Enhancing internal investigations

When Jeff Kemp joined the legal team at Molex, he was tasked with renovating the company’s internal investigation processes

The Impetus

It’s rare for anyone to be more than fifty feet from a Molex product at any given time, says Jeff Kemp, the company’s associate general counsel. Molex is a leading provider in electronic components and solutions.

Molex creates vital client-facing products, which make the company’s business future a bright one. Internally, though, the legal team had room for improvement when Kemp joined the department in 2013. Koch Industries acquired Molex that year and brought Kemp in to tackle internal issues. One of Kemp’s tasks was to upgrade the internal investigations process to ensure alignment with the principles of the parent company.

Kemp had years of experience as an assistant district and litigation attorney. After joining Molex, he went to work collaborating with the compliance department to identify areas for improvement. “There was an inconsistency across investigators in their approach and the written work product at an investigation’s conclusion,” he explains.

Kemp and his team said the investigations process took longer than it needed to. “We always have and always will take the approach that quality trumps speed,” he says. “It’s all about finding the right balance in being efficient and taking the time that is needed to conduct an investigation in a fair and defensible way.”

The Plan

The legal team immediately got to work improving Molex’s system. The first step was to develop a bench of global employees for completing internal investigations.

“Given the broad universe of types of potential compliance allegations or incidents, we determined that a best-in-class internal investigations capability required a bench of trained investigators from several relevant disciplines within the company,” Kemp explains.

Today, the company is able to handle many internal investigations via in-house investigators, saving money and increasing the speed at which investigations are completed—a factor that goes far in building trust among employees.

The Molex team developed investigator training sessions to ensure that the entire investigative team produces similarly structured reports.

Other ways of streamlining the investigation and report aspects included implementing a compliance investigation process map, a compliance notification guide, and investigation plan and report templates. All are meant to make investigations clearer and more focused overall, giving investigators a jumping-off point for each part of the process.

One of the most important pieces of Molex’s restructured approach is the Allegations Oversight Committee (AOC). The AOC charges employees with senior roles in the company with the supervision of internal investigations to ensure everything is in compliance with its strategies.

“Having an active and engaged AOC, which receives tremendous support from our top executives, helps cascade the message of the importance of internal investigations throughout the company,” Kemp says.

“It’s all about finding the right balance in being efficient and taking the time that is needed to conduct an investigation in a fair and defensible way.”

The Results

Kemp says he’s seen nothing but good results from this cross-functional and cross-departmental approach. “I don’t see challenges, but rather rewards in the form of better knowledge sharing and coordination toward accomplishing our mutual goal,” Kemp says.

Since Koch acquired Molex and implemented the investigations improvement plan, the company has seen great returns. Kemp is quick to credit a team effort between legal, compliance, and the AOC.

While Molex still hires outside counsel when appropriate, Kemp says that is the exception, not the rule. In just under two years, the company is up and running with a global team of in-house investigators to handle internal investigations.

As for time spent on individual cases, Molex has cut that number drastically, seemingly without sacrificing quality. “Although the quality of our investigations will always be more important than time to resolution, the process we have put in place appears to have resulted in a 45 percent or so reduction in the average time to resolution for our investigations, comparing 2015 to 2014,” Kemp says.

Saving time means only good things for Molex. It means increased confidence from the employees, especially those reporting allegations. Additionally, saving time means saving money.

“Since the implementation of the various improvements, we’re seeing a greater level of confidence in the internal investigation process from all the various stakeholders,” Kemp says.

Under the parentage of Koch Industries, Molex’s litigation and compliance team appears to be improving on several fronts.

Kemp’s success may be due to the fact that he closely follows Koch’s core beliefs, also known as market-based management (MBM).

“At Koch Industries, CEO Charles Koch has stated that MBM emphasizes principled entrepreneurship over corporate welfare, virtue over talent, challenge over hierarchy, comparative advantage over job title, and rewards for long-term value creation over managing to budgets,” Kemp says. “Fortunately, those principles are consistent with the way I have tried to approach my career.”