The Accidental Tourist


Stephen PavlicekBy Stephen Pavlicek, Community Engagement Manager, Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics & Health Care Compliance Association

Never did I think that my bachelor’s degree in art would lead me along a path toward the field of compliance and ethics, but here we are. I am working toward my doctorate in education, and I tend to gravitate toward conversations that consider the moral foundations of higher education and its relationship to the public good, and my research focuses on social impact of/and ethical research practices.

The convergence of paths with the compliance field is a soft landing for me. While it’s new, it also feels like I am learning about a distant relative. Derived from conversations with compliance professionals over the last few months, it seems more the case that compliance and ethics finds you and not the other way around – just like Roy Snell advocated for in the Accidental Compliance Professional. As a newbie to the field and to SCCE & HCCA, I thought it might be fun to reflect on some of my learning and observations from the last two months. While flawed, they are my own to hold:

  1. Compliance and Ethics, when seen together, is a paradox. At first, it seemed to me like they were two sides of the same coin, but it is also a misnomer to believe that they are mutually exclusive, either. When I was interviewing for the open Community Engagement Manger position at SCCE/HCCA, Gerry Zack told me something that stuck with me: you can be compliant with a policy, per se, and unethical at the same time. The more I read and the more conversations I tune in to, the more it appears as is the case.
  2. Compliance and Ethics professionals are really tuned-in to making themselves, their professions, programs, and people better at the expense of their own egos. There is a significant ethos of collegiality that permeates this profession more so than experiences that I have had in other professional circles. Sharing of resources, time, and guidance is the norm and this has been an unexpected gift to me as an Engagement Manager. Our internal social network site (SCCE, HCCA) is a terrific example of prioritizing exchanges of knowledge, ideas, and resources.
  3. The theory-to-practice gap is significant. C&E professionals are navigating difficult and complex scenarios in their day-to-day. Best practices listed in print are, at times, distant cousins to practice in the real world. I believe this to be the case because, while the field of compliance navigates dynamic and emerging risk environments, practice is evolving rapidly and these two factors, among many others, are not in step or even complimentary to each other. Staying current on trends and education and finding outlets to a trusted network to exchange knowledge are so critical for the C&E professional. I am happy with the fact that I am safely nestled in on the theory side.
  4. By learning about so many new and diverse ways that misconduct and wrongdoing materialize, I have become hyper-aware of doing wrong. I had been confident about holding to my ethical compass, but I have never been so afraid of doing something wrong at work than now. This has nothing do with SCCE & HCCA. The culture of ethics at the association is strong and positive, and it is a place where I am proud to work. However, working for an organization that is recognized as a thought leader for compliance and ethics professionals does add some extra weight to do the most good.
  5. The outside world does not give enough credit for how fun it is to hang out with Compliance and Ethics professionals!
  6. There is a good chance that we see some additional artistic contributions to the blog (not taking anything away from Adam’s Badly Drawn Compliance cartoons here), stay tuned….

My role as Community Engagement Manager is to help deliver the association’s number two missional function, “To provide a forum for interaction and information exchange among compliance professionals worldwide (” My position exists to support you as you become involved with our learning community. I want to help find paths and ways for you to contribute, connect, and engage so that, ultimately our collective exchange will strengthen both your own practice and the whole compliance and ethics profession. This includes little things like sharing content and experiences on our social media site or writing for this blog…or doing a podcast. But we also want you to consider more significant engagement opportunities like writing for our magazines, speaking at a conference, hosting a webinar, or even running for our Board of Directors. If you have an idea that helps us and the profession better connect, please get in touch with me.

Stephen (Steve) Pavlicek

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