Compliance and Ethics Professional Magazine Cover Story Q&A

How fun is this!?!  I’m honoured to be on the cover of this month’s Compliance and Ethics Professional Magazine!!  It’s a Q&A with the Godfather of Compliance, Joe Murphy.  Here’s a copy of the article:

Q:  Why did you decide to write the book? 

A: I saw that many of my peers were brilliant technical compliance practitioners, but that they had tremendous trouble obtaining buy-in from the Board or their managers.  After mentoring several people and teaching them to use sales skills to sell compliance to their internal audience, I decided to write my book.  How to Be a Wildly Effective Compliance Officer was written to reach compliance officers throughout the world to teach them how to be effective through the use of influence and persuasion.

Q:  How did you get into the compliance and ethics field?

A: Unexpectedly I began my career with a film degree from UCLA.  I worked in Hollywood for a few years then went to law school.  After I graduated I worked at Gibson Dunn in Los Angeles in their FCPA practice working on corporate monitorships and creating and testing compliance programs.  Gibson Dunn moved me to London to work on the LIBOR banking scandal in 2011.  While there I married a lovely British man and decided to go in-house.  I became the Director of Compliance for Carlson Wagonlit Travel for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, then moved on to be the first Chief Compliance Officer at United International Pictures, the joint distribution company for Paramount Pictures and Universal Pictures in 65+ countries.  My whole legal practice was focused around compliance-related areas, so the move in-house was an obvious choice.  

Q: What would you say to someone thinking about getting into the field? 
A: Compliance and ethics is exciting!  People who aren’t in the field tend to think that compliance is boring, but we get to do all the sexy stuff.  We do internal investigations, travel to do training throughout the business and the world, and get to protect people from retaliation.  It’s an amazing job.  I think the compliance profession is still in its infancy.  I’d encourage anyone with an interest in compliance to join the industry!  I recently started consulting multi-nationals in the creation and optimizing of compliance programs through my company, Spark Compliance Consulting.  There is tremendous opportunity in the compliance profession.  

Q: From what you have seen of compliance and ethics people, what are the things most in need of change for them to become “wildly effective?”

A: I think the biggest thing is for people to think about what’s in it for the business or the person they need to influence.  Many people believe that if someone in the compliance department told someone to do something that they should do it.  In an ideal world this is true, but as we don’t live in an ideal world, we need to become skilled at influencing people and persuading them that it is in their best interest to work with us, be compliant, and act ethically.  Learning to influence someone by working with their motivation is the first big step to becoming wildly effective.

Q: One of your key elements is the ability to listen.  Don’t most people already listen?  What do they need to do differently? 

A: There is a big difference between passive listening and active listening.  Active listening engages the talker so that they keep talking because they are really feeling heard.  Most of the time people are only half-listening or planning what they are going to say next instead of listening with the intention of comprehending what is being said.  Active listening creates investment in the other person so that they want to hear what you have to say. 

Q: How important do you think public speaking is for this profession?  Don’t employees already know they need to listen to the compliance officer?

A: The capacity to speak well in public is a hallmark of a wildly effective compliance officer.  Whether it is performing in-person training or presenting to the Board, the capacity to confidently and clearly talk about the program and risk is a critical skill.  People who aren’t confident pubic speakers tend to think that people who are good at it are just somehow naturally gifted.  While there may be some people who like to speak in public more than others, good public speaking skills can be learned and practiced.  The investment in yourself is well worth it.  At higher levels of business, competency at public speaking is required for progression and effectiveness.

Q: You are at an SCCE conference talking with a CECO who is worried about the report she has to give to her company’s audit committee tomorrow.  What specific advice would you give her for that presentation? 

A:  I would tell her to focus on the outcome she’s desiring.  She should visualize the outcome she wants and create her presentation in a way obvious leads to the outcome she desires.  If she has to present a problem, she should present the problem in the same frame as a potential solution.  If she’s had a major compliance failure, she should have some ideas about remediation that she can present so they continue to have faith in her.  When you know the outcome you desire you are much more likely to achieve it.

Q: Here’s a different CECO.  This one is at a company that’s in trouble.  When he returns home he has to participate in a presentation to government enforcement people to convince them his company has a strong program.  How would you coach this person?
A: I’ve been in this position when I was in private practice.  This could go one of two ways.  If the CECO has a good program, I’d tell him to focus on what has gone well within the program and to prepare the documentation to prove it.  The government doesn’t expect perfection.  It expects good faith effort and a well-thought-out and executed program.  If the CECO doesn’t have a good program, I would tell him to think about the resources he needs to build one and to make a list of his requests to bring to the business.  Don’t let a good crisis go to waste.  He should use the opportunity to build a better and more robust program because the business will need him to do so quickly.

Q: Can compliance and ethics people really take your book and make themselves effective?  Is it that easy? 

A: The book teaches specific ways to approach the profession which can make anyone more effective.  One of the most common reviews I get is, “The techniques taught in this book would work for anyone in business.”  I had one reviewer buy a copy for her son who was in sales because she thought the lessons on persuasion, motivation and influence would help him.  Simply reading the book can make you more effective, but to become wildly effective requires time, repeated effort and practice. 

Q: Do you see any examples of well-known people who practice what you talk about in the book?  Any highly visible examples?

A: Lisa Beth Lentini, the Vice President of Global Compliance at Carlson Wagonlit Travel, was my first boss and she taught me brilliantly.  She’s been nominated and won awards in the compliance and governance field and I admire her tremendously.  She’s both a great practitioner and a great manager. 

Q: Where is the first place for someone to start in using the ideas in the book?

A: The first thing people can do is to use some of the ideas on humanizing yourself with the business.  Too many compliance officers are busy being responsible when they need to make time to make friends and be colleagues with the senior managers, C-suite
and Board members.  Take time to hang out with people at the water-cooler.  Go out to happy hours and dinners with your co-workers when you’re asked.  You will make yourself much more popular and approachable if you talk about your kids, pets, hobbies, the weather or sports.  Pick something relatable and people will become used to talking to you.  That will help them to trust you when something bad happens.

Q: Are there some ideas that if one is not careful they could backfire?  Are there particular ideas where a compliance professional needs to be careful?
A: Well I suppose if you spend too much time talking at the water-cooler and going to the bar that could negatively affect your reputation!  It’s a matter of balance.  You need to be both a friend to people in the business but separate enough to be respected and to not show favoritism.  You have to find that balance.

Q: Your book covers quite a bit of territory.  Have you actually applied all these things in your own career?

A: Every day I try to practice what I preach.  Becoming a wildly effective compliance officer is always a work in progress.  No matter what, when I get up in the morning I think, “Right, how can I do it better today?”  Every day I’m happy to be in this profession, and that passion makes it much easier to be wildly effective.

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Kristy Grant-Hart

Kristy Grant-Hart

Kristy Grant-Hart is the founder and CEO of Spark Compliance.
She's a renowned expert at transforming compliance departments into in-demand business assets.

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