Doing Public Good

November 3, 2015 //
Robert Roach
Robert Roach

Robert Roach’s time at Temple laid the foundation on which he built his career in ethics and compliance

Robert Roach

BBA ’74 | Vice President and Chief Compliance Officer, New York University

Hometown: Philadelphia

Major Growth: “Temple was an incubator for my personal and professional growth. I met people of all walks of life, received a foundation for my career, and I left prepared me for the real world.”

In discussing his professional journey, Robert Roach, BBA ’74, quoted the famous line from the Grateful Dead’s song “Truckin’.” He said, “Lately it occurs to me, what a long, strange trip it’s been.”

Roach felt those lyrics described how serendipity gets in the way of major life planning, especially in relation to one’s career.

“You work hard and plan in advance, but something happens that puts you on a much different path,” Roach said. “I didn’t expect to be on the path I’m on, but I’ve been happy nonetheless.”

The Vice President and Chief Compliance Officer of New York University originally saw himself in business administration.

After four years of working 25 hours per week at a gas station in Northeast Philadelphia, balanced with a full course load and an active campus life – he was the president of the Fox School of Business’ student government – Roach started working at Air Products & Chemicals, Inc., in Quakertown, Pa. While working at Air Products & Chemicals, Roach realized he wanted to further his education. In doing research, he chose to pursue law school instead of a master’s in business administration. He earned his law degree from Georgetown University in 1978.

Roach worked briefly in corporate law in Philadelphia before moving south to work for the American Civil Liberties Union. He later worked within the New York Attorney General’s office and the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, further building his career in compliance and ethics. His undergraduate coursework at the Fox School came in handy when, for example, he executed his own forensic accounting while prosecuting white-collar defendants.

“The biggest challenge in my career was finding one that suited my personality,” he said.

Roach joined NYU in 2006, after serving as chief of staff at the New York City Department of Investigation.

Roach recommends that recent and soon-to-be graduates embrace curveballs life throws their way.

“When you take advantage of serendipity and try something new, you may find it to be personally and professionally rewarding,” Roach said.