Growing up, I had an affinity for math and problem solving, and accounting seemed a logical career path. An internship for an accounting firm, however, helped me determine that I was not made to be an auditor.
I began to search for opportunities to shift my career path and I learned of a litigation/fraud investigations opportunity in another large accounting firm. I called the recruiter, whom I had previously met, and asked her to assist me with the application process. I was excited and relieved when they offered me the position. Thus was my first success story with the underlying theme: if you don’t ask, you won’t receive.
The new millennium witnessed an explosion of high-profile accounting fraud cases like Enron, WorldCom, etc. As these investigations unfolded, it became apparent that gathering and analyzing large volumes of electronic data would be essential to the investigation process. Exactly how to uncover and analyze the data, however, was not so clear—and thus the field of e-discovery was born.
As a data junkie, I found this new field fascinating, and began to grow my knowledge by reading books and attending conferences with legal and technical experts. My understanding of the field grew and soon I began to consider what I could do with this newfound passion. Given the rapidly growing need for e-discovery services, it seemed logical and even necessary that my firm should focus on this new field. I knew I would love to be a part of that, but how?
My husband quickly helped me realize it all originated with the concept that helped me launch my career: if you don’t ask, you won’t receive. On this premise, I scheduled a meeting with the partner in charge of the litigation and fraud investigations practice and simply asked if I could develop this new market for our firm. He was more than happy to let me round out the practice. That was over a dozen years ago, and our firm now has a robust forensic technology practice, encompassing computer forensics, e-discovery, and data analytics.
Today, I look around at the professionals who have joined me on this journey and I am amazed at what we have accomplished. Knowing that I asked for an opportunity to create something new, and then worked as part of an incredible team to make it real, is endlessly rewarding.
What advice would you give young women building/preparing for a career?
Don’t be afraid to be the only woman in the room. The other attendees will likely remember you and your name. Do enough research to be educated, and take enough risk to be successful. You will experience highs and lows in your career, they are inevitable. If you learn from the lows, the highs will be even better. A male mentor of mine once told me that you cannot accelerate experience. You also cannot underestimate the value of it. Appreciate the collective experience of your colleagues and learn from it.