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Corporate Counsel University: Managing Risk and Compliance

I n the first breakout afternoon session of Corporate Counsel University’s first day, panelists Amanda Allen, senior legal editor, corporate and transactional of Bloomberg Law; Atinuke Diver, associate director of ethics education at the University of Carolina at Chapel Hill; and Julie Gresham, senior counsel and director of compliance, Huntington Ingalls Industries, Inc. discussed how they got into compliance and tips for managing risk. The highly interactive program got many audience polls. About half of the attendees were the first person to hold a compliance role at their companies.
The panelists provided basic compliance frameworks for both international and US-based companies. Gresham said she was recruited for a compliance role despite practicing litigation for 14 years prior to her current position. She had to jump in and started with the federal sentencing guidelines. Her mission is to focus on the prevention, detection, and remediation of misconduct. Paper compliance programs won’t cut it anymore, she says. To be effective, compliance programs need to be active. It comes down to a simple question: Are your employees empowered to do their job?
Another topic they covered was the difference between ethics and compliance. Ethics is doing the right there and compliance is following the law, but it’s more complex than that. It’s not as easy to agree what is right and wrong. A lot of it comes from your background. You have to give employees a scope.
Diver says that the most important part of a compliance program is to ensure your personal integrity. The compliance department will be viewed as the company’s conscience. Gresham adds that having a strong will is very important because there will be pressure to circumvent the regulations. She says she brings a senior, career worker — “who knows where all the bodies are buried” — to see how workers may try to get around the new regulations. “It has been immensely helpful,” she says.

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