised my hand and volunteered to get involved in privacy as well as data and cyber security issues. Over time I have developed a strong knowledge and understanding of the applicable regulatory and policy related issues, but frankly didn’t have a deep technical background, so the idea of studying in a program that involved both the law school and the engineering school was incredibly intriguing.

I had a very positive experience while studying at NYU Law at the start of my career, so I welcomed the chance to return to my legal alma mater. Because I had a demanding full-time job, I also appreciated the hybrid nature of the program, which allowed me some flexibility in scheduling. My capstone project involves insurance coverage for cyber attacks from nation-states involving “critical infrastructure” sectors. Think about how 9/11 affected businesses financially; a cyber attack could be similarly devastating.

I’ve been at my current organization for more than 30 years, and as I continue on my journey, I would like people to view me as a thought leader and subject matter expert in this burgeoning field. Additionally, I believe this expertise could be of value for corporate boards which today have a grand challenge and need for expertise in the intersection of cybersecurity expertise and legal. There’s an added factor to that as well; most boards have a marked lack of diversity, and as a person of color, I could contribute in some small way to address that situation.”

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