60 second interview with Nicola Gott, MD, Oak Group
A dip into the working life of Nicola Gott, Managing Director at the Oak Group.
10 January 2022
Nicholas Connon, CEO, Quintel Intelligence
I’m the CEO of Quintel Intelligence, a London-based intelligence company. Our clients look to us to carry out investigations and provide analysis in a number of fields, including litigation, due diligence, crisis management, country-specific threat analysis and, most recently, crypto-currency fraud. We work closely with lawyers, barristers, litigation funders, multinationals and private family offices in many parts of the world. All our work has to be to a standard that would stand up in court if necessary, which means attention to detail and accuracy is vital.
Routine in this role can be elusive! I like to exercise before the house wakes up to get my thoughts together for the day. My days typically consist of client meetings to set investigative and legal strategies. In the past, I used to do a reasonable amount of international travel to meet clients or liaise with interested parties; hopefully those days will return – useful as Zoom and Teams are, there is no substitute for face-to face interaction.
Obviously much of our work is highly confidential and/or protected by legal privilege. However, we had one recent instruction which asked us to provide supply chain assurance for a client with a particular focus on Environmental, Social and Governance issues. The client was seeking to obtain independent evidence that its suppliers were compliant with their ESG commitments rather than simply stating as such to attract investment. For us, this was a ‘first’ and I believe marks an interesting and welcome change in attitude from investors.
It’s difficult to rank the very wide range issues we are asked to deal with. However, there’s been a recent and significant increase in reports of fraud in relation to Crypto Currency; this presents firms like ours with equally significant challenges as clients seek to recover stolen and hacked assets using the UK legal system - which is at the forefront in this area. Our job in this and all our instructions is to help the client regain control of the situation. In the case of crypto fraud, this means identifying where the digital assets have gone and notifying the custodians of the stolen assets to ensure they are preserved for recovery. Conventional wisdom is that stolen digital assets are impossible to trace: people are beginning to realise that there are protections available to them if – if - they move quickly.
We were instructed to enforce a final judgment debt on an individual who had evaded all previous attempts to recover the amount owed. We provided investigative support to discover the debtor’s assets and supported counsel in establishing jurisdiction in the UK. The legal team were then successful in securing disclosure and freezing orders which forced the defendant to engage in settlement discussions, which ultimately resulted in the debt being settled.
The ability to make decisions without knowing all the relevant variables; humility and humour. Leaders can face paralysis in decision making by waiting for everything to align perfectly. Humility allows leaders to understand a wider perspective even if it is counter to their instinctive position. Humour is an excellent antidote to panic and frustration when the going gets tough.
Dr Mechai Viravaidya comes to mind. Dr Viravaidya realised that his home country of Thailand was experiencing alarming population growth, mainly because of social convention and little or no sex education. With a lack of doctors in the country at the time he trained nurses and midwives and set about spreading the message on sexual health using humour as his principal tool. Slowly and over time that message got through and became more established. Unknown to him at the time his work had prepared Thailand for its biggest health challenge for two decades when the AIDS epidemic arrived. Thailand became one of the first countries in the world to achieve a decline in HIV infections with new cases of HIV decreasing by up to 90 percent from 1991 to 2003. Dr Viravaidya’s legacy is immeasurable and he achieved this with huge amounts of humility and humour.
I last travelled to Denmark on business which is always a pleasure. The Danes have excellent balance in their approach to life in general and to business in particular.
Something with a slightly slower pace. Perhaps a fiction writer.
I like to walk the dog before relaxing by the fire with a glass of wine.
Own whatever problem you encounter. By taking responsibility to solve the problem you will find enjoyment in areas you never thought possible and will open opportunities for yourself where others deride how ‘lucky’ you are.