Meet the team - Amber Ma (Manager – Business Intelligence)

With more than 10 years in the security industry, and successfully guiding numerous Fortune 500 companies through the various risks of doing business in Asia, Amber Ma was at the top of many recruiter’s wish-lists. She ended up accepting a role in Current Consulting Group’s management team in 2019, at the time a relatively small, but rapidly growing management consulting firm based in Hong Kong. In this article, we ask Amber why she chose CCG, get her thoughts on the current state of the security sector in Asia and what role CCG will play in its future.

Please tell us a bit more about your extensive experience in the security industry in China, and where did it all start?

I was headhunted into the industry by an Australian IP Consultancy firm based in Shenzhen back in 2010. The firm provided Intellectual Property advisory and enforcement action for large international clients in China and Asia. As Office Manager of the firm, I managed a team of eight online- and offline investigators and analysts, and aligned the project progress with our clients and coordinated raids with the local government and the police force. My commitment to the industry and my role was cemented early in my career by the numerous and rampant counterfeit cases affecting high-risk industries in China at the time, such as safety-components and food industries, potentially harming countless individual consumers by substandard and sometimes harmful products flooding the markets.

You have helped numerous Fortune 500 companies protect their IP and minimize their business risk in Asia. Could you give us an example on a project that was particularly complex, but ultimately successful?

One of our many successful cases from my time with the firm involved one of the world’s largest manufacturer of “Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS)” batteries. Our online team found several suspected counterfeit products for sale online, or “red flags”, during our initial investigation. This prompted us to take action by purchasing samples to be investigated by us and our client, which later turned out to be counterfeit, as suspected. We sent our agents to visit their sales office in Guangzhou. Their sales representatives then took us to visit their factories in just south of the city, in Dongguan, where we discovered several counterfeit products being assembled in their production lines. We managed to develop a good source with knowledge from inside the counterfeit factory, who continuously reported back evidence of large scale counterfeit production- and shipping data to our team. With this indisputable evidence, we approached the local AIC in Guangzhou. The raid was conducted the same week, and due to the large volume of counterfeit goods, both the AIC and local police got involved. The owner of the factory was later arrested as well, and the factory premises was sealed. After we supported the local police force with the full inventory and seizure list, it was revealed that the total value of counterfeit goods was more than 1 million US dollars, one of the largest seizures to date in the UPS industry in China. Our client was very pleased by the scale of the seizure and the quick turnaround time of the case. From the initial red flags to the seizure of the goods, it had taken our team less than six week to wrap up the case.

We are curious, why did you choose CCG over your other opportunities at hand?

I’ve had several opportunities over the years, often with large multinational corporations with established legal- and/or risk departments looking to establish or expand their China operations. None of them presented a really compelling case for me, and it wasn’t until Björn Wahlström (Managing Director CCG) started talking to me about the other areas of security, and the world outside of IP work that I seriously considered a change. Current Consulting has a very interesting mixture of skills and clients we serve, where BP is really just one component. Things moved quite quickly thereafter and I joined CCG in February 2019 and I have never looked back

How has the security industry evolved over the past few years, and where do you feel it is going?

Fraud cases are increasing the past few years, and has only escalated during the pandemic. Comprehensive Risk Management is more relevant than ever, especially when considering cyber security and online fraud which has adapted and spread along the changing online shopping- and trading habits in the past year especially. Large corporations have recently started consolidating their legal- and risk departments under newly formed “compliance departments” to meet the growing challenges in the industry.

How do you see CCG fitting into this these changes in the industry?

There is a growing need for security companies with a solid regional basis, and able and willing to think outside the box. CCG are particularly suited to support our clients with building supply chain resilience and implement a risk management strategies. While overall risks and returns in the market have increased, the need for capable and reliable corporate investigations will also increase.

You are taking the CFE exams this year. Can you tell us more about that, and how your skills as a (soon to be) certified fraud examiner comes to use in the day to day work of the company?

One of the big new areas for me and CCG is litigation support and financial investigations. We knew already 2019 that we needed more skills in these areas, and as part of building those skills I headed down the path to becoming a certified fraud investigator with the ACFE (Association of Certified Fraud Examiners). ACFE is the world’s largest anti-fraud association and premier provider of anti-fraud training and education. It has a membership of over 85,000 anti-fraud professions in over 100 countries.

Compliance professionals need to have a knowledge background and skills in related fields such as finance, law, investigation, criminology, psychology and so on. I’ve been studying the CFE courses including Fraud Prevention & Deterrence, Law, Finance and Investigation since early 2020. It is a great experience for me to learn more knowledge, skills and meet more industry professionals. This knowledge and skills help me serve CCG clients better. Besides, we also got a new client and expanded our networking from the ACFE networking.

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