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It’s been two months since I joined OpenCorporates as the Community & Communications Manager and it’s been an amazing journey so far. Some of you have met me or spoken to me on email but I wanted to introduce myself to those I haven’t gotten a chance to speak to. Before I go into my OpenCorporates experience, let me tell you a bit more about myself.

I have been working in the Tech startups for the past 4 years, enabling organizations to build, engage and manage communities. I’ve created marketing strategies; social media plans and organized events. I particularly  love working with people so I seek out opportunities that give me a chance to meet do just that. In my free time, I volunteer for a couple of organizations that support social entrepreneurship and empower women.

My favourite cup of coffee is a cappuccino and I love everything sweet. Except raisins. And If I could go back in time, it would be to meet Oscar Wilde.

I joined OpenCorporates because I realized I spent so much time volunteering for social projects yet I could be doing that during the day too. I haven’t had the chance to work in the Open or Big Data space before but had been a part of the Open source movement through volunteering with MakeSense, Wikimedia UK & Mozfest. When I heard about the job opening at OpenCorporates – I immediately knew this is something that I needed. It was so impressive that with limited resources, they were able to get data on over 70 million companies in 80 jurisdictions worldwide (70 million now!). And the job, so far, has not let me down..

The past two months

What have I been upto for the past two months? Let’s see. I crammed a lot of learning in about company structures, financial and legal regulations, open data sector and scraping.

My role at OpenCorporates is to engage with different segments of the wider community which includes academics, investigators, NGOs and media organizations. I’m amazed by how much support OpenCorporates has from the open data community. And I hear the most interesting from people about how they came across OpenCorporates or how it helped them.

For instance, the other day, I met a lovely man who works as a Data Trainer for journalists at a major mainstream media house. He told me that one of his friends was having trouble with a company director who had fled and could not be contacted. He had defaulted on his fiduciary responsibilities and was in the wind. So, this gentlemen opened up OpenCorporates to see if he was listed as a Director on any other company. Voila! They found he had infact been a director of multiple companies in the UK and through a little more digging, they managed to find multiple contact details for him. After calling many numbers they finally found him in a taxi in New York quite surprised at the call. They immediately alerted the police and the gentlemen in question was apprehended.

What an interesting story! I just happened to speak to him by chance and it amazed me to think that I could have easily not have been sitting next to him and would never know about this incident. I would love to collect these stories of impact so if you know of any, do let me know.

TCamp’14

I had the pleasure of spending 5 days in Washington DC as part of the International TCamp team by Sunlight Foundation. For those of you who don’t know what TCamp is – it is an annual unconference run by the Sunlight Foundation which brings together open data, transparency and open government advocates from around the world.

TCamp was probably the most organized unconference I was ever been to. From branded hand-sanitizers to lanyards that opened up to show the agenda, Wifi passwords and site map – the had it all covered.  Moving on from the organizational beauty, TCamp had an impressive mix of people from various backgrounds and stories. Hearing about open data in Armenia, Georgia, Philadelphia and discussing the differences in FOI request policy around the world was thrilling! Interestingly, I learnt that in Slovakia, every time an FOI request is granted – the data automatically becomes open and is published on the government portal. I wonder why more countries don’t do that?

I had the chance of sharing the importance of having open corporate data for NGOs, civil society organizations and open government advocates. I met so many people that I’m still following up with all of them to see how we can link closely together!

What’s coming up next…

  • OKFest: We are going to OKFest in full strength next week. We’ll be there from 13th July to participate in the Hack the Bank hackathon and then OKFest where we will be doing a secret campaign! You have to be there to be part of something big.
  • Wikimania: Are you coming to Wikipedia’s annual conference Wikimania in August? This year it is in London and it looks to be the biggest one ever held. Chris Taggart, CEO of OpenCorporates, will be speaking at it too!
  • A busier blog: From now onwards, you will be seeing a lot more activity on this blog and we would love to feature guest blogs by community members. If you are interested in writing something, please sign up here.

 

herapic

If you would like to contact me, please feel free to send me an email at hera@opencorporates.com or tweet to me at @herahussain.

 

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