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      My Career as an Open Source Compliance Officer

      How I explain my job at a dinner party.

      My job is to make sure Continental’s free source code software complies with all open source licenses. We focus on copyrights and how they have to be connected to their software architecture, and ultimately ensure Continental’s software is proprietary and remains proprietary. Our software is used to build the car dashboard display features many of us are familiar with, like audio, GPS navigation, phone, settings, and the clock.

      Why I chose to accept a job that didn’t exist at the time.

      I’m an engineer by education. I started in software engineering and gradually came to this field because there was a need, so I was the very first and currently only person to have this role at the company. Open source compliance is a very niche skill and it started in the last 10-15 years.

      When the gap was identified, nobody wanted to take it up. It didn’t look interesting. But I said, okay, this is a new area to learn. I was skeptical, but I knew I was going to give it my best shot. It’s something I had to learn by going through the process. There aren’t really any books or anything and nobody was doing it before. I’ve had to learn a lot of legalities and that’s what I find very interesting – the fact that I learn something new every day.

      On the challenges of recruiting a team to a brand-new area of expertise.

      There’s much greater awareness of open source licenses now, but knowledge of what needs to be done is still largely unknown. I’d say 95 percent of my team were hired because of their openness to learn something new. They had no knowledge of how to bridge between the legal and engineering world, so I’ve had to teach them and ramp them up. It is still very difficult to find people with the right blend of skills for our work.

      Ranjeeta Pillai

      Open Source Compliance Officer

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