Note: This is a guest post by Diana Trevley, Spark Compliance Consulting's West Coast Director.
These days there is a high demand for talented individuals to serve as corporate compliance and ethics professionals. With the increased enforcement of anti-corruption and other compliance-related laws throughout the world, more and more organizations are realizing the benefit of proactively implementing robust corporate compliance programs that prevent misconduct from occurring in the first place. Compliance professionals come from a medley of different backgrounds – law, accounting, investigations, teaching, project management - making compliance an appealing option for not only recent graduates, but for experienced professionals looking to transition careers.
If you are considering a career in corporate compliance, the first step is to determine whether corporate compliance is a good fit for you. Whether this career is right for you comes down to your personality, work style, career goals, and lifestyle. There are certain aspects of the job some people will love and others will loathe. Before I decided to transition from litigator to compliance professional, I spoke with many compliance professionals, from Chief Compliance Officers to entry-level analysts, who candidly shared their thoughts with me. Based on their comments and my own experiences in corporate compliance, I have created list of factors to help would-be compliance professionals decide whether to pursue a career in compliance.
Give yourself one point for each of the following statements that applies to you:
__I am able to travel out of town on a semi-regular basis without it disrupting my personal life and obligations.
__ I have an interest in learning about different cultures and I am willing to learn about and respect cultural differences.
__ When faced with delivering difficult news or taking a stand that I know others don’t agree with, I am able to be diplomatic and non-confrontational without acquiescing to pressure to be silent or agree with the majority opinion.
__ When I think something is not right – either legally or ethically – I am able to speak my mind, even if I know that others do not agree.
__ I am comfortable with public speaking in both large and small groups.
__ I enjoy spending much of my day in front of a computer.
__ I am able to handle a variety of tasks and projects throughout the day without getting overwhelmed or missing deadlines.
__ I think it is more important to do what is right than to make other people feel comfortable.
__ It is acceptable for me to have a career where I sometimes have to work late into the night, on weekends, or on holidays.
__ I like learning new things.
__ I consider myself a person of high ethical character – for example, I do not lie on my resume and I don’t steal from an employer.
__ I consider myself a good listener – when someone is speaking I listen to what they have to say and consider it rather than waiting for my turn to speak.
__ I often ponder the root cause of problems.
__ I try to respond to my emails as soon as possible – I do not like a messy inbox.
__ I find it relatively easy to stay relaxed and focused even when there is some pressure regarding a deadline or an outcome.
__ I find that I am able to be impartial and consider the facts when assessing the situation and put my personal feelings aside.
__ I value justice more than mercy.
__ I am organized and I enjoy putting things in order.
__ I like to be engaged in a fast-paced and active job.
__ I believe in following the rules, even if the outcome is not what others or I would like it to be.
__ I tend to be specific and literal when talking to people.
__ I like to think of new creative ways to solve problems.
__ Technology doesn’t scare me.
__ I consider myself to be highly motivated and energetic.
__ I have no difficulties coming up with a personal timetable and sticking to it.
__ I adapt well to new and unexpected situations.
__ I think it is important to establish a process and do things the same way each time.
__ I keep a calm head in a crisis and am able to act rationally, even when others around me are upset.
__ I do not feel the need to be the most popular person in the room.
__ I trust facts, concrete examples and proof rather than relying solely on my intuition or gut instincts.
__ I think first, then act, rather than rushing to take action before I have considered my options.
__ Group discussions stimulate me and give me energy.
__ I love to learn new things.
__ I like thinking up new and more efficient ways to do things.
__ I keep confidential information confidential and I do not gossip at work.
__ I am not intimidated by people in powerful positions such as CEOs of companies or high-level government officials.
__ I am comfortable working in a profession where sometimes it is not always clear what the right course of action is.
__ I want to make the world a better place.
__ I believe that it is not only important for a business to make money, but to be socially responsible and try to improve the lives of its employees and/or customers.
__ People have told me that I am very persuasive.
__ I am a team player – I like to work with other people and I don’t feel a particularly strong need for recognition for everything that I do.
__ I find it easy to introduce myself to other people and be sociable.
__ I think it is important to develop good relationships with people at work even if I don’t work directly for them or with them.
__ I am able to control my emotions and think rationally during high-stress situations.
__ I consider myself to be a natural leader.
__ If there is something that I don’t know, I will take the time to learn it until I am an expert on the subject.
__ I am able to work independently on projects.
__ Others have told me that I have good judgment and rely on me for advice.
__ I can take complex subject matter and make it understandable to someone who doesn’t know anything about the subject matter.
__ The following careers sound fun to me:
__ Middle School Teacher
__ Policy Writer
__ International Speaker
__ Police Officer
__ Project Manager
Total up your score here: ____
If you scored under 25, a career in corporate compliance may not be a good fit for you. If you scored between 26 and 40, corporate compliance may be a good choice for you, particularly if you consider specializing in a particular compliance role that best suits you and your goals. If you scored 41 or more, welcome to the profession! You’ll love it here.
Remember: many people are unhappy with their professions. Don’t be one of them. Take the time to find a career that matches your lifestyle, your personality, and your values and, whether that career is in corporate compliance or not, you will find that you HAVE made the right choice.
Diana Trevley, JD, CCEP-I is the West Coast Director of Spark Compliance Consulting, where she advises companies on the development, implementation, and evaluation of compliance and ethics programs. Prior to joining Spark Compliance, Diana worked as a litigator at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, with a focus on anti-fraud and anti-corruption, internal investigations, and general business litigation. She can be reached at DianaTrevley@SparkCompliance.com.