The Questioner: Undergraduate Alumnus Gets to the Bottom of Corporate Wrongdoing at EY
“I’m a big question asker,” says Andrew Clark (B’98), a trait he recalls was instilled in him by the Jesuits at Georgetown and then nurtured over 18 years as an overseer of corporate behavior, good and bad.
Clark is a principal at Ernst & Young (EY) in its Forensic and Integrity Services practice in Washington, D.C. When a company does something wrong, legally or ethically, his group is hired to investigate exactly what happened.
Clark majored in accounting at the McDonough School of Business and after graduation was recruited by another Big Four firm’s audit service. “After a year, though, I decided I did not enjoy financial auditing,” he admits. So he was not exactly thrilled when EY reached out to him, until it was explained they wanted him to join a new unit that would tap into what Clark had learned from science courses and work as an emergency medical technician in college, as well as his financial knowledge.
“Our group specializes in the life sciences industry,” Clark explains, which includes hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers, biotechnology firms, and other health-related organizations. “They are all heavily regulated and require specific knowledge of ethics and integrity issues,” he says.
Investigations of wrongdoing are the bread and butter of the practice, according to Clark, offering a couple of examples: “Somebody stole a lot of money, and we have to figure out how. Or there was fraudulent activity, and we determine what happened.” His group is generally hired by a client’s board of directors or counsel and works closely with its legal and compliance departments.
“Providing service to others and having a solid ethical base are absolutely paramount in what I do.”Andrew Clark (B’98)
Other clients are proactive, employing Clark’s group to help manage compliance functions, whether established internally or mandated by laws, regulations, and industry standards. The third duty of the practice is oversight. “A company may get in trouble with the government and enter into what’s called a corporate integrity agreement,” Clark says. “We oversee the procedures in the agreement and report back to the government.”
Following the rules is a tricky business in today’s global economy, Clark acknowledges, particularly for multinational companies that rely on far-flung supply chains. “You have many cultures, with different standards of right and wrong, interacting with each other,” he says, “so companies have to consider how to operate in various markets while abiding by local laws and guidelines.” Fortunately, EY is a global entity with offices around the world employing locals who assist his group in navigating the ins and outs.
Clark values his years at Georgetown, including the well-rounded curriculum at McDonough, when it comes to the practical skills and personal guidance the job requires. “Providing service to others and having a solid ethical base are absolutely paramount in what I do,” he says.
Clark adds that his Washington, D.C., office is just a few miles from Georgetown. “If I’ve had a rough day and need to clear my head, I’ll walk around campus and reflect on the beautiful surroundings,” he says.
— Bob Woods
Photograph by Jimell Greene
Published in Georgetown Business magazine, Fall 2019