1,500 Strong – A Recap of the 2014 SCCE CEI

by Matt Stankiewicz

This year’s Compliance and Ethics Institute (CEI) celebrated the 10th anniversary of the SCCE in grand fashion. The 2014 CEI in Chicago was one to be remembered. 1,500 compliance professionals descended on the city to celebrate the further evolution of the profession. And that was one of the biggest takeaways from the milestone event, one that was echoed by a number of attendees – just how far the entire profession has come since the inception of the SCCE.

Scott, Michael, and Donna discussing the latest RAND symposium report

Donna and invited RAND whitepaper authors Scott Killingsworth and Mike Volkov launch the 2014 RAND symposium report with RAND Chair Michael Greenberg.

1. Ethics & Compliance as a Profession.  What struck us at Compliance Strategists in particular about this year’s SCCE CEI, is that the field has reached a maturity level which really makes it a true profession. No longer an off shoot of what Legal or the Auditors do not want or will not do, the number of other professionals whom we met who have independence, line of sight, and are empowered by their organizations was truly amazing. The profession is coming into its own.

2. Esprit De Corps. This goes along with reaching a professional maturity level that requires strategic rather than just tactical thinking as cooperation and collaboration were constant themes. In almost every session we attended there was an acknowledgement not only from the tactical perspective that no ethics and compliance professional can achieve their mandate without help from others but more importantly from the strategic perspective that you can’t create a ethical culture without others standing alongside you.

3. Seeking a Higher Goal. When talking with other attendees, most describe their responsibilities as creating an ethical culture that contributes to their organization’s success rather than just compliance with the law. Thus many are reaching for the higher goal and not just setting the bar at the lowest possible rung of just complying with the law. 1

Donna and Judi in "The Relationship Roadmap"

Donna and Judi in “The Relationship Roadmap”

4. The Buzz of Thought Leadership.  The Buzz of thought leadership and camaraderie was unmistakeable throughout the CEI, with its unique receptions, speed mentoring, Tweet-Up, and community service networking opportunities. All of us at Compliance Strategists were happy to see and chat with so many of our peers from our EthiTweep and though networks! In particular, we were thrilled that the RAND Center of Corporate Ethics and Governance – a GREAT friend to the profession – chose to launch its 2014 Symposium Report at the CEI, assisted by two of its invited white paper authors, Scott Killingsworth and Michael Volkov. Each of the 100+ attendees left with their own “Hot Off the Presses” bound copy of the new report. That’s what we call thought leadership!

5. SCCE “Our Powerful Friend.”  As Michael Scher, senior editor for the popular FCPA Blog, has observed in his comprehensive 4-part recap,

“Compliance professionals, who so often find themselves on the other side of arguments with senior management, understand the need for true friends and powerful ones at that. The SCCE is our powerful friend. While we do the daily work of compliance officers, the SCCE is organizing the compliance profession.”

Donna says: “As a veteran of 20+ years of compliance conferences and events, I can attest with vigor that Scher is right on target. What Scher has characterized as “the second generation” of compliance professionals is literally at a tipping point of breaking free from the grips of in-house legal and achieving true empowerment to do their jobs well, but this is fiercely opposed by those who benefit richly from the status quo. Thus, as Scher suggests, the profession needs its powerful friends more now than ever.


For further insights on how far the compliance and ethics field has come, read Mike Scher’s reflections of the event, including a noteworthy whistleblower anecdote included in Part 2: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4


Additionally, Michael Volkov made his own observations on the growth of the profession in his blog post, Where the Action is: The SCCE Annual Meeting.


The 2014 award winners and presenters

The 2014 award winners and presenters

The awards dinner was the highlight of the conference for all of us here at Compliance Strategists, as Donna Boehme was one of the recipients of the 10th Annual International Compliance & Ethics Award. In the spirit of the conference, Donna shared her own story of perseverance as she fought through rehab after a stroke earlier this year. The speech, which noted that this celebration and all those who came to attend were the major motivating point of her “17-point breakout plan,” highlighted a successful recovery and placed an emphatic exclamation point on an outstanding ceremony.

Watch Donna’s speech, along with Joe Murphy’s introduction of “the Lion of Compliance,” here.

Overall, this year’s SCCE CEI was a wonderful show of unity of progress for the compliance community. Credit goes out to the leadership and staff of the SCCE for delivering another outstanding, one-of-a-kind thought leadership event – best of the year! Bravo for such a job well done. We all look forward to next year in Vegas!




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