A Look Inside Protiviti From A Member Of Our Women’s Network

As part of our ongoing commitment to our people, Protiviti’s Diversity & Inclusion initiative is focused on attracting, developing and retaining the most talented and qualified professionals regardless of race, disability, national origin, religion, gender, age or sexual orientation. Protiviti has many Employee Network Groups, on both a local and a global scale, that support individuals across our workforce. One of these networks is the Initiative for the Growth and Retention of Women at Work (iGROWW).

iGROWW is an internal network providing a workplace community, particularly focused on our female employees.  The network is a forum to enhance employee success and the working environment through discussions focused on everything from recruiting, advising and mentorship, career growth and retention.

We recently took a moment to catch up with Sophy, an Experienced Consultant in Houston who is also a member of iGROWW.

What do you enjoy the most about being on the iGROWW Committee?

“One of the parts that I have enjoyed the most while being on the iGROWW committee is the fact that I am able to showcase my leadership skills through various tasks such as organizing a trip to the Mission of Yahweh. Another part of iGROWW that I thoroughly enjoy are the TED talks sessions that iGROWW Houston has hosted. There is always so much to learn from each session and I walk away with a new mindset each time, figuring out how I can grow more in my professional career.”

Have you faced any tough situations in your career? How did you face them?

“Throughout the course of my career I have had challenges that I have had to overcome, however, I do not necessarily look at challenges in a negative manner.  My mindset is that without these challenges, there is no room for personal growth! With that said, one of the challenges that I have come across while working is to be able to adapt to different projects in a short amount of time, which also includes adjusting to each project manager’s unique management styles and priorities. However, prioritizing being a good listener, ensuring you understand the task at hand, asking questions when necessary, and responding to inquiries or requests in a timely fashion usually helps tackle those obstacles!”

How do you maintain a work/life balance that works for you?

“Work/life balance is something that is very important to me and actually is one of the great things that I love and appreciate about Protiviti! Before starting my day, I tend to write down a list of items in order of priority and set a realistic daily goal of what I would like to accomplish before the workday is over. That helps me to maintain strong time management. Once I return home, I like to spend time with my family and friends and work out from time to time. Being able to maintain a good lifestyle at home allows me to bring positive energy into the work place each day.”

What career advice do you have for new consultants?

“I would advise new consultants to give yourself permission to just ‘try’. It is something that I have learned in my own professional experience. Before asking your senior or upper level management to weigh in, attempt to resolve the solution yourself.  Another piece of advice I would offer is to network as much as possible and to not be afraid to express any innovative ideas you may come up with!”

Sophy & some of her Houston co-workers at the zoo!

We are very thankful to have Sophy as part of our Protiviti family and as a committed member of our iGROWW program and we appreciated catching up with her as she grows her career.

To hear more about our Employee Network Groups, subscribe to our blog!


A View of the Sabbatical Program from the Top of Mt. Kilimanjaro

If I had a nickel for every time my parents told me in college to “enjoy life now, because you’re going to be working the next 40+ years straight”, I probably wouldn’t have had to work at all. But the times are changing! With a cultural focus on work-life balance, companies are beginning to implement programs that allow you an opportunity to take a break from your day-to-day and experience something impactful. At Protiviti, we are proud to have a Sabbatical Program that does just that!

Let me take you on a journey to Dallas, Texas where Consultant Dillon sits as part of our Internal Audit and Financial Advisory practice. Growing up, Dillon was involved in Boy Scouts and was very adventurous, but he never actually thought he would have the possibility to fulfill a dream he has had since college: to climb and conquer Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa. Dillon applied for a sabbatical through Protiviti’s program and was thrilled when he received the go-ahead to move forward. While the climb itself wasn’t easy, Dillon succeeded in reaching the highest summit in Africa (19,341 feet) after six days, alongside his best friend from college.

Dillon at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro

To round out a pretty amazing accomplishment, Dillon and his friend took off for an African tour post descent, which included scuba diving in Zanzibar (see below) and a safari in Serengeti National Park where they saw zebras, wildebeests and baboons. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like an awfully wild experience to me! All-in-all, Dillon spent three weeks abroad and noted that while it felt long, anyone considering a sabbatical should go for it because “having a company that offers these types of benefits is definitely unique”.


We couldn’t agree more, Dillon, and we can’t wait to see where your Protiviti career takes you next!


#WorkWeDo — Fighting Fraud, One Case At A Time


We continue to highlight examples of the work we do here at Protiviti.  These stories showcase the variety of projects that our people team together on to deliver meaningful results for our clients — and also to learn something of value in the process.

Next up in our #WorkWeDo series, Ashley, a Consultant in Charlotte, shares how her work has helped a financial services client address issues of fraud in their business.

Protiviti Career:  What was the situation?

Ashley:  “The client, which is a private bank, was under consent order to complete a growing backlog of Anti-Money Laundering (AML) alert and case investigations.”

PC:  What was our team tasked with doing?

Ashley:  “When I joined the engagement, we were tasked with investigating and reviewing a backlog of AML cases, as well as “business-as-usual” cases, alerts, and high risk customer accounts.”

PC:  What actions did we take as part of this work?

Ashley:  “We developed 3 work streams that worked diligently to clear this backlog and took the initiative to deliver above and beyond by becoming the primary driver of “business-as-usual” cases, alerts, and high risk customer accounts for the bank. ”

PC:  What was the result?

Ashley:  “Our hard work and willingness to work extra hours to help the client meet regulator expectations ultimately helped us add value in other areas of the engagement, and won us additional work with the client.  What started as 1 to 2 resources helping the bank create action plans to address their consent order has now developed into an engagement of over 50 people.

Through this work, the team has learned collaboration skills (discussing with one another to determine action to take in various situations that we are individually reviewing); patience and attention to detail in our review; and effective business writing.

For me personally, as a result of this work, I studied, tested and became a Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist (CAMS).”

Thanks for the insights, Ashley!  Stay tuned for more glimpses into real client engagements that articulate the #WorkWeDo!

#WorkWeDo — Testing Controls and Taking Off

Work We Do --Image 2
Protiviti perspective provided by Stephanie, New York Senior Consultant

Over the next few weeks, we are highlighting examples of the work we do here at Protiviti.  These stories showcase the variety of projects that our people team together on to deliver meaningful results for our clients — and also to learn something of value in the process.

Next up in our #WorkWeDo series, Erin, a Consultant in Dallas, shares how her work has helped a client in the airline industry to manage its compliance efforts, and at the same time enabled her own career to take off.

Protiviti Career:  What was the situation?

Erin:  “Protiviti has been the outsourced Internal Audit department for a large airline client for over a decade. As such, we are responsible for performing a number of project workstreams including Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) compliance.”

PC:  What was our team tasked with doing?

Erin:  “Each year, we work with the business to test SOX controls to ensure they are operating effectively.”

PC:  What actions did we take as part of this work?

Erin:  “Working as the client’s internal audit function, Protiviti performs all IT SOX compliance work. We are responsible for testing all IT General Controls and Interface Controls and creating workpapers and test sheets.”

PC:  What was the result?

Erin:  “By testing the client’s SOX controls and ensuring they are compliant, we are able to provide management with information regarding the accuracy of their financial reports to help prevent fraud.

For me personally, as a result of this work, I have established an understanding of the airline industry and the IT controls that keep our client’s financial reports accurate. I have been able to develop strong, professional relationships and have contributed more than I could have imagined only a year out of college.”

Thanks for the insights, Erin!  Stay tuned for more glimpses into real client engagements that articulate the #WorkWeDo in the weeks ahead!

#WorkWeDo — Creating Global Efficiencies

Colourful evening at Gardens by the Bay
Protiviti perspective provided by Krishnan, Sydney Associate Director

Over the next few weeks, we will highlight examples of the work we do here at Protiviti.  These stories showcase the variety of projects that our people team together on to deliver meaningful results for our clients — and also to learn something of value in the process.

First up in our #WorkWeDo series, David, a Consultant in Chicago, shares a story about creating efficiencies on a global scale.

Protiviti Career:  What was the situation?

David:  “A fortune 500 global distribution company struggled with weak control over their finance and accounting teams in different countries. They had areas of frustratingly inefficient processes, unclear responsibilities, few policies in place (and even fewer followed), and generally had difficulty collaborating.”

PC:  What was our team tasked with doing?

David:  “The company wanted our help to identify how processes are currently performed, understand what the weakest areas were, and develop a plan to smoothly transition towards an improved organization. To do this, we were to create process maps showing what they do and how it could improve. We were also were to create procedure and training documents so that new job responsibilities would be clearly communicated and followed.”

PC:  What actions did we take as part of this work?

David:  “We first held workshops to discuss what each team does, focusing on what is most painful and frustrating for them. With that information we drew the process maps and detailed areas that could productively change. To support the implementation and future adherence, we then wrote supporting training/procedure documents for their processes. Then, after doing this for one country, we repeated these steps in other countries in the region, using the first one as a baseline.”

PC:  What was the result?

David:  “The client saw a more streamlined and smoothly operating organization. Since we were aligning the processes in different offices in the same region, it started to become much easier for them to all communicate and collaborate. The client’s headquarters in the U.S. also had a better understanding of the foreign region’s work, and was better prepared to support them.

Additionally, this project exposed our team to what multinational collaboration looks like. The goal was not to bring 100% standardization between different countries, but to allow for management to have an easier time controlling and supporting the teams across the globe.”

Thanks for the insights, David, and great job team!  Stay tuned for more glimpses into real client engagements that articulate the #WorkWeDo in the weeks ahead!

#ProtivitiWomenInFSI – Meet Natalie

Tomorrow is American Banker’s 15th annual “The Most Powerful Women in Banking” awards dinner.  We have been counting down the days to this event by spotlighting various #ProtivitiWomenInFSI. This series will feature a variety of women, from diverse backgrounds and career perspectives. While their stories are all unique, the one thing they have in common is that they work closely with Protiviti’s financial services clients. Our final spotlight in the series is Natalie!

Bio photo
Natalie is a Manager in our Risk and Compliance solution in London.
  • What was your path to Protiviti? “I started as a senior consultant in early 2015. Prior to joining Protiviti, I worked with Robert Half as a contractor on a project related to anti-money laundering compliance (in Fort Lauderdale, FL) which was in fact managed by a Protiviti team! Before contracting, I was an AML Compliance Analyst at Citibank and a Lead Customer Service Representative for Fifth Third Bank.”
  • What is one of your most memorable FSI projects? “One of my most memorable FSI projects was for a client based out of Los Angeles, California. We were working on an anti-money laundering (AML) investigations review and also developed an AML training program for our consultants and seniors on the project. The engagement lasted about 6 months and I traveled to our offices in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Charlotte. I worked closely with every level, from consultants to managing directors, and learned the difficulties of managing large scale projects, keeping open communication, and understanding each audience has a different perspective.”
  • What has been the biggest challenge you have faced working in the financial services industry? “I think the biggest challenge I have faced working in the financial services industry is that some clients are already in very tough situations with regulators. Sometimes they think that just doing what the regulator says will clear up their problems, but in reality, regulators may only hone in on certain pieces of the issue. When we go to help clients, it’s challenging (and rewarding) to help them see the bigger picture. Winning work is part of the reward, but I love to see a client’s ‘aha!’ moment.”
  • What advice would you give to both current and future women in banking to face the future with confidence? “Ask the right questions, go to conferences, attend webinars, contribute to whitepapers, and make a true effort to be present when people expect you to be. Your attitude towards opportunities and experiences where you are challenged will make all the difference.”
Natalie is pictured above hiking 3km up to the Reykjadalur springs in Iceland.


#ProtivitiWomenInFSI – Meet Catherine

As we count down the days until American Banker’s 15th annual “The Most Powerful Women in Banking” awards dinner, we also continue to spotlight different #ProtivitiWomenInFSI. This series will feature a variety of women with diverse backgrounds and career perspectives. While their stories are all unique, the one thing they have in common is that they work closely with Protiviti’s financial services clients. Next up in the series is Catherine!

Catherine Graf Picture
Catherine is an Associate Director in our Internal Audit Financial Advisory solution in Atlanta
  • What was your path to Protiviti? “I started my career in public accounting working for KPMG in Buffalo, NY.  My clients were primarily financial institutions in the Western New York area.  After 5 years, I decided to shift gears a bit and join M&T Bank’s internal audit department. As the Internal Audit Manager, I audited accounting policy and corporate reporting, commercial credit risk management, anti-money laundering and sanctions compliance.  After 5 years, my husband and I moved to Houston, TX for his medical residency.  I first learned about Protiviti by speaking to a colleague from the bank.  He had a great experience and recommended it to me, so I joined Protiviti office in 2014.  I can’t believe it has been over three years!”
  • What is one of your most memorable FSI projects? “My most memorable Financial Services Industry project was an external quality assessment (EQA) for a large insurance company. Protiviti had been chosen as the firm to execute this project just prior to the internal audit department getting a new Chief Audit Executive.  Our first kick-off meeting for the project included the new CAE, and he told us that if the decision was up to him, Protiviti wouldn’t have been his first choice. He felt we were stronger in risk management and compliance than internal audit.  I knew from that day on, that we would have to work extra hard to change the CAE’s impression of Protiviti.  We spent a lot of time during the project building and nurturing our relationship with the CAE and his direct reports.  We wanted to make sure the final report we delivered was exactly what they were looking for. In addition to the standard EQA report we issue to assess the company’s compliance with IIA standards, we also issued a 60-page report filled with commentary on internal audit’s current practices in comparison to leading practices of other large financial institutions.  The feedback we received was overwhelmingly positive, especially from the CAE.  They were surprised at how much we learned about their internal audit shop in just a few short weeks.  The CAE invited us to a dinner with his direct reports shortly thereafter.  At the dinner, the CAE presented each member of our team an award of excellence.  We truly went above and beyond in meeting the client’s needs and it was incredibly rewarding.”
  • What excites you the most about your work in the financial services industry? “What excites me the most is the variety of work we do. While I was at KPMG, I was able to audit different financial institutions, but the financial statement work was generally the same.  Similar situation at M&T.  I was able to do different internal audits across the bank, but the internal audit work was generally the same.  At Protiviti every project is different.  Since joining Protiviti, I led a first year SOX compliance project at a small community bank, designed an internal audit policy and procedure manual for a small community bank, assisted in designing the internal audit risk assessment methodology and documenting related policies, procedures and templates for a large consumer credit financial institution, performed several mortgage default servicing audits for a top 10 U.S. bank, led the execution of several anti-money laundering compliance audits at mid-size and large financial institutions, performed several external quality assessments of several large financial institutions, and the list goes on.  Currently, I am leveraging my project management skills to help manage the portfolio of strategic initiatives for the internal audit professional practices group of a global bank.  I truly enjoy the variety and learn so much on each project that I can use on subsequent projects and also in discussions with new clients.”
  • What has been the biggest challenge you have faced working in the financial services industry? “The biggest challenge I have faced by far is personal, and that is becoming a new mom.  My beautiful baby girl Ellie was born in August 2016.  Like most new moms, it was very difficult for me for the first few months adapting to a life where I had to juggle both a career and motherhood.  Before having Ellie, I was used to traveling quite a bit to the financial services hub cities – New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, etc.  Given my husband’s busy residency, my ability to travel is restricted.  Luckily, Protiviti has a very supportive work environment for new moms.  The management team, and the FSI team more broadly, helped me continue to build my network locally in order to get more local work and also put me on projects where I could work on remotely.  Protiviti is truly a great place to work.  Protiviti’s culture is nurturing and one where they want to see everyone succeed in their careers and their life in general.”
Catherine Graf - Pic of Family
Pictured above is Catherine with husband Daniel, and daughter, Ellie