Chapter Leader Profile: Gabriela Coldea, CFE

Early in her career, Gabriela Coldea, CFE, understood how beneficial networking and volunteering were for her and her community. She has devoted her time tutoring young students, serving on multiple boards and, most recently, volunteering as the chapter president for the Orange County ACFE Chapter. 

What do you do for a living?
In 2014, I started my own recruiting agency, Arch360 Group, with an emphasis on serving the financial services and IT industries. We work with candidates ranging from managers to C-level executives. Our role is to learn what is missing in their careers and then align the capabilities and interests of these high performers with the needs of our clients.

Prior to opening my search consulting agency, I worked for a Chicago-based consulting firm. During my time there I managed fraud investigations, competitive intelligence, and investigative and market research projects for clients in a variety of industries in both domestic and international markets. 

Why did you decide to enter the anti-fraud field?
The anti-fraud field was always a career that interested me because it gives me the opportunity to work on an ever-changing, always broadening array of topics and projects. These continue to challenge me to develop fresh perspectives and to grow professionally.

How has the CFE benefited your career?
The credential opened doors for joining the CFE network of professionals. The exposure to continuing education through the seminars and conferences offered by the local and national ACFE enhanced both my credibility and my marketability before I opened my own agency.

How long have you been involved with the chapter? 
I became actively involved with the Orange County ACFE chapter in November of 2011 and began to serve on the board as an advisory board member in 2012. Then, in 2013 and 2014, I served as the secretary. Since 2015, I have served as the chapter president.

Why did you become active with the chapter and the board?
Ever since I started my professional career, I always saw the importance of networking and being involved in the professional community. I previously served on various boards such as the Dubuque Area Committee of Foreign Relations and I’ve been a member of the Young Professionals for years.

In 2011, I moved from the Chicago area to Orange County, California. I was looking for opportunities to grow professionally as well as to extend my network in my new home state. Serving in the local ACFE chapter gave me the opportunity to get involved in the professional community here. I began by getting involved in organizing fraud seminars, finding speakers, and creating opportunities for our members to network and stay up to date on fraud-related topics and best practices. It’s a great feeling to be part of the organizing committees and to foster successful events.

What has been a highlight during your time on the board?
The fact that we were able to reconnect with the IIA and ISACA local chapters, and to develop a successful 2-day joint fraud seminar in 2017. Building on that achievement, we are now in the process of planning a 2018 joint event as well. This will allow our members to benefit from all these great resources so they have the ability to obtain more hours of continuing education. 

What are the benefits of serving as a chapter leader?
The main benefit is exposure to the fraud-related community. The opportunity to network with the local professionals and keep up with the latest trends in the industry has been tremendously valuable to me as well.

What goals would you like to help the chapter accomplish?
The main goal our board is working to accomplish now is to grow our local membership and to continue to offer current and relevant seminars to our chapter members.

Do you have any advice for other chapter leaders?
Always be open-minded and be ready to network with other professional communities in your market. Being able to relate to your members’ expertise, and to have the ability to offer relevant and current seminars, not only enhances your own credibility as a leader, but it helps inspire others to do more of the same in their own areas of influence. This helps create a virtuous cycle and engenders an even greater sense of energy within the chapter. 

I’ve also found it’s especially important to have a great relationship with the board members, and to make sure everyone has unique, dedicated roles and responsibilities. This way the board has the ability to best serve its members and create relevant and successful events in a broader array of sub domains. 

What is your personal motto? Does it have any special meaning?
"Things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least." ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. 

To me, it’s vital to stay focused on the end goal. In life, as in fraud investigations, it’s easy to get sidetracked or to pursue lesser goals. To have emails, calls and other daily events eat up the best part of the day and to realize at the end of it that we didn’t accomplish the truly important elements we set out to pursue. This motto helps me keep what’s most important always at the forefront.

What do you consider your greatest achievement to date?
My greatest achievement was the opportunity to move from Romania to the U.S. and become a U.S. citizen. It was a challenge from which I’ve grown tremendously. The fact that I was able to learn a new language and to integrate into a new culture proved to me that I have the capability to learn fast, apply what I learn in very practical ways and to open my own business. 

What are your favorite activities and hobbies outside of work?
Currently, my favorite activity is spending time with my toddler daughter who makes every day new and fun. In my free time, I enjoy tutoring math and helping students achieve higher goals.  Another activity both my husband and I enjoy is competing in the Spartan Race. Our goal is to complete the 2018 Spartan Trifecta, and along the way, to keep growing on every frontier.