After working at Harter, Secrest & Emery in Rochester, N.Y., for seven years, Susan Roberts '88 learned of an open position across the street, managing litigation at Bausch & Lomb. Happy with her busy litigation practice at Harter, Secrest, the open position didn't interest her much at first, until a law firm colleague dared her to apply.
"You don't dare someone who is the youngest of five children," Roberts joked, adding that dares and challenges still hold value for her.
That was in 1995. Today she is the chief compliance officer for Bausch & Lomb, a company with 13,000 employees worldwide and products available in over 100 countries. Compliance issues can include conflicts of interest, harassment, environmental safety, bribery, theft, fraud—any type of legal violation or workplace misconduct.
"In compliance, we work to protect and enhance the value of the company," explained Roberts. "We focus on preventing compliance issues by continuously assessing risks, putting the necessary systems and processes in place to manage the risks, then auditing and monitoring to ensure the systems in place are effective. We also evaluate our culture—do our employees know what's expected of them and are they doing the right thing?"
Roberts started with Bausch & Lomb managing its litigation 14 years ago. Three years ago the company asked Roberts to start a compliance department. Shortly thereafter, the public company became privately held by Warburg Pincus, a private equity firm.
Even before the Compliance Department, Roberts said the work was challenging due to the company's global presence and its range of products, which include contact lenses, ophthalmic pharmaceuticals, intraocular lenses and ophthalmic surgical equipment.
Roberts reports directly to the CEO. In December 2008 the Board of Directors elected Roberts to corporate vice president.
"I believe in Bausch & Lomb," said Roberts, who is married with a 9-year-old and and a 7-year-old. "Our mission hasn't changed since our founders started the company 156 years ago: we help people see. A century and a half later, we're still doing that. I have seen our products change peoples' lives for the better and I'm very proud to be a part of that." — DS