September 26th is National Compliance Officer Day. For the next few weeks, ECI will be highlighting a number of our members in celebration of their contribution to our industry. Our goal is to share some insight on two of the groups that comprise ECI’s membership – established CECOs, new CECOs and those who desire to be a CECO.
A conversation with Chris DePIPPO and David Childers, Senior Vice President, ECI.
Chris DePIPPO, CCEP
VP, Ethics, Compliance, and Government Affairs
David Childers (DC): Please meet Chris DePIPPO. Chris is Vice President and Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer with responsibility to lead the global ethics and compliance office at DXC Technology. He and his team are responsible for promoting an organizational culture of ethics and compliance, and to administer programs designed to prevent and detect organizational misconduct.
Chris how did you start your career in ethics and compliance?
Chris DePIPPO - My compliance career began with the arrival in 2002 of the Sarbanes Oxley legislation. I had been making my way as a finance guy when after the Enron and WorldCom accounting scandals Congress responded with SOX. My CFO tapped me and several others to sort out our obligations under SOX and, although I didn’t know it then, my compliance career was officially underway.
...in my view, the best of us run to the fire, not from it. It’s not as fun otherwise.
- Chris DePIPPO
DC – I understand, SOX changed my life too. I found myself in uncharted waters constantly.
CD – No kidding. In 2007, I became the ethics and compliance officer for Affiliated Computer Services’ government solutions group, where I performed my first ever compliance risk assessment and, in response, designed compliance programs aligned to bribery/corruption, false claims, privacy, and international trade exposures.
DC – SOX created a lot of “firsts” and being in the “deep end of the pool” for lots of us. After ACS, you became the first ever Chief Compliance Officer and Director of ERM for Computer Sciences Corporation. What prompted the move?
CD – It was a great next opportunity to become the Chief Compliance Officer of a significantly larger global multinational. And later, in response to a significant SEC investigation into accounting and disclosure practices, CSC’s board directed that I consolidate CSC’s disparate ethics and compliance organizations, develop and lead values-and culture-based program, and steer that program through a two-year evaluation of its effectiveness by the SEC.
DC – Chris, I know you were successful because of the very positive outcome of CSC’s transformation.
CD – Thanks. And of course, the CSC brand is now retired, and six months after the merger between CSC and the Enterprise Services division of Hewlett Packard Enterprise and 15 years since the arrival of Sarbanes-Oxley, I serve as DXC Technology’s VP, Ethics, Compliance, and Government Affairs.
DC – Congratulations. Finance to compliance isn’t a big stretch but you are now 15 years into the career. What kept you engaged with compliance?
CD - Unlike those who somehow know they’re destined for the classroom, the laboratory, the firehouse, or the ball field, I couldn’t define early on with any clarity or precision what I’d like to do professionally. After seeing Wall Street and reading Liar’s Poker I became convinced I’d be a stockbroker after college. When that didn’t come together, I took a job at the Lockheed Martin Corporation and went on to B-school, where my focus on finance delivered the job that exposed me to compliance. I’ve always tried to make the most of each opportunity I’m given, and as it’s happened recently those opportunities have been in ethics and compliance.
I’m not a lawyer, as so many of my ethics officer colleagues are, and I think this drives a somewhat rare pragmatism in the role. I like what I do, as it demands strategic and tactical strengths, and competency in so many areas. I am a change agent, culture steward, risk manager, auditor, investigator, marketer, trainer. And I find my approach surprises—indeed, so many people all over the world have told me that my briefings and “town halls” are livelier and more entertaining than most any other ethics briefing they’ve had. So, it seems I’m good at it, and my experiences as an ethics officer in a declining multi-national organization have been extraordinary along the way. That’s why I stick with it.
DC – Chris, I know from our interactions that you have great personality and I like your approach. What advice can you share with others who are thinking about compliance as a career?
CD - I think if you’re going to be successful in my field and have a noteworthy reputation, oddly and perversely you almost want to go through the sort of thing I did with the SEC. It’s horrible for a company and its shareholders, but rich for the ethics and compliance professional. It’s almost like without it you don’t ever reach the top of your profession. So in my view, the best of us run to the fire, not from it. It’s not as fun otherwise.#ECIMemberSpotlight