What is your occupation and how did you come to work in this field?
I am General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer of Palladium Equity Partners, LLC. We are a private equity firm with over $1.5 billion of assets under management focused on making investments in lower-middle market companies, investing primarily in founder-owned businesses in the U.S. Hispanic market. I joined Palladium in June 2011. Prior to working in-house, I was in private practice, beginning as a litigator in the Securities and Professional Liability practice at Hughes, Hubbard & Reed LLP. After transitioning to Bingham McCutchen LLP as a midlevel associate, I began to focus on regulatory defense, and rose to counsel in Bingham’s Securities Litigation and Broker-Dealer defense group. I was seconded to Morgan Stanley during the financial crisis, to assist their Regulatory Inquiries team in training team members and fielding inquiries from the SEC, FINRA, Chicago Board Options Exchange, and various other state/federal regulators seeking information from the retail, fixed income, wealth management, and other areas of Morgan Stanley’s business. After the Dodd-Frank Act took effect, which required the private equity industry to register with the SEC, I transitioned from private practice to in-house counsel. I have been with Palladium since then.
What is the biggest challenge of your work?
Helping my firm navigate the ever-changing regulatory environment without compromising our ability to efficiently deliver the highest caliber of services possible to our investors. In light of how quickly financial services regulations have been changing, it gets very difficult at times to stay abreast of what’s required, while ensuring that our policies accurately reflect our commitment to regulatory compliance, and also ensuring that our team of professionals is up to speed on all changes in something close to real-time. There is a lot going on in the industry, and at times it feels as though we in the legal/compliance arena are drinking from a fire hose when working to digest and implement all relevant regulatory changes.
What is your proudest achievement?
My proudest achievement is the strength of my family’s bond. My wife and I have two young children; our daughter is 9 and our son is 5. Respecting my own commitment to prioritize my family’s needs has been very difficult at times in my career, particularly in my earliest days as a junior associate. In my experience, balance has been near impossible; integration was the more basic goal. I am definitely most proud of having reached this point in my career without having sacrificed too much on the personal side, and without having compromised (too much) in building and maintaining a strong bond with my kids. Aside from that, my proudest achievement is having built a strong regulatory compliance program from the ground up at a successful firm that had never been subject to the SEC’s jurisdiction prior to my arrival, without having unduly obstructed my firm’s ability to continue its business as successfully as it had been prior to the Dodd-Frank registration requirement.
What leaders, thinkers or doers do you admire most?
In no particular order, I have been most inspired by the words and work of Eleanor Roosevelt, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Abraham Lincoln. I also greatly admire Hillary Clinton, Sheryl Sandberg, Tina Fey and Michelle Obama for reaching incredible levels of success without succumbing to the noise and fury of those who take offense at, or would prefer not to see, women like them succeed so spectacularly.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Helping to continue Palladium’s successful navigation through tumultuous regulatory waters. Preparing to send my kids off to college. Sharing my experiences with young attorneys and compliance professionals in an effort to help de-mystify the process of building and maintaining a strong, effective compliance program without sacrificing success in the financial services area.
What would be your advice to young people who want their careers and lives to have an impact?
You can impact the world in many ways – keep your eyes and mind open about how you can make a difference. Your skills, talent and passion can make a difference in ways that might not be obvious, but you can add significant value to lives of others in many, many different ways. If you admire someone, let them know. Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to start the conversation – your career will be much longer, and will build much more quickly, than you imagine. The connections you make now can yield surprising results months and years from now. Even if the impact is not as immediate as you’d like or expect it to be, you really can make a significant impact on what matters most to you through one conversation and one relationship at a time. Momentum builds - if you have a goal or idea for what you’d like to change/affect, you can start the ball rolling at any time.