What Julie Myers Wood, Former Head of I.C.E. for the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security and current CEO at Guidepost Solutions, Can Teach Us About The Importance of Compliance When Something Goes Terribly Wrong

Last week I was speaking with Guidepost Solutions CEO Julie Myers Wood, and she was explaining the two different ways in handling a compliance crisis and resulting search warrants and governmental investigation. One way was to fully cooperate, and the other, the wrong way, was to challenge the government every step of the way on every front possible. The former business practice preserves the integrity of the company, while the latter ultimately damages the reputation of the company in immeasurable and possibly non-rehabilitative ways; and this mishandling ultimately impacts the war for talent.

CEO Myers Wood explained that CEOs need to think of these issues up front to secure the company’s reputation — thinking proactively instead of reactively, saying: “CEOs play a pivotal role in shaping their company’s compliance culture and protecting it from outside influence. Time and time again, we have seen firms with great potential fail for not moving at the pace of the digital evolution. Last year, the number of data breach incidents hit a record high of 1,579 in the U.S., some of which have taken companies to a point of no return.”

Prior to joining Guidepost Solutions, Julie served as Head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement for the U.S Department of Homeland Security, the second largest investigative agency in the federal government, and was also a former prosecutor. As a former insider, she reminds us that the government does not want the company to fail during an investigation. To that end, Ms. Myers Wood also shared the importance of building in compliance as you build your company. CEOs shape the company’s culture of compliance and ethics which serve as the foundation for businesses using technology in a rapidly evolving digital age. CEOs need more tools; they need to be constantly thinking; and they need to invest in great people to continually transform their company.

The message to CEOs is one not to be ignored — take a full and annual assessment of your company on a technological level, and set the bar high in compliance, security and ethics, so you avoid the often maligned cliche “we’re the government and we’re here to help you.”