Carol HamiltonAs Director of Compliance & Fraud, EMEA at GBG, the global identity data specialist, Carol Hamilton is responsible for growing and developing the group’s Fraud business.

Carol Hamilton studied (MMath) Mathematics and progressed rapidly at global technology giants BAE Systems and SAS, and is regarded as an industry expert on the fraud landscape.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I grew up in Birmingham and went on to study a Masters in Maths at the University of Bath. After various roles in rotation at HSBC, I joined Detica (which was subsequently acquired by BAE Systems) as a Business Consultant in the ‘Global Financial Service Solutions’ group.

I felt lucky to be in a growing part of the business at the right time and supported by a fantastic manager. I was ‘thrown in at the deep end’, travelling around the world to talk to different customers. I gained a lot of valuable insight and understanding in a short space of time and really enjoyed the richness of that experience.

During this time, I quickly developed a passion for fighting fraud – it is complex, ever increasing, and there are a range of societal issues that underpin it (e.g. terrorism, money laundering, people trafficking). I was really struck by just how devastating the impact of fraud was on victims. I could see how important technology was for organisations, giving them the power to disrupt the bad behaviour, and help people globally.

From there, I wanted to extend my learning and drive greater impact. I joined SAS to further develop my expertise in advanced analytics in fraud and compliance, and within a couple of years I progressed to be the Director of Fraud, leading a cross-functional team of experts in EMEA. This was a transitional point for me, as I started to lead and manage people on an international scale. It was hugely rewarding.

In November 2018, I joined GBG as Director of Compliance & Fraud, EMEA. It’s been a great opportunity to build on my experience and delve deeper into the identity data and verification side of fraud – which is increasingly important in our digital world. I really enjoy taking GBG’s leading technologies out to customers as well as working to drive sustainable growth in this key area, making a serious impact for the business. I am responsible for the overall development and execution of GBG’s fraud business across Europe, Latin America, Middle East and Africa.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

I think, as many women can attest to, I can sometimes put my own barriers up. I’ve learned that projecting confidence is key, and it’s important to be aware of these learned behaviours and challenge them, so we are not holding ourselves back. For example, in the early days of my career, I didn’t apply for a promotion role as I initially felt, on paper, that I hadn’t sufficient experience. A male colleague strongly recommended I apply and I soon realised I could thrive in the role but I nearly lost out due to lack of self-belief. That experience motivated me to keep being ambitious, which has been important to getting me to where I am today, successfully leading an international team.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success? 

I think it’s been really important – throughout my roles – to be flexible and always look for opportunities to develop my expertise. For example, it’s been vital to keep up to date with the leading edge technologies to fight fraud and money laundering. As fraudsters continue to become more sophisticated in their methods and technology, both myself and my team actively research and test new technologies, such as machine learning, to continually improve our ability to stop fraudsters.

Another factor for success has been working with diverse teams. It’s so crucial to get a range of views and ideas, and this is something I prioritise within the teams I lead. I am proud to work daily with my global colleagues across the diverse EMEAA team, and our success is partly down to that international, cultural, age and gender diversity we have fostered.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

I started out as one of few women studying MMath Mathematics at the University of Bath. Since then, it’s been an unavoidable fact throughout my career that I’ve been in predominately male dominated environments, often being the only female in a room – either in my own organisation or a customer’s. I’m rather used to this now but I know it can faze others. These experiences have shaped me as a leader as well as a colleague, so I try to actively mentor young women within the industry to give personal, applicable advice and guidance. I think it is important for women to support women in this way, to help continue improving the representation of women in technology.

On a positive note, during my career I have seen the role of women in our sector evolve and improve. It is important we continue to embrace more diversity in general in leadership to continue to break down any barriers and furthermore better our collective success; statistics show that diverse boards regularly lead to improved company performance.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

In short, no! Following my maths degree, technology and consultancy was a good fit for my skills and interests. Once I had my springboard into consultancy at Detica, I soon found that tackling fraud was something I was incredibly passionate about, and that has propelled me to want to stay in this field and plan a longer career here.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech, eg Podcasts, networking events, books, conferences, websites etc?

Having two young children doesn’t leave as much time as I’d like to join networking groups! It’s a juggle and, where I can, I enjoy listening to the latest podcasts and reading books. Hearing stories of successful women and their journeys is really inspiring – it reminds me that anything’s possible and I can work to make a positive impact on the world.

I’d also recommend keeping an eye out for GBG’s new podcast; Connected Commerce: Business beyond borders. We’ve got some great speakers talking about the key topics and issues within the digital economy. Hopefully it will ignite your passion for this technology, which I have found truly rewarding in my career!

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