Emmanuel Tchividjian serves as the Executive Director, Ethics Consulting Practice for Ruder-Finn, the only PR agency with an ethics officer, ethics committee and regular ethics meetings to which all staff are invited. Tchividjian has been with the company since 1997. Prior to joining Ruder-Finn, he worked for the Government of Switzerland and in particular, was tasked with researching and telling that country's account on issues relating to WWII and the Holocaust.
Mr. Tchividjian is a Certified Compliance & Ethics Professional from the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics (SCCE) and a member of the Ethics & Compliance Officers Association, (ECOA) the national professional association for managers of ethics and compliance programs. He is the Ethics Officer of the New York Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America as well as a member (ex-officio) of the National Board of Ethics and Professional Standards. He is also a member of the Swiss-American and French-American Chambers of Commerce.
Interviewer: We’re sitting with Emmanuel Tchividjian, Senior Vice-President and Chief Ethics Officer at Ruder Finn. He’s held positions with the government of Switzerland and with New England Israel Chamber of Commerce. He’s past president and current Ethics Officer for the New York Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, as well as a member of the National Board of Ethics in Professional Standards. We are pleased to have you share some of your experiences and thoughts with us today. Welcome and thank you.
Tchividjian: I’m happy to be here.
Interviewer: Let’s start by talking about how you got started in public relations.
Tchividjian: I think my history in public relations is unusual, so it can’t really be a model for students. There may be some values in maybe being open to something unexpected. I came to PR by accident. I’ve been involved in communication and did give interviews in the past, to media, I wrote a press release once, but that was about it. I came to PR because of a crisis that I was involved in, not personally; I was personally involved, but it was not my crisis. It was an issue of a Swiss government, Swiss banks, and the Holocaust. That was back in 1997. Because I was involved and I cared about the issue, I had to attend an event or a hearing in Congress in 1997, which was about the Swiss bank and the Holocaust. I met there, Mr. David Finn, who was the co-founder and chairman of the firm, and Ruder-Finn at the time was representing the Swiss Government.
I had grown up in Switzerland, had many contacts there, and I was involved. So he gave me his card and said come and see me; and I did. We sat, and he asked me why I was there. I said I didn’t know. He asked me what we would be talking about; I said I didn’t have a clue, and then we talked. At one point he asked me if the Swiss Government had paid me for what I had done; I said no. He looked at me a little strange, like why would this guy do this for no pay. Then he realized that this was a matter that I really cared about. So we talked and one thing lead to another and I joined the firm and that was almost thirty years ago. So the process of once I joined was quite intense because I had the general concept, but no experience. So it was a steep learning curve, but one I would recommend.