Natasha E. Williams, CFE
CFE lets compassion and instinct guide her career
Unlike some Certified Fraud Examiners (CFEs), Natasha E. Williams, CFE, CIA, didn’t begin her career in fraud. The global compliance manager for Bio-Rad Laboratories began in tax, but became interested in fraud after meeting a forensic accountant. She took a leap of faith and earned her CFE credential without a set plan. “When I first received the CFE credential I wasn’t working in fraud and had no idea how I was going to get the experience necessary to land a job in the industry, but here I am today,” she said. “I love what I do and I am living the dream — and so can you.”
The greatest lesson I have learned since becoming a CFE is to believe in the totality of possibility and the power of your dreams.Natasha E. Williams, CFE
Global Compliance Manager
San Francisco, California, U.S.
The greatest lesson I have learned since becoming a CFE is to believe in the totality of possibility and the power of your dreams. There is more than one path to success and sometimes we don’t know how we will achieve our career goals or dreams, but it’s necessary to keep pressing on and grow as you go. I’ve learned that it is not necessary to know the “how.” Just believe that it is possible and follow your gut without trying to figure it all out in advance. It will happen how you least expect it — I’m living proof. Now I’ve been to more than 40 countries around the world and performed hundreds of audits.
This job can be exciting, but it is not necessarily easy from both an emotional or professional standpoint. Uncovering a fraud can be exhilarating in the sense that you have done your job well; however, it is not really anything I feel proud about from a humanity perspective. Businesses and people’s lives (both guilty and innocent) are impacted. It’s kind of sad in actuality, but it’s the job that we have signed up to do. In this industry, terminating a contract could result in businesses failing and people losing their jobs and livelihoods, so I take this very seriously. I go into an engagement being optimistic that they are being compliant because I know what non-compliance could mean for their business and employees in some destitute countries. I consider myself a compassionate auditor with a difficult job to perform, but I do what I have to do even though it is not always easy.
There have been many interesting experiences from across the globe, but the two most memorable audit engagements so far are kind of funny situations. The first is when I performed an anti-corruption audit, I found a vendor fraud imposed on the auditee unbeknownst to them. That was an added benefit for them. I didn’t find that they were committing any fraud but saved them money in the process.
Secondly, as auditors, we always joke that if we ever find a document or piece of evidence that has “fraud” or “bribe” written on it, we should frame it because no one is ever going to actually label a transaction in this manner — until it happened! Right there in black and white was a notation with the word “FRAUD” in large, capital letters encircled. I couldn’t believe my eyes — it was like I had just spotted a unicorn. After gathering my composure and further interviewing, we found out that it was actually not what it appeared to be on the surface. In summary, the credit card had been compromised and the accounting manager had written “fraud” next to the transaction that the bank was investigating. So it was a fraud, but not the kind we were looking for. We laughed about that for days because we thought we had found a unicorn in the field of fraud fighting.
Being an ACFE member has made me proud to be connected and identified with an awesome group of professionals recognized across the globe as leading experts in the fields of fraud, anti-bribery and anti-corruption. The training is top notch and enables me to keep my skills current and on par with changes in this ever-expanding industry.
I consider myself a creator. When I am not working I am creating something, from inspiring books and journals to intriguing screenplays and salacious reality TV programming. However, the best thing about being a creator is having a creative outlet that uses both sides of my brain. I can create from anywhere in the world, even when on the road.
ACFE membership is open to individuals of all job functions, industries and levels of experience who are interested in the prevention, detection and deterrence of fraud. If you want to level up your anti-fraud career, we can help.