Rose Karam, CFE, is senior internal auditor for the City of Cleveland. While her life’s journey has seen her crisscrossing the country and following her passions for skydiving, sailing and other experiences, it is her knowledge in accounting to which she returned to build a career. Today, Karam has an intense sense of focus and dedication to preventing and detecting fraud.
Tell us a little about your nontraditional career path.
I was a skydiver for 15 years, and my husband and I ran a skydiving jumpsuit business for seven years. I made more than 1,000 jumps before trying my hand at sailing. We bought, gutted and converted a 40-foot bus into our home, doing all the work ourselves. We learned welding, plumbing, electrical work and bodywork. Then we began crisscrossing the county driving semitrucks and delivering freight. Back in Cleveland, I worked at a storage facility renting spaces and moving trucks, setting up the books on the computer and doing taxes. Later I found myself at another nonprofit agency as an accountant.
How did you become passionate about fighting fraud?
While in college, I worked at the main post office and considered becoming a postal inspector. This is when my curiosity for investigative work first arose. Later on, I worked for a nonprofit agency and heard stories of a woman who had gotten away with a sizeable embezzlement. Reputation was at stake. Despite all the red flags, there was no tightening of controls. I learned that trust is not a control. It’s wishful thinking. I set a goal to gain more knowledge on fraud investigation, which led to my Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) credential.
What are some of your duties as senior internal auditor for the City of Cleveland?
As a senior internal auditor, I often lead audits and provide recommendations based on my experience or expertise in the field and provide guidance to new members.