Meet Our Team

Ayala Maurer-Prager

Senior Consultant
Forensic Litigation Consulting - Cybersecurity

The truth is that no two days are ever the same. What makes cybersecurity consulting exciting is that fact that anything can come through the door: you can be carrying out a cybersecurity maturity assessment on a global retail company one day and be responding to a ransomware attack on a hardware manufacturer the next. What stays constant are the skills you need throughout – you always need to be level-headed, clear, personable and authoritative to ensure the best outcomes for your clients.

How did you get into cybersecurity?

My route into the field was not a traditional one by any means! I did a literature-based BA and MA, before embarking on an interdisciplinary PhD which brought together literature, history, politics, psychoanalysis, gender studies and race theory to investigate the cultural underpinnings of resilience in relation to crisis. When I started, I had plans for a career in academia – I soon realised, though, that the often-solitary and highly bureaucratic nature of the field wasn’t for me. Pivoting out of the academy seemed like an enormous challenge. However, when I made a list of the skills I’d acquired and honed over these years – critical thinking, advanced research capabilities, analysis, and communication chief amongst them – I realised that these were hugely transferable. When I saw the job posting for my role on LinkedIn specifically asking for these skills, I was thrilled – the job spoke to my background in crisis and resilience, called upon the very capabilities I’d built as an academic, and appealed to my general interest in the interaction of people and technology. Although I didn’t have a cybersecurity background, a willingness to learn and possession of some key skills got me the job – and the rest is history!

What skills does a cybersecurity professional need?

Some of the most common misconceptions about cybersecurity are contained in the image that most often represents the field on the public stage – that our industry is wholly comprised of people wearing hoodies in dark rooms, hacking away at computers. Of course, cybersecurity has its technical elements; some of our most valuable team members are our technical staff, capable of understanding the most complex network architecture and analysing challenging digital forensics. However – especially in a consultancy context – one of the most important skills for a professional in the field to have is the ability to problem solve on micro and macro levels. You need to be able to understand a problem within the context it arises and think through its dynamics and various dimensions to provide a solution. Whilst some level of technical knowledge is of course necessary – and can be acquired by anyone with enough determination – an appetite for challenge, curiosity, responsiveness, critical thinking and initiative are key. If you have these core capabilities, a career in cybersecurity may well be for you.

What do you find most challenging in the consultancy field?

What I enjoy most and what I find most challenging actually go hand-in-hand: anticipating our clients’ needs. Our team pride ourselves on our ability to be proactive – not only in identifying exactly where an issue lies and what’s causing it, but in providing and helping to implement effective solutions. Our clients often come to us in times of distress and anxiety in the aftermath of a cybersecurity incident. In these instances, we have to manage emotions as well as the practical situation at hand. Both cybersecurity and consultancy have people at their heart – navigating the dynamics of the interpersonal relationships on which our success as consultants and cybersecurity professionals relies is the most exciting and challenging part of my job.

What does a typical day look like?

The truth is that no two days are ever the same. What makes cybersecurity consulting exciting is that fact that anything can come through the door: you can be carrying out a cybersecurity maturity assessment on a global retail company one day and be responding to a ransomware attack on a hardware manufacturer the next. What stays constant are the skills you need throughout – you always need to be level-headed, clear, personable and authoritative to ensure the best outcomes for your clients.

What makes FTI a unique workplace?

FTI’s slogan is ‘Experts with Impact’ – and I believe that is what sets the company apart. Everyone who works at FTI is either an established expert in their field or committed to becoming one. In addition to allowing the firm to boast an incredible array of skillsets and tackle an enormous range of client issues, the business – at all levels – is full of intellectually curious people who aspire to be the best in their respective spaces. Coupled with the concerted and committed efforts the firm is making to increase diversity and gender parity, this makes FTI an inspiring and growth-oriented place to work.

Aisha Chaudhary

Consultant, Strategic Communications

I never expected just how many true friends I would make at FTI Consulting – this really is a creative and collaborative environment, and everyone from Consultant to Senior Managing Director level is rooting for your success!

Since joining the Strategic Communications graduate scheme in 2019 I have been exposed to a diverse range of clients and projects across a multitude of sectors ranging from financial institutions to technology companies.

The graduate scheme is a great way to gain experience across different disciplines and I was able to take part in corporate communications, financial communications and strategic workforce briefs all within ten months.

Getting first-hand exposure to clients in this time has given me the confidence to take on responsibilities and rewarding challenges, and I know I’m always supported by my colleagues.

I never expected just how many true friends I would make at FTI Consulting – this really is a creative and collaborative environment, and everyone from Consultant to Senior Managing Director level is rooting for your success!

Danny Presley

Consultant, Global Insurance Services

Everyone in the team has made me feel welcome since I started, and you feel like you are an important part of the team from the start.

I joined the Global Insurance Services team at FTI because I wanted to be a part of a newly formed and growing team in a well-established company, build relationships from the ground up and work to establish our team as a global competitor in multiple fields requiring actuarial expertise.

Since joining in 2019, I have found myself having exposure to senior members of the insurance industry, which I did not think I would have so early on in my career. I have worked with all levels of the team to deliver a wide array of projects, ranging from actuarial valuations on large portfolios of niche assets to exploring new modelling techniques used in the general insurance space.

I have benefited greatly from the wealth of knowledge of my senior colleagues in the practice who all have decades of experience in the industry. Prior to the global pandemic, team bonding in person was an important element of our team. I personally enjoyed the hard-earned Friday pint (or two) in the pub at the end of the week! Everyone in the team has made me feel welcome since I started, and you feel like you are an important part of the team from the start.

Since the start of the global pandemic, FTI has been incredibly supportive in ensuring that the wellbeing of staff members is kept to the highest standard possible during these difficult times. I am proud to call myself an employee of the GIS team at FTI.

Aisha Brackett

Senior Consultant, Technology

With FTI being a global company in itself, having the opportunity to work closely with different segments both in London and around the world is incredibly rewarding, and has become embedded within our work especially during the pandemic.

After joining the Digital Forensics and Investigations team at FTI as a graduate, I was able to start my career in a challenging and fast-paced environment from the beginning.

My role allows me to be responsible for performing a multitude of forensic tasks and developing my skills, as well as being exposed to the many global companies FTI works with and advises.

With FTI being a global company in itself, having the opportunity to work closely with different segments both in London and around the world is incredibly rewarding, and has become embedded within our work especially during the pandemic.

Being a part of a team that we are focused on adapting a more remote approach to Digital Forensics was both challenging yet exciting, and our capabilities as a forensic team have developed enormously as a result. These new emerging technologies and process allow me to further develop my skillset on a continuous basis.

Isabel Hardaway

Associate, Corporate Finance Restructuring

The large amount of collaboration within the team and different levels of management has enabled me to work with a wide variety of people. This has been excellent exposure and provides the chance to work with and learn from highly experienced and knowledgeable individuals.

Since joining FTI Consulting, I have been given a diverse range of opportunities. The large amount of collaboration within the team and different levels of management has enabled me to work with a wide variety of people.

The large amount of collaboration within the team and different levels of management has enabled me to work with a wide variety of people. This has been excellent exposure and provides the chance to work with and learn from highly experienced and knowledgeable individuals.

Being placed on various projects keeps the work interesting and varied, for instance, working on a mining project one moment and a media rights distribution project the next shows the difference between the work you can expect.

Additionally, the mixture of responsibilities given has really helped grow my confidence and aided my general development. Along with this, studying towards the ACCA provides me with a strong foundation to build my knowledge on.

There are multiple social events both within our team and the wider FTI Consulting teams, this made settling in much easier whilst also providing the opportunity to grow my network and learn about the different departments in FTI Consulting.

Andrew Chin

Senior Consultant
MSc Finance at Imperial College London; BSc Economics at Warwick
Joined 5 years ago

My managers constantly encourage me to think critically about new conceptual problems, rather than continually reapplying past analysis. Each problem we tackle is different and requires us to develop new frameworks, make judgements on what evidence is needed, and structure convincing arguments. As I’ve gained more experience, I have been able to take more responsibility for the direction of the project and how we are going to approach the problem. For example, on a recent project with a European transport regulator, I decided on the structure and wrote the majority of the final report.

I’ve been working in EFC at FTI Consulting for five years, and what I’ve most appreciated is the ability to work across a wide range of topics and industries.

My experience has ranged from valuing music rights for songs played in live music venues in East Asia to evaluating the impact of electricity interconnector investment options in Australia. When I first joined EFC, I started by working predominately on disputes, while more recently I have done more economic regulatory projects. I have found that generally EFC tries to accommodate what type of work you would like to do.

In those years, as well as working across different industries, I’ve built up a number of skills: on some projects I’ve built complex financial models, while on others I’ve focused on writing reports and responding to arguments in legal disputes. In some I’ve had to present to large groups of stakeholders or explain complex issues directly to the client. The expectation at FTI Consulting is that you’ll progress every year, and I feel that I’m pushed to take on more responsibility all the time.

My managers constantly encourage me to think critically about new conceptual problems, rather than continually reapplying past analysis. Each problem we tackle is different and requires us to develop new frameworks, make judgements on what evidence is needed, and structure convincing arguments. As I’ve gained more experience, I have been able to take more responsibility for the direction of the project and how we are going to approach the problem. For example, on a recent project with a European transport regulator, I decided on the structure and wrote the majority of the final report.

Project: Advising a bidder for a European rural broadband roll out plan

Background to the project

In 2010, the European Commission set out ambitious targets for universal coverage of high-speed broadband. In response to this, a large European country set up a Rural Broadband Rollout Plan to support the deployment of fibre broadband infrastructure to homes not covered by commercial deployments, with the objective of finding a private sector operator to design, build and operate the network. The Member State ran a competitive tender to find a partner to deliver this network.

EFC advised one of the bidding parties, offering support in a range of areas, including forecasting commercial revenues for the project, advising on the design of the contractual framework, supporting the bidder in negotiations with the state and providing the commercial due diligence report used to engage private investors in the project.

We also worked closely with FTI Consulting’s Corporate Finance practice who used their industry expertise to help develop key assumptions used in the bidder’s financial model.

My role

I was responsible for developing the analysis that forecast the revenues the bidder would be expected to earn over the period of the contract. This model used demand projections, forecasts of expected population growth, and predicted regulatory prices to estimate the revenues from multiple broadband products the bidder planned to offer consumers over several decades. I constructed the model and, as the project progressed, I added multiple scenarios and dashboards to present the results to the client.

I was relied on by the rest of the team to explain the mechanics and results of the model I had built to key members of the client team. I also travelled to Europe on a number of occasions with the team to present our findings (including the forecasts I had produced) to the bidder and to the government of the Member State.

Aleks Ziolkowska

Senior Consultant
BSc Management with Finance at Warwick
Joined 4 years ago

What sets EFC apart the most in my view is the culture. Since day one everyone has been really friendly and I always felt I could ask for help when I needed it. I never felt any competition between my peers. On the contrary, we often ask each other for advice. During my time here, I have developed some true friendships and I find the feeling of being a part of the team very motivating.

I joined EFC four years ago through the graduate programme. As a student, I was looking for a career in consulting with a focus on analytical skills, and EFC proved to be a great fit.

I have been interested in finance since university. Therefore, I work mainly on projects involving valuation of assets such as companies, trademarks and patents in legal disputes. That being said, the projects I have worked on have been very diverse and on each one, I learned about a new industry or explored different approaches to valuing a business.

What sets EFC apart the most in my view is the culture. Since day one everyone has been really friendly and I always felt I could ask for help when I needed it. I never felt any competition between my peers. On the contrary, we often ask each other for advice. During my time here, I have developed some true friendships and I find the feeling of being a part of the team very motivating.

I really get the sense that my coach and my managers care about my development; whenever I have wanted to work on a particular project, with particular people, or develop a specific skill, they have made a real effort to accommodate that. For example, I wanted to work internationally and I’ve been given the opportunity to join our rapidly expanding Dubai team on a secondment. My colleagues from London are often seconded to other offices in our international network, including Hong Kong, Singapore, Paris, Cape Town, Washington, DC and Toronto, and the list continues to grow.

Because of the quick pace at which we develop our skills, EFC offers great opportunities for fast career progression if you perform well. Most people are initially promoted every year and high performers are can progress even quicker.

Project: Assessing losses of a solar plant following regulatory changes.

Background

In the early 2000s the European Union and many individual European governments realised the need to drive rapid development in the renewable energy industry to address the challenges of climate change. Many renewable power schemes, such as large-scale solar, need big upfront investments, but typically the market price of electricity has been too low to justify this investment. To solve this, many countries offered favourable subsidies which included a guaranteed fixed price the government would pay for any electricity produced by the plant. This price was significantly higher than the market price paid for conventional energy.

In some countries, the subsidies were significantly more popular than the governments expected, and green energy industries developed swiftly. As a result of this expansion and some other factors, the price of solar panels decreased dramatically and it became apparent that governmental support may not be needed. Facing the large, unexpected cost, which might have to be passed on to energy customers, some governments cancelled or amended their support schemes. They did this retroactively, meaning that investors who had already incurred high initial costs expecting to be able to use the support schemes suffered losses.

Our client was one of the affected investors. Soon after the solar plant was completed, the government started reducing the previously guaranteed price at which they would buy its electricity and imposing other additional costs. Our role was to estimate the impact of these regulatory changes on the value of the business to assist them in seeking compensation from the government.

My role

As a Senior Consultant you are the bridge between the high-level conceptual thinking and client management done by more senior managers and the fine detail of the work being performed by Consultants on project. This requires combing the ability to see the big picture along with a strong attention to detail.

I have been involved in the project from the start up to the final stage of the case, a court hearing where an FTI expert gave evidence. Initially, it was crucial for us to understand the solar energy industry and the business of our client. I directed the team to research the renewable energy sector, helped draft initial information requests to obtain the data we needed, and helped develop the approach the team would use to analyse the data we received.

I was then responsible for building a large model which valued the business with and without governmental support to calculate the impact of the regulatory changes on its value. This model was used in all phases of the project and it was my responsibility to update it when new facts came to light.

In the later stages of the project, as I gained more experience, I was involved in writing sections of reports submitted to the Tribunal explaining our analysis and our conclusions. I also helped the FTI expert prepare to give evidence in court and got to attend proceedings to assist the legal team with any issues that came up during the hearing.

I really enjoyed working on this project, not only because I am interested in renewable energy, but also because I got to work with a fantastic team that taught me a lot!

Nicola Barton

Consultant
MEng Chemical Engineering at Bath
Joined (full time) 1 year ago

Coming from a STEM background, I applied to EFC for my one-year industry placement because I was interested in finding a job that allowed me to apply the critical thinking and quantitative skills I’d developed throughout my degree to a different context. At the end of my placement, FTI offered me a full-time job and so I came back to EFC as a graduate after completing the final year of my degree.

I was attracted to EFC compared to other types of consulting because of the analytical nature of its work and the opportunity to think deeply and carefully about the correct approach to tackle complex problems.

I did not study finance or economics but EFC has been supportive in helping me learn and develop the necessary knowledge by providing ongoing training and, since I’ve been back, sponsoring me through the ACA qualification.

During my two years within EFC I have worked on projects across a wide range of industries, from clean energy to commodities and agriculture. Each project has presented new challenges as there is never a one-size-fits-all approach, so I have been able to build a variety of skills. For example, on some projects I have built large and detailed financial models which were used to value companies, while on others I have learned how to review licencing agreements between the largest players in the mobile phone industry to work out what handset manufactures should pay to use the technology behind 4G and 5G.

One thing I particularly like about EFC is that the project teams are relatively small, generally only three to six people, and each project I have worked on has been with a different group of people. This has meant that I have worked closely with people at a range of levels and had the opportunity to learn new ways of working from each team.

Project: Assessing losses in a dispute relating to wind turbine components. 

Background

Our client was a wind farm operator who said that they had been provided with faulty turbines by their supplier. That meant they hadn’t been able to generate as much electricity as they had expected based on the manufacturers specifications when they purchased the turbines. As a result, they were claiming compensation for not being able to generate and sell as much electricity.

We worked alongside a team of FTI’s clean energy experts and external wind engineers who provided us with information about how well the turbines actually worked in comparison to what would be expected. To make matters more complicated, one of the turbines burned down while we were working on the project! This meant that the engineers were unable to carry out a physical examination of the turbine to determine how it was actually operating, therefore increasing the uncertainty of our valuation and requiring us to think about appropriate assumptions.

To determine our client’s losses, we forecast how much money the wind farm would actually make over the next 20 years, based on the actual performance of the turbines. We then compared this to a forecast assuming that the turbines had worked as expected. We then used the discounted cash flow approach, which accounts for the riskiness of those future payments and the time value of money, to convert this into a lump sum that our client was owed by the supplier to cover the future losses.

My role

When I began working on the project, there were only three team members. This meant that I was able to take responsibility for analysing the data we were provided and building our valuation model in Excel, in line with the conceptual approach determined by the more senior team members and industry experts.

We had already received a report from the experts employed by the turbine manufacturer which described what they thought the damages should be. My first task was to review and critically evaluate the analysis conducted by the opposing experts to determine whether we agreed with their approach and their assumptions, and whether they had made any errors.

Next, I worked on building our own financial model and calculating an appropriate discount rate, using assumptions which we determined were appropriate after coordinating with the clean energy experts. As a cross-check to our model, we also considered the performance of similar companies in the industry. To do this I used Capital IQ (a provider of financial data) to identify similar companies in the wind industry. I then analysed their performance to check that our forecasts were reasonable.

Charlie Colthorpe

Consultant
BA Modern Languages (German and Italian) at Oxford.
Joined 2 years ago

I was attracted to EFC by the opportunity to learn about business and finance through diverse and challenging projects that would build my analytical skills. Since joining, I have found in-house training, studying for a professional qualification (I am currently studying towards the ICAEW Chartered Accountant (ACA) Qualification) and on-the-job learning have helped in building my skills and knowledge. Further, supportive and patient colleagues are interested in my development and take the time to explain new concepts. As a result, I have felt able to positively contribute from day one. I have also found that over time, I have grown in confidence to make better judgements and put forward more convincing arguments.

Even as a new joiner, the work is broad and involves research, quantitative modelling, report writing and more. What I have enjoyed most is the chance to work on varied projects in different industries, initially in the Economic Regulation team, and more recently focusing on economic and financial issues in legal disputes. For example, some of my projects have involved assessing the financial impact caused by a copyright infringement in the e-commerce industry; defective components in the automotive industry; a shareholder disagreement in the aviation industry; and the breaking of a contract in the pharmaceutical services sector. Working on high-profile, high-stakes disputes is engaging. Knowing that our work will be scrutinised and challenged by opposing experts means we have to be rigorous and precise in our approach.

Outside of work, I have enjoyed the regular social events on offer as well as volunteering opportunities. The firm regularly partners with charities and offers the chance to donate time, money or expertise to support various causes. For example, FTI’s award winning ‘Experts in School’s’ program gives us a chance to use our skills to improve financial literacy and provide careers advice to children at local schools, which I find really rewarding.

Project: Assessing losses caused by fraud of a vineyard and wine production company. 

Background

The owners of a vineyard and wine production company were forced to sell their business because they were victims of fraud. FTI was engaged to assess the loss of value that this forced sale caused the owners, compared to if they had been able to keep the business. To do this we had to consider how the company would have performed if the fraud had never occurred. We projected the financial performance of the company and then used different business valuation techniques such as discounted cash flow (DCF) analysis and a consideration of similar companies in the industry to assess the value of the company that was sold.

The challenge of this project lay in dealing with uncertainty over how the company would perform in the future, particularly when the performance of the company after it was sold was very poor compared to the very optimistic business plan prepared by the original owners. We had to consider whether in their hands the business might have avoided this subsequent poor performance. It was interesting that the company was smaller than as our typical clients, which meant that we were working with much more limited information. We had to compare the company we were valuing to the value of larger, public companies and think about what adjustments might be necessary for our valuation.

My role

My role involved researching the company and building an understanding of what was going on in the industry. I assisted with building our financial models in Excel, in particular researching and supporting some of the key assumptions that would underpin our projections. To do this, I used public sources, industry reports and data from financial databases like Capital IQ. I then used these inputs to forecast the profits and cashflows of the company into the future.

The project challenged me to think critically about the business we were valuing and develop convincing and defensible assumptions for the different drivers of business value. I particularly enjoyed learning about how wine businesses work and thinking about how that would affect our financial modelling and valuation. It was rewarding applying knowledge from the ACA qualification to understand the company accounts and the dynamics of the wider market to assess, for example, how demand for wine would change over time.

Anna Shukla

Consultant
BSc Biochemistry and MRes in Cancer Biology at Imperial College London.
Joined 2 years ago

Having studied biochemistry, I was initially quite hesitant to apply to a role that focused so heavily on finance and economics because I had no exposure to these subjects at university. However, by talking to previous graduates at FTI I learned that the work in EFC fit in well with many of the skills I gained in my degree, such as critical think ing and independent investigation. I also learned that EFC would sponsor me through the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) qualification. As well as this formal training there is also a strong emphasis on learning on the job, so I have been able to contribu te to real projects from my first week at FTI.

Even though I’ve only been at FTI for two years, I’ve been able to work on projects across a variety of areas, including telecommunications, aviation, pharmaceuticals, energy and even family law. In the first year, you rotate through at least two EFC teams, which also allowed me to experience the different types of projects we get to work on, from valuing assets in divorce cases to assessing the financial impact of fraud in high-profile court cases that make the news.

Outside of work, there are regular social events planned to allow colleagues to get to know each other better, both within departments and across departments at FTI. Before COVID these included our ‘Away Day’ trip overseas each year, as well as Christmas parties, summer socials and monthly drinks. This social atmosphere continued during the pandemic, albeit in other forms. I’ve also had the opportunity to play a personal role in the development of the department through involvement with recruitment and helping to organise a mentorship programme for sixth form students, which has been really worthwhile.

Project: Analysis relating to the acquisition of a company in the energy sector. 

Background

In 2020, a group of investors engaged FTI to assist in the due diligence process for the purchase of a company in the energy sector. This involved verifying the financial health of the company and building forecasts to assess its future performance. 

To do this, we had to make assumptions about future regulatory policy which would determine how much the company would be allowed to earn. The regulatory economists at FTI calculated specific regulatory model inputs, forecasted revenue and expenditure, and worked to analyse the potential impact of developments in the industry. We did this by looking at the historical actions taken by the regulator in the electricity distribution sector, as well as what other regulators had done in other sectors such as gas and water.

The energy market is currently undergoing significant changes and its future is highly uncertain due to the increasing use of renewable energy generation, and rapidly approaching Net Zero emissions targets. Therefore, we had to consider a wide range of scenarios, allowing the investors to assess the future performance of the company across different eventualities, and determine the size of their offer.

My role

The project was split into two phases. During the first phase we assisted the investors to make an initial bid, after which the seller shortlisted potential buyers and gave them access to more detailed information. We then used this to refine our analysis and help to determine the final bid. Throughout we had to work with a variety of industry and technical experts to help assess all parts of the company’s business model.

My main task was to evaluate how much income the company could expect to earn under its regulatory incentive framework. Under this framework, the company receives rewards or penalties based on its performance against targets set by the regulator for things like reliability, customer service and sustainability. These rewards are a key source of income for regulated companies. I built a model to value this future income stream, relying on my analysis of the company’s prior performance against its benchmarks, and the performance of similar companies in the industry.

I also worked on forecasting the company’s future costs. For this we relied on assumptions from technical advisors as to potential efficiency sayings and necessary capital expenditure. I was responsible for integrating these external inputs into our model. Finally, I was also responsible for writing regular project updates to the client and the other advisors.

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