ACFE Member Profile
Dhara Bhatt, CFE, CPA
Manager of Compliance and Monitoring
Sage Therapeutics, Inc.
Bhatt, CFE, CPA, is a manager of compliance and monitoring at Sage
Therapeutics, Inc., a mid-sized biopharmaceutical company
headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts. As a biotechnology compliance
professional, Bhatt strives to create a comprehensive compliance program that
can navigate the intricacies of the industry. To do this,
Bhatt relies on her love of problem-solving to come up with unique compliance
solutions. Always with an eye toward the future, Bhatt looks forward to the
work that each new day will bring.
The opinions expressed in this article are Dhara
Bhatt’s and are not representative of Sage Therapeutics, Inc.
How did you become passionate about
up in South Brunswick, New Jersey — a small town located near Princeton. I was
a quiet kid, but I was focused and observant. My family always said that I had
to know everything about my surroundings before I decided to engage in them. In
high school and college, I discovered a passion for problem-solving and taking
facts from different data sets and putting them together to create patterns or
a story. This manifested in my course work as an accounting student, but also
in real-life situations such as when I was a resident assistant in college or
served in undergraduate government.
traits from my childhood stayed with me into adulthood, and I am fortunate to have
a career that complements them. My interest in this field stemmed from the
skills it requires, but once I began client work, I saw how rewarding it was to
play a part in protecting businesses and their customers. To me, fighting fraud
means doing what is right. There are always the components of investigations and
remediation, but my passion lies in preventing fraud in the first place. This
entails understanding your landscape, supporting and listening to employees,
engaging a positive tone at the top, and creating an environment where people
are proud to show up and represent their company.
What is one of the biggest lessons you have
learned since becoming a CFE?
this career path because of its evolving nature. Becoming a CFE has allowed me
to learn and access foundational knowledge that has assisted me on a variety of
projects. The biggest lesson I have learned since earning this credential is
that it’s up to us fraud fighters to keep up with the rest of the world.
Technology is advancing every day, and people are getting smarter. We always
need to be prepared for the next step by reading the news, networking and
consulting with experts or understanding new regulations. The ACFE offers many
resources to assist members with doing this. It’s important to never stop
What does your current role at Sage
oversee field monitoring and compliance activities in the Northeast region, in
addition to being a compliance business partner to our field teams. I work
across diverse systems and data sets to identify real-world intersections of
teams and behaviors, which then contributes to the overall risk-based model for
our compliance program.
What steps led you to your current
graduated from Boston College’s Carroll School of Management with a degree in accounting
and finance. Boston College has an excellent business program with a rigorous
core curriculum. The school’s holistic approach to education, guided by its
Jesuit values, requires students to take classes in almost every subject,
instead of having them be siloed into only one path. With this mindset, I
wanted a career that allowed me to fuse all of my learnings and be dynamic. One
day, I walked into an information session for EY’s Forensic & Integrity
Services group completely by accident. I’m glad I did because this session
introduced me to a career that was exactly what I was looking for — fast-paced,
complex and unpredictable. I interned with EY Forensics that summer and went on
to work there for several years. I had the privilege of conducting
investigations, remediations and risk assessments for a variety of industries,
and I had the chance to learn from many mentors along the way. I found my
passion my last year with EY, when I transitioned to life science clients,
specifically pharmaceutical companies. The pharmaceutical industry is one of
the most complicated when it comes to navigating the vast amount of regulation
set forth by federal and state governments, and internationally. It’s also one
of the most penalized by the Department of Justice for companies who get it
current employer, Sage Therapeutics, was my client during my last year with EY.
In 2018, Sage was still a clinical-stage company, and was just beginning to put
together its commercial organization to prepare for the launch of their first
product, which occurred in June 2019. I was engaged to assist the Chief
Compliance Officer in building the compliance function from the ground up, with
tasks such as drafting Sage’s Code of Conduct and various policies, creating
training content and preparing the company for responsibilities such as transparency
reporting and monitoring/auditing. It was a unique opportunity, and every day
was filled with new learning opportunities. I enjoyed my time with Sage so much
that I pursued a full-time opportunity a year later.
Bhatt at Antelope Island State Park in Salt Lake City.
What is a memorable case or project that
you have worked on?
my most memorable projects was working with developers to create a compliance
workflow tool. The tool, which is available to the entire company, allows users
to obtain the proper approvals for proposed fee-for-service activities and
sponsorships, and calculates fair market value payments. I manage development,
create and provide trainings to the company, and complete reporting and
monitoring based on built-in analytics and dashboards. This tool contributes to
making compliance intuitive, has ease of use and overall will be essential as
we continue to grow as a company.
How has earning the CFE credential impacted
graduating from Boston College, I quickly earned my CPA license. However, with
my then-job as a forensic accountant, I wanted to develop my skill sets to open
even more opportunities for my future. The CFE allowed me to expand on many
more areas that were relevant in my career path, such as investigative
interviewing, report writing and knowing applicable legal standards. The CFE
credential, and the resources that the ACFE offers, has made me more confident
that I have the necessary tools to navigate this extremely complex and ever-evolving
world of fighting fraud.
the CFE credential was a preferred certification when applying to my current
job and in many other job postings I have explored in the past. More companies
are realizing the value of this certification and seeing the results of the
professional development it offers in the workplace.
What activities or hobbies do you like to
do outside of work?
work requires me to be on the road often, so I am always looking to take
advantage of the points and miles I earn. I love to travel and spend a lot of
time trying to find the next best vacation deal and planning trips — anything
from exploring new parts of my home in New England to anywhere around the world.