Building a Career in Compliance and Ethics: Find Your Place in the Business World’s Hottest New Field

By Joseph E. Murphy and Joshua H. Leet

Published by the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics; 198 pages; hardcover, $34.95; ISBN: 978-0979221026

Reviewed by Paul E. Zikmund

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DECEMBER 2007 - Building a Career in Compliance and Ethics is an excellent read. In the beginning chapters, the authors provide thorough background information on why and how interested professionals can enter the field of compliance. The authors’ explanation of why the demand for compliance professionals continues to rise lays a solid foundation for the rest of the book. I was impressed with his ability to define not only the field of compliance but also the different titles of compliance professionals and how these individuals fit into the corporate structure.

The book effectively provides insight into the skills, experience, and education needed to be successful in this field. I particularly enjoyed how the authors defined the compliance profession and differentiated how this area has grown significantly as a result of recent legislation. They even provide, in the appendices, an overview of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which serves as the foundation of all compliance programs.

One section describes a day in the life of a compliance officer, which is very helpful to someone unfamiliar with this field. It covers the type of issues compliance professionals deal with on a daily basis. Examples include sexual harassment claims, allegations of fraud, environmental concerns, and anti-corruption training. The discussion on these issues helps the reader obtain a thorough understanding of what compliance professionals are responsible for.

Although the book contains significant materials for those wishing to learn more about the compliance field, it may also be useful for someone already practicing in this area, as there are many references to other resource materials throughout the book.

The field of compliance is quite large. The book does a great job of breaking down the field into various segments and exploring ways in which professionals can pursue many different types of compliance roles. It further emphasizes the need for experienced professionals and points to how readers can gain the requisite experience and education. The authors describe a variety of career paths that an individual can in the compliance profession. The analogy of how a person can position oneself for future opportunities from the experience gained as a compliance professional is excellent. Many compliance professionals express concern about hitting a glass ceiling, but the authors describe effective methods to go beyond compliance in any company.

Two chapters discuss compliance opportunities for lawyers and privacy and data protection. These chapters provide interesting insight into how individuals can transition form their current career paths to a career in compliance. Many compliance positions include legal or data protection responsibilities, so it is important to have a strong background in one or both areas to be considered for a position.

Perhaps the most interesting section focuses on the real-life experiences of compliance professionals in the field: One section contains five interviews with professionals ranging from compliance counsels to law professors. Each person describes their current job responsibilities and provides insight into how and why they entered the field. Additionally, the interviewees describe the type of experience and education that are relevant to compliance roles. Understanding what others believe to be important qualities in the field can help newcomers become successful.

As the field continues to grow, more college courses have been developed to educate compliance professionals, and the book provides an excellent overview. It also includes a comprehensive model curriculum for a compliance and ethics course. The authors discuss organizations that offer compliance-related certifications and training, and notes additional resources that would interest to readers pursuing further training. This section serves as an excellent reference for compliance professionals, as well as those interested in entering the profession.

There is a chapter dedicated to selling compliance services. One difficulty of building a compliance program is obtaining buy-in and support from senior management. The compliance area, similar to security and fraud prevention, is sometimes viewed as a cost center, and it is difficult for professionals to effectively define the return on investment. Selling such services requires gaining the support from senior management to build a robust compliance program. The authors provide sales tips such as “protecting the brand and company reputation” as a way for professionals to better market their compliance services. The book also provides useful hints to help professionals analyze their audience and design an effective sales approach to use during discussions with senior management.

Overall, Building a Career in Compliance and Ethics is a great resource for compliance professionals and those considering a transition into the field. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about careers in compliance, as well as to those currently in the field.


Paul E. Zikmund, CFE, CFD, is a principal, enterprise risk management/fraud and forensic services, at Solomon-
EdwardsGroup LLC, Wayne, Pa.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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