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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? 

Formally, my title has included ethics and compliance for over 8 years.  However, I could argue over 20 years since I have been an in-house lawyer focused on proactive advice since earning my law degree. Before joining Whirlpool, I was assistant general counsel and director of Group Legal Affairs and Corporate Ethics at Masco Corporation. Prior to joining Masco, I was an attorney at Ford Motor Credit Company where I started my career working on consumer, wholesale and commercial financing.

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

When I was young, I wanted to be a dentist until I found out that spatial reasoning is not my strongest skill. Fortunately, I realized that in high school. In college, my business interests led me to a degree in Economics, which I then combined with my legal interests to pursue an in-house counsel career path.

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

I find my job very rewarding because of the dynamic range of responsibilities, such as setting and executing various strategies to protect the company and to help employees make informed and compliant decisions. In addition, I get to work with many talented people across the organization.

One of the challenges is the time demand of a global role. When your company has locations in China or India and you are located in the United States, it makes the day long for everyone involved.

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

I believe the three traits a Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer needs are:

1) Strong business acumen – you must understand the business to assess risk and to operate effectively and efficiently.

2) Calm leadership – you need to be able to lead, even during a crisis, cross-functionally and reach beyond your direct reports to motivate, inspire, support and engage others.

3) Innovative problem solver – you need to be able to find timely solutions for often unique circumstances while leveraging available resources.

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

It is easy to get involved if you want to promote the culture in your company. First, be a role model. Walk the talk and recognize other people’s ethical behaviors. Second, ask your compliance team if you could help out on a project. Most teams will welcome the offer to help.

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

One important piece of advice that I have for someone interested in pursuing a compliance career is that the compliance field has many opportunities and you need to evaluate them carefully. The scope of the compliance role varies from company to company. Some roles focus only on one aspect, like training or investigations. Others are very broad and encompass everything from third party due diligence to risk management. Research the company and role carefully before joining so you understand if it is a good fit for you.

BONUS Q: What attracted you to Whirlpool?

I was attracted to Whirlpool because of its iconic brands. The company was also completing two significant acquisitions. It was an exciting moment to join and to help the company expand their strong values-based culture and heritage of integrity. Since joining, I have been impressed by the leadership support we have to apply new and innovative approaches that drive results and achieve a competitive advantage by embedding compliance into the business. For example, that senior-level trust has freed us to explore engaging learning activities that are helping us bust the orthodoxy of compliance as boring. Our most frequent feedback tells me we’ve found solutions that work: “It was so interesting, I forgot it was legal training!”

ABOUT KIM YAPCHAI

Kim Yapchai is Chief Compliance Officer of Whirlpool Corporation. Whirlpool Corporation is the number one major appliance manufacturer in the world with approximately $21 billion in annual sales and 93,000 employees in 2016. The company markets WhirlpoolKitchenAidMaytagConsulBrastemp, AmanaBauknechtJenn-AirIndesit and other major brand names in nearly every country throughout the world. Kim helps the company maintain a reputation for high integrity that inspires stakeholder confidence and encourages speaking up. Her team focuses on building confident and educated business teams who understand risks and make smart, compliant decisions. Kim is known for her ability to work proactively with clients to find practical solutions. You can stay up to date with Whirlpool by visiting their website and following them on Twitter.