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Book Review: Wildly Successful Career in Compliance

Compliance professionals have another career development resource for the bookshelf: How to Have a Wildly Successful Career in Compliance by Kristy Grant-Hart — a slim, easy-to-read volume stuffed with practical insights and useful tips to get ahead in this field we’ve chosen.

As it says right in the title, this book is about how to have a successful career in compliance. That’s not the same a successful career as a compliance officer, moving from one in-house job to another with progressively more responsibility. Grant-Hart is doling out career advice assuming you might work with corporate compliance in any number of ways: at a law firm, as a consultant, with a compliance tech vendor, and in a corporate job.

That’s sensible. Modern business is full of uncertainty, and that uncertainty spills into your career path, too. So however bright any of us might be on compliance issues, we still need to be nimble and resourceful in our compliance careers. Wildly Successful Career coaches you on how to do that.

careerGrant-Hart knows her stuff in compliance, too. She has done stints as a compliance officer, worked in compliance at a law firm, and now runs her own compliance consulting firm in LondonLike her first two books, this one is readable (in a day) and practical. She interviews working compliance officers and recounts their advice. She cites social science research on how to interact with people in various career situations. She recounts her own personal history, zig-zagging from one type of compliance job to another.

All the chapters are useful. Some are more useful for compliance officers specifically; others are useful no matter what your profession is. For example, one valuable chapter offers suggestions on how a compliance officer can collaborate with other departments (HR, legal, procurement, internal audit) and how to work with outside counsel, consulting firms, and vendors shrewdly.

Then again, another chapter talks about how to negotiate job offers (with a bonus chapter on negotiating specifically for women); and yet another covers how you can deliver a strong presentation to a committee or speaking engagement. Those pointers are useful regardless of your occupation.

One subject that doesn’t get much attention are the actual laws and regulations that constitute corporate compliance. That’s a telling (and I presume intentional) absence, because it underlines the universal importance of career development skills that truly matter: engaging well with others; staying aware of current trends in your field; thinking strategically about jobs and challenges to take.

Practical Career Tips

Grant-Hart also peppers the book with Top 10 lists, short interviews, vignettes, checklists, fill-in-the-blank questions to focus your mind, and so forth. She keeps the material real, and specific.

Grant-Hart

Some of Grant-Hart’s advice is simple and practical. Include the objective “to be a compliance officer” on your resume if you’re newly entering the field, she says, because “many hiring managers rarely read job applicants’ cover letters.” (Totally true. I never read them.) Consider whether a company offering you a job has a corporate travel agent; that person could save immeasurable stress later, given how often compliance officers travel.

Elsewhere in the book, Grant-Hart gives the example of a compliance officer at a financial firm, who was mulling whether to take a more global role at a larger company — in the cosmetics industry. Would that move help or hinder his career, if he someday wanted to return to financial compliance?

That’s a complex question, as Grant-Hart sagely notes. If you want to go full bore into financial regulation, a tour in a cosmetics firm might not help you much. On the other hand, if you’re more determined to run an enterprise-wide compliance function, then the move is fine.

In other words, How does this pending job help you land your next job after that? That’s a piece of wisdom I’ve mentioned myself from time to time, Grant-Hart makes the same point here, framed in a scenario any compliance officer can grasp.

Then she does the same, over and over again, in ways big and small, throughout the rest of the book. So if you love the field of compliance and want to stay in it as long as you can, tear through Wildly Successful Career over a weekend or long-haul flight, and then keep it your shelf. The wisdom you’ll find in there, you’ll use plenty of times in your career.

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