Follow the money: Finance manager turns criminal investigator

By Melissa Nilan, Marketing and Communications

Monika Kaczorowska’s interest in banking started when she was a little girl. She enjoyed visiting the bank with her mother and chatting with the friendly lady who would give them money. When she was old enough to start working, it was an easy decision to seek a job at a financial institution. She started out as a teller at Greater Vancouver Community Credit Union in 2010, and earlier this year was hired as a Financial Services Manager at the Bank of Montreal.

To advance her career, in 2013 she applied to the Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting degree program at Douglas College. But having already been in the financial industry for several years, Monika found the coursework too easy, and too much like what she was already doing. So she did a little exploring and filled out a career guidance questionnaire at the Douglas College Career Centre, which suggested criminology as a possible career path.

But she had invested so much time into the financial industry, it seemed a shame to give that up entirely. She found the solution through dealing with cases of financial fraud at work, such as money laundering and counterfeiting; the idea of becoming a Financial Fraud Investigator was born and she registered in the Criminology Diploma program.

“I’ve always been interested in the psychology of behaviour. Why do people commit crimes? The reasoning is not black and white,” she says. “I also enjoy helping people, so having a job that allows me to do that – whether they are the victims or the accused – is appealing.”

Monika even took her new found love of criminology to a field school in Wales. She studied Welsh history, culture and the justice system, got an in-depth look at the unresolved 1888 Jack the Ripper serial murder investigation, and gained a new perspective on how different environments contribute to criminal behaviour.

She also volunteers with the Career Centre, sharing her experience and offering advice to other students looking to break into the business world. Monika says figuring out what you want to do in life can be a hard, frustrating process, and her biggest challenge has been learning to be patient with herself – a quality she emphasizes to her peers.

“I keep reminding myself and other students that it doesn’t matter how long it takes to mold your passions into a career. It’s okay to change your mind, change your program and explore your options,” she says. “As a young person you’re still growing, and will discover something new about yourself every day. Finding your ideal career is a journey, one that you should enjoy.”

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