How I’ve faced 2020’s opportunities & challenges as a Compliance Officer...
COVID-19 has been an enormous challenge, but…
... Somehow I was able to make a successful career transition!
My year started out strong, as Chief Compliance Officer at a federal financial services regulator, a job I really loved. I was managing two major IT projects in various stages of implementation and rollout to the whole organization, orienting a new data scientist I had recruited, juggling several personnel changes on our team, and working through several other sensitive projects. All deeply challenging and interesting projects, working with an excellent team.
Then boom—Covid-19 hit. My city shut down. Everyone went to 100% mandatory telework overnight.
Our management team pulled together and helped not only the team, but the whole agency pull together to work through the challenges and maintain our team spirit and high productivity level. We had to adjust several major internal programmatic deadlines, implement new flexible personnel policies to help employees with caregiving responsibilities at home, revise our training plans, and all learn how to use technology to meet with our employees. All while dealing with my own sense of uncertainty and, yes, fear.
An unexpected, unsolicited job opportunity had come my way a short time before Covid hit. (The story about how that came about is a good one about the power of networking.) Once the shutdown happened, it definitely changed my approach to considering that opportunity.
First, all my available time and energy was sucked up in responding to the Covid situation. The same went for my potential employer. We agreed to put all job discussions aside for several months.
Second, my thought process about how I would do the job completely changed. The opportunity was in another state three-quarters of the way across the country from my current home. I was not willing to move there for family reasons, so I had been researching and contemplating how one goes about traveling weekly to a work location, and whether that would be doable for me. Covid made both the potential employer and me re-evaluate what would be required to do the job well, and whether doing the job remotely would work.
Third, I had to give some serious thought as to whether this was a good time to make a major career transition, leaving my 33-year federal career for my first private-sector job. I truly enjoyed my SEC work, so I certainly wasn’t seeking to leave. So, I had to think hard what about this new opportunity would bring in terms of my professional satisfaction and growth, the positive changes and contributions I could make to the new employer, and whether all that outweighed the potential risks of a mid-pandemic career change.
After lots of thought, and after many conversations with my loved ones and with trusted colleagues in the compliance community (thank you!), I made the leap. It has been fantastic so far!
Amy Mertz Brown, Chief Compliance Officer