Before she returned to UT to complete her master’s degree, Hubbard worked as a forensic accountant at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC). Among her accomplishments was finding missing assets—including an aircraft in the course of investigating a multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme.
Hubbard worked on a team that used business analytics to uncover hidden fraudulent transactions. The investigation involved more than 200 companies and a decade worth of accounting records, emails, banks transactions, and other sources of data.
Ken Gilbert, head of the Department of Statistics, Operations, and Management Science at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, understands why Haley excelled at forensic accounting. “Haley has a talent for seeing the big picture and finding the connections that most of us would miss. She also is persistent— once she tackles a problem she will not rest until she has it resolved. She doesn’t engage in idle speculation but follows the data to wherever it leads and states her conclusions in an unvarnished fashion.”
In her role at PwC, Hubbard gained an appreciation for business analytics. She worked hand-in-hand with business analytics professionals to apply tools that could be used to spot trends or anomalies in data, and to match financial transactions from different sources to find indicators of money laundering, insider trading, illegal transactions, and other types of fraud.
But the one insight that made her decide to earn a master’s degree in business analytics was this. “The most valuable person in an organization is the person who both understands the complexities of financial issues and business analytics tools,” she says. She decided to become that person.
Since returning to UT, Hubbard has learned that the applications she saw at PwC were only the tip of the iceberg. “I have discovered so many more analytical methods that I never knew existed. They would have been very useful to me in my former job,” Hubbard explains.
Hubbard will complete her degree at UT in December 2014 with a rare combination of skills. She will know the important questions to address when a business is faced with a challenge, and she will have the analytical skills needed to answer those questions.