Director Forensic – Cindy shares with us which skills are of importance as a leader in the Forensic team.
Cindy talks about leadership skills in KPMG's Forensic team.
Many of us immediately associate the word forensic with CSI and areas where a crime took place. What exactly does your team do?
Well, we neither investigate crime scenes nor do we engage in car chases. But on to the serious stuff. Our work relates to white-collar crimes. It consists of three pillars: prevention, detection and reaction. My area focuses on the reactive area. For instance, we help our clients investigate serious incidents, such as fraud or corruption. We act as external advisors and prepare reports that may also contain recommendations on what steps to take next.
You can look back on 15 years of experience in the area of forensics. What is your fascination with this topic?
Even though I have participated in countless projects, each case has its very own twists and turns. We are constantly challenged with new and exciting cases and can learn from each one of them. Besides, our business is very volatile. It may well be that we receive an urgent call today and are in the thick of an investigation by tomorrow. It definitely never gets boring in this line of business.
“It may well be that we receive an urgent call today and are in the thick of an investigation by tomorrow. It definitely never gets boring in this line of business.”
You hold a leadership function within KPMG. What does it take to become successful in such a role?
I think this can be summarized in three points: Experience and skills in leadership and staff management as well as technical know-how. I need a good ear to hear what my team needs, how the collaboration works best and where the challenges may lie in this collaboration. At the same time, I can only push my team further if I can also support them with my technical background. We are a heterogeneous team, which I truly appreciate. Our team does not only consist of economic scientists but also consultants with backgrounds in psychology and law. Personally, I started my career in the KPMG Forensic team in South Africa. I then worked in Audit and became a certified accountant before I got back into forensics by joining the Forensic team in Switzerland.
How do you pass on knowledge?
It is very important to me that each new employee receives a proper onboarding. The idea is to understand how we work. Also, this way they get to know KPMG as a firm and our multitude of services better and can thus advise our clients better. After this, people start working on cases very fast -- the on-the-job learning curve is steep. Such an onboarding may require some time. However, each and every one of us also brings along their own unique knowledge. This is incredibly valuable.
“Whoever wishes to work with us should ask and be able to respond to the following two questions: Why am I fascinated by forensics? And: am I the flexible type?”
Do you have some good tips on how to get started in KPMG’s Forensic team?
Whoever wishes to work with us should ask and be able to respond to the following two questions: Why am I fascinated by forensics? And: am I the flexible type? For me, it is important that my team members can already show that they relate to forensic topics as it is a very specific area. This may be previous professional experience or an internship but it could also be a job or having studied this topic. Simultaneously, it is enormously important to be flexible. After all, we never know when and where we will have to fight fires next. White-collar crimes do not generally come with a fixed schedule. This is why it is important to be agile and to keep one’s day-to-day activities flexible.