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Welcome to Six Questions with an Ethics & Compliance Officer, a new interview series created in conjunction with 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? 

I started in November 2007 for Siemens Mexico, where I implemented their compliance system. At first, the focus was local, but then extended to Central America and the Dominican Republic. My first position was Implementation Manager. Later, I became responsible for the Siemens Industry and Infrastructure & Cities Sectors in Mesoamerica. I moved from Mexico City to Atlanta, where I have been Regional Compliance Officer for the Americas (mainly the US, Mexico and Brazil) since the beginning of 2015 for Primetals Technologies, a joint venture of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and Siemens.

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

An archaeologist or astronaut. Even though this never worked out, I can include ideas from these and other fields in compliance workshops. Valuable messages from historic figures like Leonardo da Vinci or, surprisingly, Niccolò Machiavelli can be applied to compliance concepts. Additionally, organizations with a competitive environment like NASA (where “failure is not an option”) are ideal to use as a benchmark or for inspiration.

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

Compliance is a strategic function based on continuous risk assessment. Risks have to be managed and, ideally, reduced. This may increase short-term costs, but it ensures sustainable business practices that maximize long-term profit. When a company is transparent in its transactions, it shows respect to the customer, to society, and to its own employees.

Compliance officers have to live this philosophy and “walk the talk.” This may be challenging, as the message is easy, but its execution is not always. There are pressures and temptations in every market. Only if I understand the business and these circumstances, will employees perceive me as a trusted adviser who can work with them to find solutions to a particular challenge.

Of course, it is most rewarding to receive positive feedback – especially when employees share their experiences and spark further discussions. In some cases, employees or external partners have been motivated to spread the message inside their families or even to schools and universities.

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

Sorry, but I’d like to mention four: sense of justice, curiosity, knowledge and flexibility.

Of course an Ethics & Compliance Officer has to be knowledgeable, particularly about his or her own topic, but also about business, technology, culture, languages (if their responsibility includes other countries) and human behavior. Based on this information, we can build empathy and try to establish an environment that is as just as possible. Business is complex, and not all potential scenarios can be defined by guidelines. So, it is imperative that corporate values are alive so that business can adapt to all situations while staying inside the law.

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

Individuals feel an inner need for a positive self-image. They want to be proud of the company they work for. Work decisions should be compatible with personal values and attitudes. Therefore, employees are open to an ethics and compliance-message. In my experience, it is important to not only explain the rules, but also why they exist. When employees are aware of the cost of corruption, they can develop empathy for the victims and not perceive corruption as a “faceless-crime.”

For this, training and workshops have to be adapted to different cultures. This includes, of course, different global regions, but different locations within the same country may also have different cultures, requiring adjustments to the message. In general, a workshop in a higher risk country is easier to conduct. Employees know about the negative effects of corruption, and it is no abstract topic for them. Such events should be interactive and may include case discussions prior to role-play. Also, the atmosphere should be open so that the group can discuss controversial opinions.

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson defined that planets don’t technically orbit their host stars, but both effectively orbit their common center of mass. An organization is not a system with its head at the top. Rather, emotion and knowledge are distributed over the whole system. As employees, we have our own center of mass inside the overall company. For this area, we are responsible for promoting ethical behavior. If an employee wants to do more, their Ethics & Compliance department can help. For example, an employee can take on the role of “Ethics Champion” or “Ambassador” for their location. This can be a first step to a career inside the E&C department.

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

Ethics and Compliance is a fascinating area. On the one hand, it supports the company’s long-term success, but also includes a social component. As more and more countries implement or strengthen their anti-corruption laws, the need for E&C will increase in the future. But, like most of today’s workplaces, E&C will also change and evolve. Artificial Intelligence will open up new opportunities to automate standard processes, such as contract reviews. AI will also offer additional services like chatbots, which could be used as a potential compliance app. The big question to discuss is which corporate function should ensure that tomorrow’s AI decisions are based on values, guidelines, and laws? Due to its experience, it should be the Ethics and Compliance department!

ABOUT PATRICK HENZ

Patrick Henz started his career in Compliance at the end of 2007, when he was responsible for the implementation of the Siemens Anti-Corruption program in Mexico and several Central American and Caribbean countries. Together with these tasks, he gained valuable insights into global Compliance programs, with a focus on Latin America. Since 2009 in his role as Compliance Officer he is responsible for an effective Compliance program; based on identification, protection, detection, response & recovery and combined with integrity, respect, passion & sustainability. With these means, he defines Compliance as a proactive function, being perceived as guardian, expert, and facilitator. The focus is on information to ensure adequate behavior, not only of the human employee, but Artificial Intelligence included. This means the regular planning and execution of Compliance Risk Assessments and further global reviews. According to an effective sustainability strategy, where Compliance plays a key role, he actively promotes the idea at university workshops and conferences (including the ACI Compliance Boot-Camp 2013, ’16 and ‘17 in Houston). Doing so, he became two times President of Honor of Marcus Evans’ Latin-American Corporate Compliance Conference 2011 and 2012 in Mexico City and co-founder of the Ethics & Compliance Forum Mexico, including editor and co-author of the Ethics & Compliance Manual, published in April 2014.

Since July 2013, Patrick Henz is based in the Atlanta area, first as responsible Compliance Officer for Customer Services and Metal Technologies at Siemens Industry Inc., then since January 2015 as Regional Compliance Officer Americas for Primetals Technologies (A joint venture of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and Siemens). As compliance today is a part of the business strategy, he had been a panelist at the 25th The Economist Mexico Summit to discuss “Mexico’s Law and Order: Economics of Corruption”. In 2016 he had been a guest lecturer at the Tec of Monterrey for the first Mexican Compliance Certification and the CEF (Madrid) for the Compliance Officer Training.