| by Caitlin Fillmore


Hecht, Kristin
Kristen Hecht, MA International Policy Studies ‘05.

In a wide-ranging conversation, alum Kristen Hecht chatted with students about how she has leveraged her degree from the Institute in her career, touching on the realities of work-life balance and sharing engaging stories of her work for leading financial institutions and tech companies around the world. 

“I loved the international exposure and experience at Middlebury,” said Kristen Hecht, whose most recent role was as deputy chief compliance and global money laundering reporting officer at Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange. 

“I sought out those careers and that’s something that I’ve kept up throughout the years,” Hecht said. “It’s been a really huge priority for me. So you can make it happen. It’s possible.”

Hecht recently visited Middlebury to share experiences and advice with students in Professor Moyara Ruehsen’s financial crime management program. 

While completing her degree at the Institute, Hecht focused on counterterrorism, earning United Nations internships in Vienna and Cairo with the Office on Drugs and Crime. 

“It was really exciting to start exploring the UN’s work there and some of the illicit financial activities and terrorism concerns,” Hecht said.

Hecht was selected for the Presidential Management Fellowship (PMF), blazing a trail to fit her specific career goals. 

“I noticed the Treasury and State Department had zero PMF presence. And I wanted to go to those agencies,” she said.

Hecht remembered the anxiety of asking a colleague to be her mentor as a young professional. 

“I tapped into my network, which was very small at the time. I had to muster up a lot of courage to approach her, and ask, ‘Hi, would you like to be my mentor?’ or something ridiculous like that,” Hecht said. “I told her my ambitions and she ended up putting me in touch with someone at the State Department.”

Hecht became the agency’s first PMF, teaching her a valuable lesson. 

“Maybe it’s not in front of you, but you can seek out these opportunities.”

Hecht worked as a senior policy advisor in the Treasury Department for 10 years before transitioning to the private sector to become the head of financial crime compliance for HSBC China in Shanghai and chief compliance officer at Meta before landing at Binance.

“There really is this prestige with having a government background and network,” Hecht said. “Being able to tap into people at these agencies and understanding how things work is just such valuable knowledge for the private sector.”

Hecht offered students a unique perspective on the future of the compliance industry.

“Within the entire industry, a lot of companies are seeing there are huge consequences of not bringing in compliance at the beginning of business discussions or relationships,” Hecht said. “Compliance culture change can take time, but it is crucial to navigating complex regulatory expectations and the dynamic legal and regulatory environment.”

For More Information

Financial Crime Management