José Hernandez, the founder and CEO of Ortus, is a globally recognised expert in corporate misconduct, scandal remediation, and ethical leadership. His experience advising global companies over many years has taught him that no business is immune from the possibility of an existential crisis. He believes that although corporate misconduct may be inevitable, scandals can be avoided through preparedness and proactive leadership.
In 2008, after serving as a partner at PwC, José joined forces with former FBI Director Louis Freeh to establish a new firm focused on corporate investigations and remediation in Europe. In 2016, he founded his own crisis-response consultancy, Ortus Strategies AG.
José has been a strategic advisor to global companies headquartered in Europe, North America, and Asia. In this role, he has helped them navigate once-in-a-lifetime scandals involving fraud, bribery, and money laundering — in some cases, the most serious crisis in the brand’s hundred-year history. He has interacted on behalf of clients in complex enforcement actions involving the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and various national authorities. José also served as deputy on a major FCPA monitorship.
At the core of his practice, José works to identify the underlying causes of misconduct and tackle them head-on before they escalate into scandal, to protect both a company’s reputation and its bottom line. He believes that organizations can reach their ESG goals and prevent scandals by having right corporate culture, structures, and strategies in place to meet the expectations of their stakeholders.
His research and approach are documented in the book Broken Business: Seven Steps to Reform Good Companies Gone Bad, published by Wiley (2018) and translated into Dutch and German. In addition, he has contributed commentary on corporate misconduct to media outlets including BBC World News, CNBC, CNN, the Globe and Mail, and Forbes.
José is a vocal advocate of the accounting profession in Canada. In 2021, he testified before BC’s Cullen Commission representing CPA Canada. Since 2016, he has also served on Canada’s Advisory Committee on Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing.
José holds degrees in Mathematics and Accounting from the University of Waterloo. He is a Chartered Professional Accountant (Ontario), Certified Public Accountant (Delaware), and Chartered Financial Analyst. He completed a Ph.D. in at VU University Amsterdam, where he serves as guest faculty; his doctoral dissertation was titled “Principles, Processes, and Practices of Fraud Prevention.” He has also lectured at research institutions in Canada, Sweden, the UK, El Salvador, and Switzerland.