Author Archives: Walter Palmer

Get insight from a CFO who has “been there and done it”

On Wednesday, April 13th, attendees at the Retail Industry Leaders Association’s Loss Prevention, Auditing, and Safety Conference will hear from a CFO who has first-hand experience in dealing with retail loss prevention both as an executive and “on the floor.”  Neil Watanabe, CFO and Executive Vice-President for Anna’s Linens actually started his career as a “floater” at a department store chain.  For those who may not know what a “floater” is, it is an employee who goes around and relieves other employees so they can go on their break.  As a result, a floater is working in the shoe department one minute, the housewares department a few minutes later, and then might finish up in the jewelry department.  According to Watanabe, this was the starting point for him to learn about the various departments in the store and learn to become a well-rounded employee.

Since that humble beginning, Watanabe has moved on to be a senior executive with several leading retailers and has a reputation for being a strong supporter of Loss Prevention.  “I’ve always had a special place in my heart for Loss Prevention and believe they can contribute greatly to any retailer’s success,” Watanabe told me when I had a chance to speak with him last week about this session.  In this session, he will share his insights about what being a well-rounded business executive means to him and how Loss Prevention executives can improve their influence with their own organization.  He will also share some case studies where he will give some real-life examples of how he has approached Loss Prevention challenges in his career.

Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from an executive who understands our business and wants us to be successful!  This general session starts at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday.

IBM Pays $10 Million to Settle FCPA Case

IBM has agreed to pay a settlement of $10 million to settle civil charges that it bribed Chinese and South Korean government officials to obtain computer equipment contracts.  The The Wall Street Journal that the SEC is suing the company over cash bribes that violate provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).  IBM did not admit to wrongdoing, but did say it has higher ethical standards for its employees and had taken “appropriate remedial action,” according to the WSJ report.

The SEC’s suit accuses employees in the South Korea offices of the tech giant of paying government officials $207,000 and providing travel, entertainment, and gifts of cameras and laptops in exchange for a contract to supply PCs and mainframes to the government.  The SEC complaint also alleges that more than 100 employees and two top officials of IBM in China paid for the vacations of Chinese government representatives, through slush funds established at travel agencies.

This case raises the issue of how difficult it is to make your corporate ethics statement a reality around the world.  It is almost certain that IBM maintained a code of ethics that would prevent this type of behavior but this did not prevent “widespread” bribery involving over 100 employees.  PCG Global now offers FCPA/Ethics training targeted directly to front-line employees who have to make decisions about bribes, ethics, and corruption in their normal course of work without direct supervision.  Contact us to find out how we can customize and deliver this training to your organization in your most critical areas of operation.

How Leaders Create and Use Networks

“Networking” is a term that gets abused, misused, and is often misunderstood.  But, networking, when done right and with purpose, can be a key business skill.  “How Leaders Create and Use Networks” is a good piece on this from Harvard Business Review.  In this article, three types of networking are identified – Operational, Personal, and Strategic.  There were a couple of lines in there that I really liked…first, in regards to personal networking:

“We observed that once aspring leaders..awaken to the dangers of of an excessively internal focus, they begin to seek kindred spirits outside their organizations.  Simultaneously, they become aware of the limitations of their social skills, such as a lack of knowledge about professional domains beyond their own, which makes it difficult for them to find common ground with people outside their usual circles.”

“Many of the managers we study question why they should spend precious time on an activity so indirectly related to the work at hand.  Why widen one’s circle of casual acquantances when there isn’t time even for urgent tasks?  The answer is that these contacts provide important referrals, information, and, often, development support such as coaching and mentoring.”

Second, in regards to the mindset of many managers:

“..we often hear, ‘That’s all well and good, but I already have a day job.’  Others..consider working through networks a way to rely on ‘whom you know’ rather than ‘what you know’ – a hypocritical, even unethical way to get things done.  Whatever the reason, when aspiring leaders do not believe that networking is one of the most important requirements of their new jobs, they will not allocate enough time and effort to see it pay off.”

How do you view networking?  Is it a “dirty word” or an essential business skill?

LSI SCAN Workshop at RILA Conference – Complimentary Registration

At the upcoming Retail Industry Leaders Association’s Loss Prevention, Auditing, and Safety Conference, attendees will have the opportunity to attend a free four-hour workshop on the SCAN (Scientific Content Analysis) technique for detection of deception.  I had a chance to talk with this session’s instructor, Tim Bos, who is with the Laboratory for Scientific Interrogation (LSI).  Mr. Bos first learned the SCAN technique while a police officer with the Clovis, CA Police Department.  When SCAN was introduced in their department in 1994, confession rates increased by over 20% and Bos was hooked.  Since retiring as a Captain with the force, Bos has become an instructor with LSI and traveled the world teaching this program.

“One of the things that many investigators misunderstand is how to get useful information.  Their first instinct is to ask lots of questions.  But, questions produce responses, not necessarily information.”  The SCAN technique emphasizes the importance of getting an open statement from the subject, in their own words, before you ask any questions.  This written statement can then be analyzed from beginning to end.  Every word in a subject’s or witness statement – the pronouns and connections, the subjective time, the changes in language – will “talk” to you and provide you with answers.  This session will introduce you to the concepts and give you some new tools to take back to your job.

Not only can these techniques be applied to the analysis of written statements, the same principles apply to interviews and interrogations.  Once you go through this session, you will pay more attention to the semantics and structure of oral narratives and statements.  In fact, Mr. Avinoam Sapir, the developer of the SCAN, has used these techniques to analyze the verbal statements and interviews of individuals in many high profile cases to identify what they are really saying and what they are leaving out.  A successful investigator has multiple tools in their tool kit.  Thanks to RILA for providing the opportunity to be exposed to this new tool!

If all of this wasn’t enough reason to attend the conference, all attendees to the RILA conference are eligible for continuing education credits (CEU/CPE).  In addition, attendees of this SCAN workshop will earn an additional four credits towards CFI (Certified Forensic Interviewer) recertification!

This session will be held on Thursday, April 14th, from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.  To guarantee your place in the workshop, RSVP today to Liz Benson at liz.benson@rila.org.

Brazil’s Labor Laws

There is a good article over on The Economist, “Employer, beware,” about labor laws in Brazil and how onerous they can be to employers.  According to the article “They are costly: redundancies “without just cause” attract a fine of 4% for the total amount the worker has ever earned, for example.  (Neither a lazy employee nor a bankrupt employer constitutes just cause.)..In 2009, 2.1m Brazilians opened cases against their employers in the labour courts.  These courts rarely side with employers.”