Section 1

Understanding the Basics

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Get Started with Compliance Fundamentals

Lay the foundation for growth with the core elements of an effective compliance program. From creating a top-notch Code of Conduct to understanding the role compliance plays in your organization, this is the place to learn the building blocks of compliance.

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Each compliance program is unique with disparate risks and various levels of maturity. Although there are a number of nuances determined by your company’s size, industry and location, there are still basic principles that are best practices across the board. In this section you’ll learn about the key skills every compliance professional should have as well as the general knowledge base effective compliance professional have and harness throughout their careers.

Just as there are key skills every modern compliance professional should possess, there are fundamental elements every effective compliance program should practice. This section will introduce you to those key components of a robust compliance program and provide the guidance you need to move your career and program to its next level of sophistication. 

Candid Compliance Conversations: Shanti Atkins

This informational series is focused on providing readers with insights into the compliance industry. By asking thought leaders a variety of candid questions, based on their individual successes, these conversations provide readers from all backgrounds with valuable career advice and nuggets of best practice wisdom.

Shanti Atkins 05/03/2017

This informational series is focused on providing readers with insights into the compliance industry. By asking thought leaders a variety of candid questions, based on their individual successes, these conversations provide readers from all backgrounds with valuable career advice and nuggets of best practice wisdom.

Candid Compliance Conversations
With Shanti Atkins, Founder of NAVEX Global

About Shanti

Shanti is a seasoned entrepreneur and business executive with more than 15 years of experience building innovative, fast-growth organizations. She is the founder of NAVEX Global, the world’s largest ethics and compliance software and services company, with more than 12,500 customers around the globe.

Shanti has unique expertise in building and investing in disruptive technologies that transform the way we think, communicate and behave in the workplace. She has advised some of the world’s leading brands on how to build exceptional cultures and in 2014 was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Ethics.

Along with advising and growing businesses, Shanti has been a featured expert for a wide range of media outlets, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, CNN and The Huffington Post.


What has been the greatest challenge of your career?

Being involved with an industry like compliance -- that's growing and changing so rapidly -- is a challenge in itself. Your job and the requirements for that job, like domain expertise and business expertise, change substantially every six to twelve months. You’re constantly having to learn new things from scratch. You have to be able to consistently meet the demands of a very steep learning curve while at the same time project confidence to investors and to clients. You have to be an expert on a moving target. This is probably what I love most about fast-growth companies in a relatively new industry like compliance, but it's also probably one of the biggest challenges.

How do you keep up with the growth and change in the compliance Industry?

I think you have to make a commitment to continue with self-education in a way that's actually quite regimented. It's one thing to say, "Oh, I'm going to learn more about X, Y, and Z” or “I'm going to try and read more on this topic.” It's another thing to actually execute on that. So I'm a big believer that a minimum of an hour in your calendar each week should be dedicated to pure personal education. For me, I split that hour by focusing half on subject matter expertise in new areas that I feel like I need to fine tune my learning or acquire new knowledge. The other half is related to broader business skills and gaining a better understanding of emerging markets and business growth. That's a really specific, tactical answer but I actually think it's a great discipline to get into – to actually calendar your educational time.

Are there any necessary skills or experiences that you think professionals need to be successful in compliance?

There are two. One is a little old school, and the other is more practical and leading edge. First, I calendar into my weekly schedule a minimum of 30 minutes – often it'll be longer than that – where I pause to think about managing connections and relationships, both within the companies I work and with the new people I meet. It can be difficult to connect regularly to that network of contacts and continue to grow them, especially if you're just starting out or a mid-level person in compliance in a large organization. You're probably not being compensated for that. No one is going to give you a pat on the back for doing that. It doesn't cross anything off an official to-do list, but in the bigger picture it's incredibly important to your work and to you as a compliance professional.

Compliance professionals also need to possess the ability to process quantitative data while also having the ability to qualitatively pull different components together. They need to be able to piece together the puzzle of risk and behavior to actually drive better business returns. I think a lot of that comes down to understanding how to manage relationships and connect with people in ways that aren't defined for you in a linear org chart. The skill comes in nurturing those connections, having a desire and willingness to learn about domains outside your own, and then being proactive to connect those pieces together.

For those in the early stages of their careers, what advice would you give them to prepare for interviews and next steps in their careers?

I think in terms of interviewing, I continue to be really surprised by how most people are not as prepared as they could be for an interview. The access to information that's available today through LinkedIn, basic Google searches, and working your network are pretty extraordinary compared to what it was even five or 10 years ago. You should walk into an interview knowing a lot about the person who's interviewing you. The more I talk with fellow business people about how they think and feel about recruiting and interviewing, the more I see that this expectation is normal. So do more homework than you think you have to.

Whether you are preparing for an interview or just getting your grounding in the field, determine what it is that makes you passionate about your work and what gives you a broader sense of purpose beyond just having a job and collecting a paycheck. A lot of people aren't prepared to answer that question, and I think that's unfortunate for two reasons. First and foremost, it's not good to not have a response to an interviewer when they ask you that – how you personally connect to the “why” of the business. Second, I think that's a really important question to ask yourself when you're starting your career or managing your career. What about this particular opportunity, beyond the typical things that you expect when you look at a job, is going to really fulfill something broader for you and paint a larger picture of a career story? Really questioning how you can be passionate about a business will help you figure out where you want to work and what positions you want to pursue in the first place.


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Some great tips and takeaways for me on in this article. I plan on implementing a few today! Thanks!

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May 5, 2017, 1:11 p.m. Sheila Whitaker Sheila Whitaker

Great insight, Shanti! I can't agree more on the importance of keeping the bigger picture in your sights. It makes the day-to-day tedium that much more meaningful when you understand where it informs, disrupts or connects to that "holistic perspective."

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May 4, 2017, 10:14 a.m. Cody Bland Cody Bland