Thursday, March 16, 2017

She watches your back

Corporate lawyer and investigator Sagarika Chakraborty heads a company, which helps in solving espionage and money laundering cases amongst other things. She talks about the risks involved in the job

As glamorous as it may sound, Mumbai-based Sagarika Chakraborty’s job involves great risk too. A corporate investigator, Chakraborty has to solve high-end corporate espionage and money trail fraud cases. Here she explains her unconventional career choice...

You have done law and then MBA. But chose to be a protection agent. Can you explain your journey?
I am a corporate lawyer from National Law University, Jodhpur. I had a three year stint with corporate law, before deciding that intelligence management and security studies was my calling. Unfortunately, the same is not a chosen field of study in India and therefore there is a lack of graduate courses. I then chose the best available option by doing an MBA in Strategy Management from Indian School of Business, Hyderabad.

What does your work entail?
I am a corporate investigator and a security risk consultant. My work entails a myriad of things — right from solving one of the high end corporate espionage cases, to doing money trail about the NPA / fraud cases you read in paper, to conducting event security for a corporate, securing one of the latest releases against piracy, doing information security forensics for a corporate giant, interviewing a suspect or taking care of a corporate honcho through executive protection.

Why did you choose this career?

The profession chose me. It called out to me one day during my stint as a corporate lawyer, when I was assisting in an anti- money laundering case. I realised that I am made for detection, analytics and that nothing gives me more pleasure than strategising security codes and making an investigation plan.

What are the qualities required to become an investigator?

There is no school that can teach you to be an investigator or a risk professional. A sharp memory, good sensory approaches, heightened analytical and logical reasoning ability are a few skills that shall help you.

Do you have a team who helps in the groundwork?
I am the CEO of a startup called IIRIS with a team of over 70 people (in India). We do our own ground work — for unless you know how to dig intelligence yourself, you cannot truly be an investigator. So based on the skill set and trainings obtained, we conduct surveillance, enquiries, trails, research, interviews and so on.

What’s a busy working day in the life of a protection agent/spy?
We are always working and on guard, for you never know when an investigation will need your attention. There have been times when I have gone without sleep for three days, working as per different time zones and yet wished that the days were longer.

A typical day involves client meetings, presentations, on ground investigations, forensic analysis, data analytics and a host of other things. It also involves playing with a lot of cool gadgets and getting to shape the newspaper headlines of the next day!

Have there been any incidents when you were taken for a ride?
To say a ‘no’ would be to lie. Like with every profession, there are inherent risks — however, here the level of risks is quite often very high. The threats that we receive are sometimes subtle and sometimes direct. There are often informers and sources who betray you. You learn along the way, how to mitigate trouble and create back up plans.

Does this work involve co-operating with police? How do they treat you?
We often need to work very closely with the police department. Contrary to the popular belief, the Indian police is actually extremely co-operative and very perceptive. The senior and junior officers alike, are eager to help and I am proud to say that I have picked up a few of my best skills from their tips and while shadowing them in investigations.

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