I'm a CFE

Iryna Shkraba, CFE

Governance, risk and compliance professional, Vienna, Austria

Iryna Shkraba, CFE, has conducted anti-fraud investigations in almost a dozen European countries. She’s a governance, risk and compliance professional who’s worked for organizations such as EY as well as financial industry companies. And while Shkraba is currently based in Vienna, Austria, she takes every chance she can to visit her family and friends in her hometown of Kyiv, Ukraine.

I was born and raised in Kyiv, Ukraine, where I obtained a higher education and my first fraud examination job. I’m currently based in Vienna, Austria, but my family and friends still live in Ukraine. Naturally, my thoughts are always with them, and I get to visit them from time to time during this war. In fact, I answered Fraud Magazine’s email questions for this interview from Kyiv.

I had quite an active childhood and was involved in track and field, swimming and dancing. I was absolutely passionate about detective stories. I think my attraction to investigations started early when I was around 10 years old, watching TV shows and reading detective novels by Agatha Christie, amongst others. I’ve always had an eye for detail and enjoyed collecting pieces bit by bit. Connecting the dots has always been close to my heart.

Throughout my career I’ve supported organizations that ensure business integrity, first when I provided external auditing and due diligence services at EY in Ukraine and in London. In 2017, I moved on to internal audit in continental Europe. I have worked for multinational corporations within the financial services industry in Ukraine, Austria, Germany, the United Kingdom, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. In addition, I recently became an Editorial Advisory Committee member for ACFE’s Fraud Magazine.

I believe that the most challenging investigations have the highest impact careerwise. My truly most memorable case involved multiple jurisdictions, different legal frameworks, cultures and countries. The case involved fraudsters who covered up the tracks of their transaction routes through multiple countries. Had I not been knowledgeable about accounting, law, data protection regulations and financial fraud schemes, I don’t think I would’ve been able to uncover the perpetrated fraud. Most importantly, my interviewing and people skills were what got me the desired outcome.

One of the top lessons I’ve learned working in this field is that it’s all about the people. They are important catalysts for the workflow of your project, and they define its success or failure. This is just as true for the investigative team as it is for the fraudsters on the “other side.”

By the time I earned my CFE credential, I’d already gained some experience in the anti-fraud field. I decided in favor of the credential because I wanted to engage with like-minded professionals and stay abreast of developments in the field. The preparation for the exam itself was a captivating process for me, and I earned my CFE credential after 1.5 months of self-study and completing all sections of the test.

Being a CFE enables you to meet outstanding individuals and discuss techniques with like-minded professionals. For the past two years I’ve been a board member and training director for the ACFE Austria Chapter. I’ve made connections in Austria and throughout Europe that not only helped me but also helped the chapter. Serving on the board has allowed me to interact and connect with different institutions and experts in the anti-fraud, investigations, internal audit, compliance and anti-corruption fields.

For the past two years I’ve been a board member and training director for the ACFE Austria Chapter. I’ve made connections in Austria and throughout Europe that not only helped me but also helped the chapter.

Reach out to your local ACFE chapter. Be brave and follow your interests. For those just starting out in the fraud-fighting field, engaging in a local chapter opens the doors of opportunity, and you’ll get to meet new people and boost your soft skills to take your career to the next level. Luckily, the ACFE has a mentoring program where you can find experienced professionals on a global scale who can assist you on your career path. In my personal experience, such relationships are equally rewarding for mentors and mentees.

“The path lies under the feet of the one who is walking,” is my personal motto. A fulfilling life happens when you act by “putting yourself out there,” even though sometimes it is through trial and error and not just by wishful thinking.

Having the Alps “around the corner,” and being able to ski in January or June (yes, there are still glaciers nearby) are bonuses to living in Austria. You can take a train or a plane and be in another country in only a few hours to explore different cultures, cuisines and landscapes. Being able to speak several languages definitely comes in handy, all part of life’s experience. Art is my current interest and living in Vienna, one of the world’s greatest artistic hives, greatly contributes to my interest.

Jennifer Liebman is assistant editor of Fraud Magazine. Contact her at jliebman@ACFE.com.