My passion for mathematics and logical problem solving has led me into a career in analytics at Deloitte. Recently this opened the door to travel internationally to assist on a large forensic investigation.
I start my day walking to the office where I’m working. A film of frost gently covers the grass beside my steps. This is a novelty for me. In Brisbane in December I’m usually catching the bus to work, where they’ve cranked the air conditioner to eleven. Now I’m thankful for my new ski jacket, which protects from the dry but icy breeze.
And I’m thankful for mathematics, because it has brought me here. I get to use mathematics and logic to detect fraud, identify anomalies in business processes and assist in data management for forensic investigations. I work out a logical strategy to get to a goal and then I write programs in SQL, Python and other languages to accomplish the goal.
Organisations are storing more and more data. This data can tell subtle but profound things about how a business is operating. Maybe a particular region is more productive. Why? Maybe a group of people are colluding to illegally wire money to a joint bank account. How and how much? Data wielded correctly can provide insights into a business otherwise hidden from those in charge. Mathematics has given me the skills to extract and share those insights – and do so internationally.
I always loved maths at school. While others were asking the ‘why would I ever need to know this’ question, I thought it was like playing a really good game that became more complicated the more you knew. I had the same question about usefulness as my classmates, but trusted that if people were willing to teach me, it must be useful! So I jumped in to a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics. I played some more, learning even more tools for solving even more complex problems. I also taught myself basic programming skills, a natural extension of the mathematics I had learnt. And this brought me to Deloitte. They were looking for people with numerical reasoning, abstract problem solving skills and the ability to write in various programming languages.
I’ve been sent into a European winter to work on a large forensic investigation. I can’t give specifics due to the sensitivity of the engagement (yes that does make me feel a little like a secret agent). I can tell you it involves data. Lots of data. Our job is to identify the important data, extract it, package it up in a way that is easily searchable, and deliver it to investigators. There are always challenges that make this more complicated than it first appears, but we are having heaps of fun trying to come up with innovative solutions and make our programs faster.
Mathematics has given me a unique skillset to think about data analytics and automation. It’s given me a language, a framework to reason abstractly. It’s given me confidence in working towards solutions to complex problems. And it’s opened the door to meeting amazing people and visiting amazing places around the world.