is a conscious effort on our side to make sure
that we are the “yes” team, hence the term
“enablement” in our title.
We work closely with all other business
functions as we try to instill the mentality
that everyone at Cisco owns compliance; and
when you’re such a large company, it’s hard to
be everywhere at once without fostering great
GZ: You have a fascinating background.
You’ve gone from a degree in philosophy to a
position in ethics and compliance in just a few
short years, with a few stops along the way. At
what point did ethics and compliance become
interesting to you, and were there any specific
events that led to this?
LE: I feel so fortunate to have gotten to
where I am in such a short space of time.
The last five years have been a complete
whirlwind. My interest in ethics started when
I was studying philosophy at university. I’ll be
honest, I never in a million years thought that
I could get a job related to the general term
“ethics,” but I was fortunate enough to have
a degree that allowed me to take additional
classes in different departments, and I found
that the business school was doing a class
entitled Business Ethics. It was an incredibly interesting class, where we learned a
lot about corruption and business scandals
such as Enron. However, the moment I knew
that this job was for me was when we were
asked a series of problem questions relating
to business ethics. We were asked to stand at
either side of the room depending on what you
thought the outcome should be. Essentially the
lecturer was trying to show that if you stood
on one end of the room, you were putting
profits over ethical behavior. Out of the series
of questions, 90% of the time I was the only
one standing on the “ethical” side of the room.
I was completely shocked that these highly
educated business students were willing to,
wellbeing of their employees or even the law.
I knew that it wasn’t malicious or with any
specific intentions; however, it highlighted to
me how, in many cases, there is a lack of focus
on protecting the integrity of your company or
the people who work for you. It was then that I
knew that I had to find out how to, metaphorically, stand on the other side of the room as a
GZ: What has surprised you the most about
the field of ethics so far?
LE: The biggest surprise for me was that
this field, in many companies, derived from
Legal. It seems foolish now, as I can completely
understand the transition in a business to
look from legal regulations to a focus on
compliance overall and ethics. However when
I joined this profession, it was a time when
there was a great shift away from compliance
as a regulatory field and more toward ethics,
with emphasis on company culture. Now that
I am one year into my part-time law degree, it
is even clearer to me where this industry came
from and how important it is to have both.
When I started this job, as a recent
graduate, I had wide-eyed hopes to save
everyone and teach the whole world how to
be good. It took me a long time to step more
into the middle of this balancing act and look
toward the legal requirements and the risk
tolerance in business decisions.
GZ: You co-presented a very well-received
session on millennials in Frankfurt at the
European Compliance & Ethics Institute.
Every generation has its stereotypes, some
deserved and some not. What generalizations
about millennials in the workplace do you
think are reasonably accurate and which are
LE: A key part of the research I conducted
in preparation for our presentation showed