Compliance and legal? Keep them separate
An interview with Daniel Trujillo, senior vice-president and ethics and compliance officer, Wal-Mart International
Daniel Trujillo is probably one of the best examples of a modern, multilingual, multidisciplinary in-house lawyer. An Argentinean by birth, Trujillo has attended school near home and in the United States, and has worked in Europe, his native Latin America in two countries (his own and Brazil), and the United States. Previously working for Schlumberger, the large global French-based oil services company, Trujillo now lives and works in Bentonville, Arkansas, in the U.S., which many regard as Wal-Mart’s company town. Trujillo was hired by the international subsidiary of the giant U.S.-based retailer after a bribery scandal implicated some of the company’s Mexican executives. Trujillo was brought in, he says, to implement a comprehensive ethics and compliance program. New York-based legalcommunity.it correspondent Anthony Paonita interviewed Trujillo both by phone and in person during one of Trujillo’s visits to New York.
What are your responsibilities?
I’m responsible for the whole ethics and compliance operation of Walmart international. I have a team of approximately 1900 people in the 28 countries where we operate outside the U.S. And we take care of 14 different subject matters. They go from anticorruption and antitrust and money laundering to privacy, trade, responsible sourcing. The whole spectrum of compliance.
You’re a lawyer by training?
Yes. And I have an MBA as well.
At Wal-Mart International, are the legal and compliance departments separate, or does one report to the other?
They are separate.
What do you think of the trend of separating compliance from the legal function?
I think it’s a very healthy separation. It’s good for the company. When I came here they were together. It was part of my role to separate them. The results are really good, because we have a strong focus on compliance. We work closely with legal. To help me do my job, we have attorneys, engineers, people who are experts in safety. It gives the company a different type of focus. So my recommendation is to have them be separate.
Do you work with outside counsel?
What did you do before you came to Wal-Mart?
I started working in civil courts in Argentina when I was studying law and then went to a small law firm. After that, I moved to Impregilo S.p.A, one of the largest construction companies in the world. I worked in the legal department there, then moved to Cargill, in Argentina for two and a half years. In 1987, I joined Schlumberger, and I worked there for 15 years. I had completely different roles. I lived in Milan, I was in charge of north and West Africa for a time, I was in charge of Latin America in Brazil, and then I moved to Houston. Finally I was assistant general counsel and director of compliance for the whole company.
Why did Wal-Mart hire you?
They wanted to be sure they had a international ethics and compliance department that was comprehensive. They wanted someone who had international experience dealing with compliance and large groups. I never discovered who provided my name to them. But they assured me that they were committed to doing the right thing.
This was after the Mexico bribery scandal?
I went in with a forward-looking perspective. The company asked me not to take care of the bribery matter; they had outside firms for that. It was the idea of looking at what was already there and to expand it and make it strong for the whole brand.
You’ve lived and worked in Latin America, Europe, and the United States. Do you see a difference in cultures on the job? Did you have to make a big adjustment when you moved to Wal-Mart?
Every single company that I worked for required an adjustment because the culture is different, and so is the place where they are on that journey. I spend a lot of time understanding the culture before I act, because you need to know how they operate before you implement a compliance program.
Most companies go at a certain point through the same process from being a domestic company to being global. Some of them are more deliberate than others. Schlumberger is one of the most international companies that I know of. I worked with people from more than 100 different nationalities, basically five or six different languages. That is a truly global organization.
Is there much of a difference in how established legal departments are in the U.S., versus European companies?
I think the experiences are different—it’s not a matter of development.
If I were the one building a department for a global company from scratch, I’d make sure it isn’t too American or too European. It would have to have the right mix. Basically, I did that with Wal-Mart with the compliance group. I have 15 different nationalities, and that’s by design. You want to make sure that you have the right people to help take the company to the next step.
Can you walk me through exactly how your compliance program works on an everyday level?
We started looking at the processes. We started to look at all the controls that the company has. Then we moved to technology. Let’s see what kind of solutions the company has in terms of software. We went from 35 separate software solutions for compliance to now seven.
When you say software to be compliant, what does this software do?
We send a group of people to a store unannounced. We’ll tell the manager that we’re here from compliance and we’re going to walk with you through the store. We are going to check what is working and what is not working. And will try to determine how to help you.
We have a list of things to check and will supply the store manager with the list of things that he may have to fix. The information from the visit is uploaded into a data fabric. We create a risk map risk map where you can drill down to the store level to see who visited that store, what was the name of the store manager, what was wrong with that store, and how many visits that store has been failing. Managers can see the map on their iPads.
You’ve lived in so many places. Which was your favorite?
Milano by far. I love Italy. I have an Italian grandmother. It was a place where I connected immediately. We have a house in Italy [in Toscana] and my wife goes there with our whole family. If I could do it over again, it would be in Italy.