Q & A with Gordon MacDonald

Gordon MacDonald of Canada recently became a CFE after attending the Nashville CFE Exam Review Course. In his free time, Gordon enjoys riding his Harley Davidson Street Glide and spending time with his wife, but he set his leisure activities aside to accomplish his goal of obtaining the CFE credential. The knowledge Gordon received from attending the CFE Exam Review Course and using the study materials has helped him sharpen his interviewing and investigative skills, and becoming a CFE has made a significant difference in his everyday work as a fraud specialist.

Coach: When did you receive your CFE credential?
I became certified in November 2014.
Coach: You attended the CFE Exam Review Course in Nashville and following the course you sat for the CFE Exam on-site.  Please describe your experience of participating in the 4-day course and then sitting for the exam immediately after.
As someone who starts out strong with self-study, I find that I can quickly and easily procrastinate. Taking the CFE Exam Review Course with the option to take the exam corresponding with that day’s review session was the way to go for me. The classroom sessions really prepared me for the exam, and the option to take a written exam at the end of each day was one I took advantage of. The immediate feedback upon completion was of great benefit to me and allowed me to focus on the next day’s session.  Having the option to retake a section later in the week that you may have struggled with is a great feature of the classroom session and took away some of the stress, but even with that, it’s still not a cakewalk. When they run the exam through the machine to grade it, there’s still that feeling of anxiety and anticipation. The days are long and you are mentally drained, but the support and encouragement throughout the four days definitely keeps you going. The ACFE staff and instructors were outstanding (as always). They made the experience a great one.
Coach: What did you like most about the CFE Exam Review Course?
For me, it has to be the actual “classroom” review. The instructors, all accomplished CFEs themselves, cycled through the segments and brought their own experiences and personal flavor to the learning. The course materials and books prepared by the ACFE are always strong, and with that level of facilitation, the learning and retention are only increased. Everyone (from ACFE staff to participants from all over the world) was very approachable and supportive. I enjoyed the whole experience, and had it not been for this course, I really don’t feel that I would have done as well as I did.
Coach: In what ways do you feel that your new CFE credential will be beneficial to you in your current profession?
What way is it not? The training and ongoing support, networking, study materials, courses, and reviews help get you sharp and keep you sharp. The international recognition of the credential itself adds instant clout to the work we do because of the professionalism, ethics, and code of conduct to which we adhere. I have personally benefited from the courses I have taken to date and all of them have made a difference in my day-to-day work. The last quarterly review at work opened some eyes to how beneficial the training has been due to results that haven’t been seen before. Interviewing and investigative skills have definitely made a difference for me. If anyone reading this hasn’t taken an interviewing course through the ACFE yet, make sure it’s your next one!
Coach: How did you prepare yourself to sit for the exam on-site? Did you spend any additional time studying after class each day?
I took full advantage of the electronic practice materials. The sections are all broken out to their specific area of focus, and you can choose exactly what and how to study as your own time permits. For me, I reviewed each section and chose to filter out the questions I got right and focus on the ones I wasn’t asked or had gotten wrong during my review. This made all the difference for me. If nothing else, go through those practice sessions. They’re a huge support for the classroom review and a big part of my success in passing the exams.
Coach: Would you recommend this course to your colleagues?
Absolutely. I already have.
Coach: How did you become passionate about fighting fraud?
MacDonald: I have always been interested in puzzles, problem solving, and riddles. I enjoy putting together the pieces and solving the problem. Fraud is a great area for folks who enjoy problem solving, with lots of fraudsters coming up with lots of creative ways to work their craft. In various roles I have had throughout my banking career, we always touched on fraud prevention, but not as a primary focus when sales were what “got results.” A career change put me in a role where I could leverage my banking background, but solely focus on fraud investigations and prevention. I am now directly involved with investigation, looking for “bad guys” and working toward actual prevention… and I love it. 
Coach: Now that we know what you do professionally, what do you like to do for fun and what do you find enjoyable about it?
The only thing that can put a bigger smile on my face than “busting bad guys” is riding my 2007 Harley Davidson Street Glide Custom, especially when my wife is along for the ride. It's quality time like no other. From detailing to riding and even turning some wrenches, it’s all part of the experience.  Those that ride know what I am talking about. I’m smiling now just thinking about it, even though she’s away for the winter. Where I am from, there’s really only two seasons: Harley season and hockey season.
Coach: Do you have any study tips or suggestions for aspiring CFEs?
Take full advantage of the support materials, study materials, and whatever else is offered to help you. The practice materials are current and developed to help prepare you for the exam. For those that are disciplined enough to study on their own and through correspondence, everything is available to help. From the software itself to live chat and incredible exam coaches like Angela Archie, it’s all there for you. For those that prefer classroom instruction, there are just as many resources, in addition to the real life examples shared by the instructors to help prepare you. The choice is yours. I had taken a few courses along the way before my exam and I found that helped as well. I was also fortunate enough to attend the 2014 ACFE Global Fraud Conference while preparing for my exam. What an inspiring and meticulously organized event. Once you have taken your interviewing course, make sure that’s on your agenda. In fact, I took mine at the post conference. An unforgettable and inspiring event, for sure. 

Coach: Thank you for your time and congratulations on your new CFE credential.