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.