Sissy Oliver

Young Alumni Spotlight: Sissy Oliver

How the Master of International Business program helped Oliver prepare for a career in uncovering financial fraud.

Sissy Oliver’s life was shaped in more ways than one growing up the daughter of a banker. Originally born in Lima, Peru, and later moving to Caracas, Venezuela and then immigrating to Weston, Florida with her parents and three siblings for her father’s career in banking, Oliver (BA ’09, MIB ’10) heard countless stories from her father about his work.

The experiences he shared inspired her to follow in his footsteps after earning her degrees from the University of Florida. In her current role, Oliver uses her more than a decade of experience in regulation, internal auditing, and consulting to lead teams as a Senior Manager within Protiviti’s Internal Audit and Financial Advisory Practice.

Specifically, Oliver’s role is to manage Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Sanctions independent audits for community, national and international banks. She specializes in high-risk areas, which includes foreign entities, foreign correspondence relationships, non-resident aliens and politically exposed persons. You might characterize her role as a bank’s detective who’s trying to uncover the financial discrepancies characters in shows like Breaking Bad or Ozark are trying to cover up.

“What excites me the most about [my role] is that we get to work with a different client all the time,” she said. “We have some projects that last for 5 weeks and others that last 8 or 9 months. Everything is dynamic, from the clients to regulations themselves. I’m constantly learning.”

While her father’s career would influence Oliver’s path, it was her mother and brother who encouraged her to consider the Master of International Business program in the Warrington College of Business. An MIB graduate himself, Oliver’s brother told her about the program, which ended up being the perfect fit for her career as well as her personal life. Oliver bonded with her now husband, Ross, after learning they both were MIB graduates, just one year apart.

“In my current role, my international business skills have been extremely useful,” she said. “I’ve been able to serve clients that are international banking agencies and branches and also have presence internationally. Additionally, my international business background has allowed me to better understand the current AML and Sanctions environment at a global scale and communicate best practices to fight global money laundering and prevent terrorist financing.”

In addition to her educational experience in the MIB program, Oliver has continued to enhance her skills through a number of professional certifications and organizations. Oliver is a Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist and Certified Global Sanctions Specialist by the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists as well as a Certified Professional in Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Money Laundering Certified Associate and Anti-Money Laundering for Correspondent Banking Certificate holder from the Financial & International Business Association.

The Financial & International Business Association is one of the main professional organizations Oliver has benefitted from, especially with her participation on the Women’s Leadership Committee. Oliver also credits the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists with helping her connect with others in her industry, many of whom have become mentors.

“Mentors have invaluably influenced my career,” she said. “In both organizations, I’ve been able to meet very experienced professionals in my field from whom I’ve been able to learn numerous skills that will be useful throughout my career.”

The importance mentors have played in Oliver’s life makes it no surprise that it’s among her recommendations for students or young alumni who are starting their careers.

“Starting a new career can feel overwhelming but having mentors who you can reach out to for advice and guidance can help ease the various pressures your career may bring,” she said.

Oliver also advises taking on assignments that are outside of your comfort zone.

“At first, they may be very challenging; however, this approach can lead you to experience multiple knowledge development opportunities and allows you to set yourself apart by having several unique perspectives,” she said.