Mentoring Success Story: Janet and Lisa

Janet Miller, CFE, is a mentor in the ACFE Mentoring Program. Janet spent more than 10 years in the Oil and Gas Industry as an auditor and is now a Senior Internal Auditor for a major healthcare organization in Houston, Texas. Janet hopes that her experience and knowledge will help inspire others in their efforts to detect and prevent fraud. Janet participated in the first session of the ACFE Mentoring Program, and her mentee was Lisa Smith.

Lisa began her career in computer application development and later pursued a career in investigation after graduating with a degree in Criminal Justice. Lisa runs a small Etsy business, is an avid genealogist and likes to occasionally ride her Harley motorcycle to relieve some stress. These two members worked together over the course of six months to help Lisa reach a big professional goal. Here’s more about their journey together.

Why was it important for both of you to join the Mentoring Program?
Janet: I remembered the first fraud investigation I was assigned to as a brand-new auditor almost 15 years ago. All the feelings and thoughts I had, at the time, came flooding back in an instant: excitement, eagerness, fear, insecurity, etc. Was I ready for something like this? What if I get it wrong? How will I know I’m doing this right? I was so fortunate to have a highly skilled manager willing to teach and guide me through the process and become a mentor for me. Fifteen years later, he’s still my mentor and someone that continues to help guide and shape my career. Being able to become a mentor for someone else, and give back, is a reflection of the amazing skills and dedication my own mentor has continued to provide me all these years.

Lisa: I’ve been a private investigator for about eight years, but most of the work I had in that field was late-night surveillance. I wanted to pursue more white-collar investigation. I joined the ACFE to become certified for that kind of work and signed up for the Mentoring Program as soon as I saw it announced because I felt its benefits would be tremendous. I knew it would give me the structure I needed to focus on my studies and complete the CFE Exam as soon as possible. I had just left a job in a completely different field, which was truly a bad fit for me, so my ultimate goal was to find a job that would utilize this new credential and skill set. I felt if I got a good mentor, I would be able to learn the best way to complete the exam, discover what employment opportunities were available for CFEs and get real-world examples of how these credentials are used.

Janet, how did you know Lisa would be the right mentee for you?
Lisa had specific goals to study and pass the CFE exam and subsequently land a position using her credential. As a CFE, I knew I could help answer any questions she might have as she studied for the exam, provide different studying techniques that worked for me and others, and help keep her focused on her goals in a positive way. Lisa was also looking to basically change career paths from a long history in health care to an industry in which she could use her newly minted credential. As someone who changed career paths very similarly, I knew how difficult this could be and the struggles and successes encountered along the way.

Most importantly, Lisa is a positive and joyful person who is open and willing to learn. It was very clear from our first Discovery Call that our personalities and characteristics “clicked.”

Lisa, what were you looking for in a mentor? What inspired you to request Janet?
I had worked with mostly men in the private investigation business, so I wanted a female mentor, someone who had my same perspective. I hoped to find a CFE that had investigation experience in the area where I lived or at least in my state. I did not find a match with that criteria, so I widened my search and included where I used to live and wanted to move back to – Houston, Texas. Janet’s name came up as someone who, while not having an investigation background, did work in the health care industry as I had for 30 years. I felt we might have enough in common to create a pleasant relationship and was delighted when she became my mentor after our initial Discovery Call. 

What advice do you both have for anyone who wants to join the ACFE Mentoring Program?
Janet: Set goals and boundaries together and reassess them periodically. Use the Mentoring Program resources and guidance forms available through the ACFE to help you get started and stay focused. Take notes of your meetings just as you would for a work meeting. This is a great resource as you reassess goals and boundaries periodically. Don’t be afraid to reach out with questions you might have.

Be open, honest and respectful of your mentee’s time.

Lisa: When entering into a partnership, the best thing a mentee can do is be proactive with their participation in the program. They should not expect the mentor to set out tasks for them to complete or have all the answers on how to proceed. A mentor is there for guidance and as a resource to bounce ideas off of. Regular communication is also extremely helpful to keep the relationship going. Having regularly scheduled meetings respects each other’s time and keeps things moving forward. Also, treating each other as equals and with respect is paramount to creating a balanced dynamic.

What has been the most rewarding part of your journey together?
Janet: There have been many rewarding parts of our journey together, but the most rewarding was the day Lisa passed the CFE Exam and successfully achieved one of her goals. It wasn’t too long after that she achieved her second goal of becoming employed as an auditor. Lisa worked very hard to reset her career path, and I am humbly honored to have been a part of her journey. Lisa is truly a success story for the ACFE Mentoring Program. 

The most rewarding part of this journey, personally, is the amazing friend I have gained in the process. I was so blessed with the opportunity to meet Lisa in person when she flew to Houston and we attended the Houston Chapter ACFE Fraud Conference together this year. Getting to know her personally has been a joy for me and my family. I have no doubt our friendship will be lifelong and one with many success stories along the way.

Lisa: The most rewarding part of this program for me was making what I hope is a lifelong friend! But that was really an added and unexpected bonus. The best part of the program was its success; not only did I complete my study and acquire my CFE credential two months into the program, but I became employed as an auditor shortly after that. I also had the opportunity to meet my mentor in person.  

I am most grateful for Janet’s guidance and constant support, especially when my spirits were sagging. Her encouragement and willingness to share her knowledge and experience went above and beyond. Finally, a recent opportunity has presented where I may be able to help Janet achieve one of her career goals – a great finish to a wonderful mentorship!

Enrollment for the next session of the ACFE Mentoring Program is now open. Visit the Mentoring Program homepage for more information on how you can enroll.