If there was one theme from Compliance Week 2016 it was the continued evolution of the role of the chief compliance officer and the compliance profession. Long gone are the days when someone is sent over from the legal department into the compliance department or worse, some lawyer who is just given the title of chief compliance officer and this is considered a best practice or even sufficient. Representatives from the Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission made clear they expect a CCO to know more than simply the laws of anti-corruption but to actually work at compliance in an organization.

Interestingly another session entitled “Remediation, Cooperation and Other Good Times in an FCPA Investigation” featured three compliance professionals who have had the experience of making presentations to the Justice Department where the new Compliance Counsel Hui Chen was present. They were Dan Chapman, formerly of Cameron International and Parker Drilling, Kurt Drake, SVP & chief compliance officer at General Cable, and Rob Sacasa, VP compliance at General Cable.

All three spoke about Hui Chen testing whether the compliance program was “real,” meaning had they been able to operationalize it into the organization. This step of operationalizing your compliance program entails moving far beyond being Dr. No from the Land of No. You have to move your compliance initiatives down into the business functions, which oversee each step of the process. This means working with HR, IT, internal audit, finance, sales, marketing, business development, supply chain, and all the other corporate functions.

Moreover this means moving past simply teaching rules and regulations. You have got to be able to tell the story of compliance to effectively communicate compliance training. These are simply not skills taught in law school where the emphasis is on learning to think like a lawyer. Such skills are woefully lacking in the business world.

From the opening panel at Compliance Week 2016 to the final panel, the clear emphasis was on where we need to take the profession. We are clearly far past the point of taking a legalistic approach to compliance. The lesson of the day: compliance needs a compliance approach.