Using Training to Bring Compliance to Boardrooms

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wsjAngela Bazigos, chief compliance officer at Morf Media Inc., which offers mobile  compliance training to companies, talks about the importance of having board members  trained about compliance, and the necessity of linking executive compensation with a  company’s compliance goals.

What are your duties as chief compliance officer?

Ms. Bazigos: I joined Morf Media as the chief compliance officer and I am being ratified  as a board member. I have several duties. The first is to create a compliance culture  within Morf Media, the second is to create compliance training for the life sciences  industry. I am working with the executive staff to strategically implement compliance  across the corporation.

How have you gone about creating that culture?

Ms. Bazigos: We want to avoid silos. Compliance is very fragmented. Usually you see  many companies for each compliance effort have a silo—a pharma company needs  pharma compliance, it needs safety compliance, financial compliance–but they are  different groups and all operate independently. Companies should create a C-suite-level  position to lead compliance, then create a committee that will run compliance across the  organization.

We also model the methodology of compliance as a strategic advantage. We are  implementing our methodology as an executive training program with technology and  courseware that can help our clients implement this at their sites. We are partnering with  software vendors that can implement company-wide risk management and compliance  software that can produce executive- and board-level reports.

What are common compliance challenges you encounter in your role at Morf?

Ms. Bazigos: As in any small company, the demand for our products outpaces the  availability of our resources. Consequently, we have implemented a partnering program,  where our carefully and rigorously vetted partners can provide the expertise and  resources…for our clients.

How does training aid in spreading compliance?

Ms. Bazigos: What we want to do is create training as a leading indicator of a company’s  compliance. We want to create training to take with you on your phone or tablet so you  can do training away from the office. Training is delivered in three-minute chunks, and  after every three minutes the user gets a set of questions to test how well they  understood. If they are not doing well, Morf works with the user to figure out other ways to  deliver that message until the user is able to pass the test and move on. We hear from  companies that say they don’t have money to do training but then they spend 10 times  what they would have spent on training on correcting the mistakes that occurred because  people were not trained.

How is technology and social media changing the way you conduct training?

Ms. Bazigos: People’s way of learning has stopped being one where you give them  something for an hour or an hour and a half and expect them to pay attention. Attention  spans have shrunk to three minutes, so if you deliver training in three-minute chunks it  goes in at a time when the attention span is active.

Are boards and senior executives more interested now in compliance training?

Ms. Bazigos: At the beginning there was no awareness from the board, the penalties  weren’t particularly severe. Now the needle has almost swung to other side; compliance  and things like audits and inspections are not more frequent but the penalties are a lot  more onerous. Also, it used to be serious compliance violations would take three, four  years to resolve. Now they take seven years to resolve and part of that is because of a  lack of understanding of compliance by the company and by the board.

Why is it important to tie compliance to executive compensation?

Ms. Bazigos: The CEO has to keep the board happy or else. Because compliance is not  part of the goals and objectives, all these things happen in the background, they are  hidden. In my mind every executive and manager, right down to the director level, should  have compliance goals that come down from the board and those goals need to be tied to  the business goals. What we are bringing together is additional training and saying, OK,  let’s find a way to put compliance into the CEO’s goals and objectives. It’s very rare to  see a 10-K filing with CEO goals. I would love to see a way to rate compliance readiness.

What do you see as some of the major compliance challenges in the life sciences  currently?

Ms. Bazigos: Morf Media recently conducted a survey to determine the latest challenges  and we discovered they cover three major themes. First, compliance is publicized by  management but not necessarily modeled or supported. Executive management and the  board have no knowledge of either the value or the issues of compliance, other than ‘it’s  needed for an inspection.’ This results in an inconsistent message to the employees.

Second, today’s training methods are often described as ‘a lot of PowerPoint and not enough getting to the point.’ Compliance training can now become a compelling  interactive experience that can be played as a social activity, while offering individualized  virtual coaching for remediation. Individual rote learning simply does not work.

Third, the  cost of training is high–whether it’s the cost of the training itself or pulling people out of  their productive job to attend training. [By offering] training on the go, finally we can  remove the barrier caused by the competition between training and people’s time and  budget.

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