You have been in Dubai for a while now; what brought you to the region?
I have been living in Dubai since 2009. The main reason for my move was an opportunity to take a role within the technology division of the Big 4. I was initially recruited in 2008 for an India-based position and was then promoted to a role in the UAE to join an onsite team in the region.
And, how exactly did you end up in forensics?
I started my career on the IT side, working with teams across a number of practice groups across the entire Dubai office. The Dubai digital forensic lab was set up in 2010 and I was asked early on to be a part of developing it from a tech and commercial perspective. Working with the forensics business motivated me to learn more about the practice and its clients. The investigative, detailed nature of the work really resonated with me. As soon as an associate role opened up on the fraud investigations team, I was offered a position to start working in a client facing forensics capacity. I’ve never looked back!
I’m sure you’ve worked on some interesting matters – what’s been the most exciting to date?
All of my work is wildly interesting and usually high profile, so there are many to choose from. However, most of it is also extremely confidential, so there are not that many matters I can talk about! I have done a lot of fraud investigations in the financial services space. Banks have a significant volume of data as well as a growing number of fintech type repositories. This always makes the forensics work more challenging, which I enjoy. The data is highly sensitive and there will be those in the business who do not know what is going on, so that also gives it a sense of excitement! Given the volume collected, you really have to use the full extent of processing and hosting technology. This work pushed me to get further qualifications including a certification as a Nuix eDiscovery Master.
With the world moving ‘remote’ what are the biggest challenges you’ve faced in the forensics world?
The biggest challenges faced were mainly during and after COVID, as most of the collections were remote, whereby most users were not plugged into their usual networks, and so we had to create bespoke workflows using various tools to ensure a defensible and forensically sound collection. The most challenging part was security and ensuring that the connections (Wi-Fi or other) were safe to access and collect and transfer data through. The other obvious one is of course the amount of new data created in the WFH culture. Whether that is Teams video calls or chats, so much more data is being created, stored and is therefore a source of information/risk to clients.
There are so many different data sources used on a daily basis – how do you keep up with being able to ensure you can collect from them?
Forensics is almost like a game of cops and robbers. We see new data sources as part of our work regularly and we need to figure out ways of collecting from them. More generally, I stay up-to-date by listening to forensics podcasts. I have ties with most of the key forensic experts in the region and we share industry stories, updates and trends, not only on various data sources but also on the latest forensics tools. I often spend time testing collection methods and tools on new or challenging data sources. It has always been a passion of mine to fix problems and I will always thrive on finding better ways of solving clients’ problems.
How have you found the transition to TLS?
Compared to the Big Four, TLS is far more technically oriented, which is my favourite part of the job. The Big 4 have years of experience as some of the most successful professional services organisations in the world. Whilst TLS has many experts who could easily take leadership roles in that kind of environment, there is a real focus on technology and expertise. We have development teams around the world building and improving our own tech, often in direct response to client feedback but I know we are also not shy to license tech when we need it. I’ve also really enjoyed the global culture TLS has. Again, my previous employers had this kind of coverage but it all seems really connected at TLS. I’ve spoken to, worked and/or trained with colleagues from North America, Europe and Asia in my short time here. There's real camaraderie amongst our forensics team. It's made the transition really easy. Strategically, our leadership is also focusing on the GCC. We have a great presence and book of clients here but it has been highlighted as an area for strategic investment in people and tech – so I’m really grateful to be a part of that. TLS offers great mentoring programs whereby senior staff members are always ready to help their junior counterparts.
Finally, outside of work, how do you unwind and get away from the forensics world?
Outside of work, I spend time on outdoor activities like cricket and I take part in Indian classical music concerts. I love to watch movies and also spend time with my family on long drives and visiting good restaurants.