I heard about the International Anti-Corruption Academy through Andy Spalding’s posts on the FCPA Blog, where he wrote about his work with the IACA in Vienna. A school for mid-career anti-corruption professionals seemed like an idea that could have a tremendous real-world impact.
Over time I connected with the IACA via social media, and then through emails with IACA academic course and projects directors. We talked about my lecturing to a class in their Master in Anti-Corruption Studies (MACS) program.
But they had a question: “Where do you think you can help the students?” I dived into the curriculum in order to respond to their query.
The MACS program is focused on “applied perspectives for preventing and countering corruption and establishing solid compliance components.” Beyond that, the IACA takes a holistic approach. The MACS program provides “comprehensive insight into the corruption phenomenon and compliance systems while offering know-how and expertise from non-academic fields.”
That was the key for me. Practicality. Students in the IACA Masters program come from all over the world, and from both corporate compliance and public sector anti-corruption. Many work in places we think of as low-integrity and high-risk — what some theorists have called “cocoons of corruption.”
When it came time to teach the class, the most repeated question the students asked was: “What can we do when the forces impacting the supply and demands for bribes are so strong?” That’s not a rules and procedures question. It’s about the depressing, pervasive, oppressive real-world corruption that’s choking their home countries.
I answered based on my own experience. (I was an international sales director. Then I served more than a year in federal prison for FCPA violations. Now I help companies and organizations get the message of compliance to their people.)
After the MACS teaching session, a number of students e-mailed me. One of the greatest complements I’ve ever received came from a senior leader at a global NGO who said, “Richard, you provided us with concrete take-aways at the end of the video conference that were extremely relevant to my work. I’ll share what you said with my supervisor as concrete recommendations for implementation.”
A student from the corporate sector said he learned that anti-corruption programs (or in his case compliance programs) have to come from the CEO and the board, be backed by organizational action, and articulated through training that covers the worst scenarios employees might find themselves in.
There you have it. Actionable take-aways from students. That’s the best way I know to measure success after teaching a class.
My thanks to the IACA for the opportunity to be part of the MACS program.
Richard Bistrong is a Contributing Editor of the FCPA Blog and the CEO of Front-Line Anti-Bribery LLC. He consults, writes and speaks about compliance issues. He can be reached via his website, twitter and email.