Skip to content


Harry Cassin
Publisher and Editor

Andy Spalding
Senior Editor

Jessica Tillipman
Senior Editor

Bill Steinman
Senior Editor

Richard L. Cassin
Editor at Large

Elizabeth K. Spahn
Editor Emeritus

Cody Worthington
Contributing Editor

Julie DiMauro
Contributing Editor

Thomas Fox
Contributing Editor

Marc Alain Bohn
Contributing Editor

Bill Waite
Contributing Editor

Shruti J. Shah
Contributing Editor

Russell A. Stamets
Contributing Editor

Richard Bistrong
Contributing Editor

Eric Carlson
Contributing Editor

Mike Scher goes to college

In the wild, animals that educate their young survive. There’s a lesson in that for the compliance profession. If we want to survive and thrive, we have to expand from “Train the Troops” to “Educate the Young.”  College students could be among our best allies.

“ I learned a lot about a field that I didn’t even know existed,” wrote a student participating in a Compliance Boot Camp offered recently at a major university. The students, on semester break, volunteered for a four-day, no-credit crash course in compliance. Of course, they hope it will open doors to a future job, but they also discovered compliance is intellectually intriguing, often inspiring and, as one student put it, “really real.” If a compliance officer feels burned out, I recommend observing students like these.

After the compliance classes, a consulting firm partner conducted tough, role-play interviews for an entry-level CO job. One shy student nearly broke down when told she was not suited for CO work and should apply instead to a charity. But, squaring her shoulders and standing tall, she pushed back: “No I am in the right place. I think compliance is about a policy of doing things the right way. There’s a right way and a wrong way to do business. I can talk to the sales people and explain this and make them believe it. That’s why I deserve this job.”  Indeed after just four days, she was on track. Education works.

Consulting firm partners, senior compliance officers, auditors, investigators, and business executives all worked pro bono to staff the boot camp — remarkable considering the daily rates and salaries of the participating professionals. Did they benefit personally from future business contacts, or networking? I hope so. That’s the business mix COs want to model for students: legitimate profits arising from a business “culture” that is ethical and community oriented. Compliance boot camps like this one speak well for the profession.

To survive and thrive, the profession cannot be complacent that young people have never heard of compliance and universities don’t offer compliance majors or graduate programs. COs can practice better advocacy in 2014 by asking local universities to start compliance boot camps for students, and offering to help.

We already recognize the importance of Training. Let’s add: Educating. It’s the future of the profession.


Michael Scher is a contributing editor of the FCPA Blog. He has over three decades of experience as a senior compliance officer and attorney for international transactions. He is affiliated with ethiXbase, the owner of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.

Share this post



  1. This is a fantastic idea, I have really struggled to find any academic courses related to compliance in any way while there are plenty covering supply chain and logistics.

  2. Thanks David. Yes, it is true that the universities are unfamiliar with compliance as a profession and its larger ideas too. There are exceptions but in general compliance is a work in progress. While this can be frustrating, it also is a chance to shape an important field and to affect business and many stakeholders. Advocacy is a key: It would be useful to see many universities partnering with local COs to run boot camps. Let's get the word out.

    Thanks for your comment.

  3. The boot camp concept is an amazing approach to educating students on Compliance work. Was this done with undergraduate students or graduate (MBA) level students? I would be interested in your thoughts on which level is appropriate (or are both viable options).

  4. Hi Susan and thank you for your good questions. Undergraduates came to the recent boot camp but it is a very good suggestion to have one for graduate students too. I appreciate your suggestion – which goes to prove another thought. The profession gains when COs keep talking to each other — and to the world too.

    'Educating' as well as 'training' can help – a form of advocacy that works. Note that teaching is its own special profession, and I for one have much to learn from the teaching profession about best ways to explain compliance to students at different levels. It's on us to sharpen our educating skills and make allies among teachers and students. MORE BOOT CAMPS PLEASE!

    Be well and stay in touch.

Comments are closed for this article!