Welcome to Six Questions with an Ethics & Compliance Officer, a new interview series created in conjunction with National Compliance Officer Day. Each post will shine the spotlight on a different member of the E&C community, from established CCOs and CECOs with years of experience to rising stars with a passion for ethical behavior. 

Q: How long have you been working in ethics and compliance? 

About 10 years.

Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up? 

A few things: judge, prosecutor, and journalist. For a brief time, I also thought I wanted to be a stage manager or a director on Broadway.

Q: What are some of the most rewarding and challenging parts of your job?

My favorite parts of my work, both former and current, are when I am able to help solve problems and when I am able to show people new ways of thinking about things: I love diagnosing problems, coming up with solutions, and getting people to the “Aha!” moments.

The challenging parts are usually dealing with bureaucracy and stale mind sets. When I was in-house, there was always a lot of anxiety and stress as well.

Q: What are three important traits a Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer should possess? 

Common sense, social intelligence, and a backbone.

Q: If someone wanted to get more involved in promoting ethical behavior in their organization today, what could they do? 

Start modeling that behavior.

Q: What advice would you give to recent college graduates and other professionals who may want to pursue a career in ethics and compliance?

Be clear about why you want to pursue this, or any other, career. Make sure you understand what you are getting into and it is what you want.

BONUS Q: What books would you recommend to fellow compliance professionals? 

I love the Freakonomics series, and also the Malcolm Gladwell books.


Hui Chen is an ethics and compliance expert with experiences across the industries and around the globe. Until June 2017, she served as the first exclusive Compliance Counsel Expert at the U.S. Department of Justice, where she assisted the prosecutors in the evaluation of corporate compliance programs and authored the list of questions used in these evaluations. Previously, she had served as in compliance leadership roles in financial services (Standard Chartered Bank), pharmaceutical (Pfizer), and technology (Microsoft) sectors. Ms. Chen had begun her career as a prosecutor in the US Department of Justice in Washington DC and New York.  Ms. Chen speaks Italian, Chinese, and Russian, has lived and worked in Moscow, Kiev, Munich, Beijing, New York, London, and Washington DC, and conducted compliance investigations and reviews in Europe, Asia, South America, and the Middle East. She currently consults with governments and companies around the world on compliance strategies and is a highly sought-after keynote speaker at ethics & compliance events. You can keep up with Hui Chen by following her on Twitter or visiting her website.