National Events Bring Professional Development Opportunity

April 1, 2024
Kevin Kurland and Wendy Epley

Kevin Kurland and Wendy Epley

Wendy Epley, Principal Analyst with the Information Security Office-Governance, Risk, and Compliance (ISO-GRC) team attended a social event in Washington, D.C. sponsored by the International Sanctions and Export Control Society (IS&ECS).  The IS&ECS is the only non-profit trade association network in the world.  It is led by a diverse group of global industry leaders, former government regulatory and enforcement officials, attorneys, and experienced compliance professionals, who work in collaboration to provide a holistic approach to compliance with export controls and sanctions.  

On March 26th, 2024, the IS&ECS hosted an in-person gathering at the Washington, DC offices of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, LLP.  It was promoted as “…a fantastic opportunity to connect with fellow professionals and experts in the field of sanctions and export controls.”  This event was held the day before the annual Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) Update conference.   Talk about strategically planned!  Here is an organization of former government regulatory and enforcement officials, and the next day is a U.S. Government agency conference. It was like a class reunion of government representatives!  Then, IS&ECS was able to confirm BIS Deputy Assistant Secretaries Matt Borman and Kevin Kurland as guest speakers.  Who would not want to be at this social event by IS&ECS?

When Wendy was working at the University of Miami as their first Export Compliance Officer, she had the opportunity to meet BIS Under Secretary for Industry and Security, Mr. Eric L. Hirschhorn (2010-2017).  Wendy was able to talk with Mr. Hirschhorn who stated that he was happy to see higher education represented at IS&ECS and continue to have a voice in regulatory trade compliance matters.  Wendy also was able to speak with Deputy Assistant Secretary of Export Enforcement, Kevin Kurland, who appreciated Wendy’s valuable expertise in developing and managing a survey conducted by IS&ECS in January to understand the challenges with export enforcement, as well as identify unique management methods used to address those challenges.  The survey also highlighted ways BIS could help industry and higher education in meeting the demands of regulatory trade compliance.  Wendy also enjoyed talking with IS&ECS Members from around the world.  She had a great conversation with Tuomas Nirvi, Trade Compliance Officer for Bluefors in Finland.  Bluefors develops cooling solutions for quantum computing.  Of course, Wendy thought of UArizona’s Arizona Quantum Initiative to find a common ground in their conversation.  

Wendy and her ISO colleagues have often participated in similar professional development events in the past, but this year Wendy chose to pay for herself, knowing about the university’s the financial crisis. “An opportunity like this does not happen because you are in the right place at the right time.  It takes patience and a positive attitude with those you network with,” Epley stated.  For Wendy, this opportunity started in 2012 when she first met Thomas Andrukonis who was then the Director of the Export Management and Compliance Division with BIS.  She established a rapport with him that has endured over time and developed into a friendship.  Wendy stays active with networking and helping peers and others within academia and industry.  When others reach out to her with regulatory-related questions, she never says “no, you can’t do that” – rather she helps them look for opportunities to understand the challenges so they can make a risk-based decision.  She has a pay-it-forward type of work ethic.  

In September 2023, Tom Andrukonis and Steve Wilcox of IS&ECS called Wendy while she was in Florida presenting at the InfoSec World conference.  It was during that call that Wendy was appointed to be the Deputy Managing Director for the American Chapter of the International Sanctions and Export Control Society (IS&ECS).  In February, she was appointed to also be the Secretary on the Board of Directors.  

Wendy’s advice for others to have their work recognized is to not be passive in your networking skills.  Giving a “like” in social media is nice but it is building relationships that make the difference.  For someone like Wendy who struggles with social anxiety and other disorders, helping others overcome challenges in her fields of expertise provides great comfort especially because she is doing it because she genuinely wants to help.  Being a compliance professional for nearly 20 years requires a lot of compassion to help others understand how to manage their risk.  Compassion is a quality that can be applied to all facets of our lives, and it just may make the difference in how your work, regardless of the discipline, is recognized.


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