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Learn from a Leader in Corporate Compliance, Meta’s Rashelle Tanner

Seattle University School of Law’s Master of Legal Studies program (MLS) in Compliance and Risk Management teaches you all the skills and knowledge needed to protect businesses from legal risks. You may choose between four relevant concentrations to tailor your degree to your personal career goals – one of which is corporate compliance. 

Students grasp how to perform risk assessments, understand both external regulations and internal policies, and eventually become compliance officers. In a recent webinar, we asked for all the secrets of success from someone who has truly mastered the art: Meta Platform’s Rashelle Tanner. An adjunct faculty member at Seattle U, we’re proud to add that she is an alumna. Kelli Rodriguez Currie, Professor and Program Director at Seattle University, sat down with Rashelle for an in-depth discussion on all things Corporate Compliance. 

Experience Lead To An Appreciation Of Compliance

When Rashelle was enrolled in law school, she naturally gravitated towards employment law. It seemed that she was always working with employees in some capacity. It made sense when, over 12 years, she became Senior Vice President, General Counsel & Chief Compliance Officer at a major international major nonprofit. Rashelle was responsible for all legal and compliance matters; her input and decisions impacted every facet of the organization. 

During those many years, she found that managing risk and letting employees know what’s expected was the underpinning of a solid company. With 2000 employees under her wing, she and her team had no choice but learn the legal language. “I think it’s very important, to all companies, that we have an effective compliance program should something go wrong,” she says. It was through that values-based experience that she discovered how much she enjoyed learning and working in the compliance space. Thus, when she received the call from Microsoft, she was ready to transform the way 180,000+ global employees prioritize trust and integrity in their work.

The Guardians Of A Company

Now, Rashelle is the Director of Culture Programs and Legal Learning & Development for Meta Platforms, which you’ll recognize from Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and more. She is responsible for guiding the overall vision and strategy for Meta’s legal and compliance learning programs, influencing the culture of compliance initiatives, and leading a team of passionate learning professional – always building from the foundation of compliance-centered values. 

As Kelli notes, historically lawyers have been reactive, so it’s fascinating to see professionals like Rashelle now taking proactive approaches to curb these crucial issues. “When I started practicing labor and employment,” Rashelle says, “I don’t think I ever heard the term ‘compliance,’ and certainly not as a discipline or profession. But as the world turns and continues, especially working in the tech space at the cutting edge of everything new, understanding the regulations for a company is critical … I feel like we’re the guardians of the company. We care and we want to get it right.” 

Do The Right Thing

“Getting it right” looks different in different circumstances. Sometimes you’re responding to particular calls. The rest of the time you’re trying to preempt any crises, since compliance interacts with legal, public relations, and business. “Honestly, that’s why I love compliance,” Rashelle admits, “It’s kind of a North Star when you have all these competing decisions to make.” Historically, compliance was often viewed with negativity. Now, by charting the values of this company and what makes it work, leaders see how much freedom is possible when you know and play within the legal boundaries. 

Rashelle considers “the employee, what kind of the place they want to work, and how they want to be communicated to.” Think about it: most employees show up wanting to do the right thing. She’s held both last-call leadership roles as well as more individual employee positions, so she can align multiple perspectives for everyone’s benefit. “All of that experience looking at things from different perspectives has given me a pretty well-rounded voice” in her daily role. “Establishing the culture that you want is pretty fundamental to opening up the space to have an effective compliance and ethics program.” 

Seek Bliss In Your Work

Currently, Rashelle is in a season of deep learning, honed in on strategy and communication writing with no complaints. She remembers reading an article encouraging readers to “seek bliss in your work,” and it completely changed her approach. Now she thinks about what brings her joy – and doing the right thing is one of them. 

As far as the job market for compliance professionals goes, “it’s highly sought. There’s going to be no shortage of new regulations!” She says with a laugh. “Compliance is big, and it’s only going to get bigger.” 

Seattle U excels at challenging students to think through not just the subject matter at hand, but the big picture. Interested in becoming a part of this rapidly expanding industry? Get started today!

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