Training and Coaching

Jeff Thinnes has trained or coached thousands of executives on topics related to ethics, compliance and values-based leadership. Jeff draws on his career experiences as an international commercial lawyer, senior executive of a leadership and policy institute, business leader, ethics & compliance consultant, and adjunct professor at three universities.


Jeff's coaching blends thought leadership with a rich variety of real world experiences that enable him to relate to his clients’ challenges and connect with them on a deeper level. 

Trusted Legal Advisor

1984-89: Commercial/Transactional lawyer, Story & Ross

 Jeff began his career representing mostly foreign family offices investing in the US. These clients wanted more than an attorney;  they wanted someone they could trust to keep an eye on their US business interests. In one case, Jeff represented a Germany-based limited partnership launching a major food services business in the United States. The representative sent by the limited partnership to run the operations began wining and dining Jeff and his wife in an effort to build a deeper personal relationship. Over time, however, Jeff noticed excessive personal expenditures by this rep and suspected other indiscretions in the business. After he shared his concern with his client in Germany, evidence of fraudulent activities was found that lead to the dismissal of the representative in the US.


In another matter, Jeff represented a foreign businessman who, based on misrepresentations in an investment document,  acquired the largest citrus farm in southwestern United States. The trust between Jeff and his client lead the client to insist that Jeff continue managing the case through to a resolution even though Jeff went on leave of absence to obtain a Master's degree at Harvard.


Values-Based Leadership

1990–95: Deputy Director and VP, The Aspen Institute    


Jeff held executive positions at The Aspen Institute Germany in Berlin and at The Aspen Institute in Colorado. The Aspen Institute draws upon principles espoused by philosophers, economists, legal scholars, business leaders and others that have, for centuries, shaped the concept of leadership. Jeff designed and moderated numerous policy and executive leadership programs with these enduring principles of leadership at their core for executives from leading global companies.

Doing What's Right, Building Bridges

1996-99: VP, Trade and Investment, Daimler-Benz


From their DC headquarters, Jeff supported the worldwide strategy and business development activities of Daimler-Benz, while also navigating the resolution of delicate issues in the US. For example, when US subsidiaries of foreign companies came under scrutiny for their business activities with minority groups in the US, Jeff identified opportunities to build bridges and improve the company’s standing with them. 

Business Expansion and Reorganization; Ethics & Compliance

1999 – Present: Founder and CEO, JTI, Inc.


In the early years of JTI, Jeff focused primarily on helping foreign companies enter and grow their businesses in the US market.  This required significant trust as companies faced a myriad of risks expanding their businesses into the highly competitive US market.  Jeff also was asked to serve (2002-2004) as interim Managing Director of the Central Europe subsidiary of a publicly traded US company, executing a turnaround strategy he had designed for that region. Following the successful turnaround, he served (2004-2006) as co-Managing Partner of a Germany-based professional services firm with 21 offices around the world, designing a comprehensive restructuring plan eventually approved by over 80% of the firm’s partners.  In all of these cases, Jeff relied on his ability to listen and understand the relevant challenges and opportunities, strengths and weaknesses and in so doing, win the trust of his clients by constructing plans that were ambitious yet realistic.


Due to Jeff’s extensive experience in Germany and with German companies in the US, Jeff was asked in 2007-2008 to support the design and implementation of a global Ethics & Compliance program for Siemens, one of Germany’s largest companies, following a corruption scandal that rocked the company.  This in turn lead several other European and North American companies to reach out to Jeff for support in designing and implementing Ethics & Compliance programs.  In 2013 Jeff launched an annual “Peer-to-Peer Best Practice Forum” that attracts the global heads of Ethics and Compliance with some of the world’s largest companies for an off-the-record discussion of topics selected by the forum members. 

Training and Coaching Topics

Jeff’s counsel and trainings have included these ethics & compliance topics:

  • Building an Effective Ethics & Compliance Program

  • Board Responsibilities for Ethics & Compliance

  • Anti-Corruption generally

  • Managing Third Party Corruption Risks

  • Managing Supply Chain Corruption Risks

  • Gifts, Hospitality, Sponsorships and Donations

  • Data Protection and Confidential Information

  • Ethics, Compliance, and Finance

  • Ethics, Compliance and the role of Human Resources and Works Councils

Facilitating Peer Collaboration

2010 - Present


Jeff has translated his expertise in coaching and training to small-group peer-to-peer best practice discussion forums. Attended by the global heads for Internal Communications or Compliance, these forums take place once a year, and are by invitation only.  Find out more about the forums and what brings attendees back year after year here.

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