There's no denying that BGS lifetime members are very talented people. Just earning invitation into the Society places members within a select group. Beyond their commonality as the "Best in Business" though, lifetime members are extremely diverse with a wide array of talents, backgrounds and expertise.
I recently stumbled upon something puzzling. It has to do with BGS member Jen Ngo, who was an all-star basketball player and accounting student at LaSalle University, a recipient of the Beta Gamma Sigma Excellence Award in 2000, and is now the mother of three girls under the age of 6. Ok, so that’s not the mysterious part per se. But what she did with her accounting training required a bit of sleuthing. She helped us crack the case, however…
BGS Member Profiles
Special Agent, Federal Bureau of Investivations
When a million dollars in cash earned from illegal diet pills is tucked in the basement walls of a doctor’s home, you might suspect some crooked business. When you’re one of the FBI agents who finds the money and nails the guy like Jen Ngo did, consider your job well-done.
What you might fail to recognize is that this particular agent is detecting fraud and prosecuting criminals in part thanks to her degree in accounting.
“The financial end was very helpful in that case,” explained Ngo, Special Agent with the FBI Philadelphia Division.
While busting criminals may not be part of a typical day for Beta Gamma Sigma members, this story is just business as usual for Ngo. It is just one example of how her degree in accounting from La Salle University proved valuable.
Ngo was a standout student at La Salle. She was a recipient of the Beta Gamma Sigma Excellence Award in 2000 and was awarded the La Salle Faculty Accounting Award in 2001.
Following graduation, Ngo spent a few years at PricewaterhouseCoopers, but it was only a short time before she would set her sights on the Bureau, as it is often called, to launch the career of her dreams.
“I knew where I wanted to be,” she said. “I wanted to be an FBI agent since I was 12.”
Ngo was only a seventh grader when she first thought of joining the FBI. A female FBI agent she met at a career day inspired her to pursue the job and recommended Ngo major in something that initially took her by surprise: accounting.
But by no means does Ngo’s accounting degree make her a strange breed to the FBI agent mix-up. In fact, she finds most FBI teams quite diverse.
“There are people with financial background, somebody who worked on Wall Street, a teacher, lawyers, computer science and engineering backgrounds,” she shared. “We’ve got people from all over the country, all over the world if you include the language specialists, so it makes for an interesting mix of people.”
As for her own background, Ngo believes her accounting experience offers her great advantage.
“Part of it has to do with the squad I work on,” she said. “I work all white collar investigations, primarily mortgage fraud, security fraud, and identity theft, so a good portion of my job is spent going through bank records and trying to trace money and find assets.”
The Economic Crime Squad consists of Ngo and approximately 18 other agents and staff members who work on diverse cases with many kinds of violations.
She loves it.
“It keeps you on your toes, keeps you learning,” Ngo said. “And the cases also tend to move faster, if that’s even possible for the federal government.”
But before she could get out on the streets as an agent, she had to acquire some specific training and instruction. Ngo’s special agent role with the FBI started with 17 weeks of training at Quantico, Virginia in June 2004. She described the experience as “intensive” and referenced a specific moment from the evening before her first day of formal training.
“So there are say around 50 people sitting in a classroom, and this is literally how they start out: you sit down and there were I think 8 or 9 women, all the rest were guys, so I’m a little intimidated. They say: ‘Ok. I want you guys to look around, I want you to look around this whole room, and think to yourself, your life is going to change. You have the ability, for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for the rest of your life, to take another person’s life. That’s what you’re committing to.’”
Ngo explained that the emphasis was simply to accept the responsibility of living her life in a certain way. Wherever she goes and regardless of whom she is with, she must be prepared to act on her training.
“You certainly feel like you’re held to a high standard at all hours, in all aspects of your life, “she admitted. “That’s fine to me. You want to represent the organization that you’re a part of in the right manner. You live up to what it’s all about.”
The importance of what kind of person you are, stated Ngo, is something that she was first taught in undergrad business ethics classes. It now serves her well as an agent for the FBI.
“I find that in my job, if you’re able to talk to anybody, if you’re able to go in and talk to the CEO of a company and then you’re able to go talk to a poor person out on the street, and if you just talk to them with respect, you get a lot more out of that than trying to be the tough guy,” she explained. “Swinging your power just doesn’t work. It’s better to see everybody for what they are.”
It’s maybe not an attitude you’d expect from an agent who has testified on trial to successfully prosecute three mortgage brokers and two attorneys.
But this attitude of excellence and sincerity carries throughout the entire FBI culture, according to Ngo.
“That was one of the things that was so appealing to me in the beginning was the caliber of person that the Bureau attracts,” she noted.
Ngo absolutely loves the squad she is on and said the cases she works on vary in difficulty.
“There are certain cases that are what people call a slam dunk: you have a confession or the evidence is overwhelming,” she explained. “And then there are other cases that really are not black and white, and you really gotta dig, you gotta work, you gotta get out on the street and talk to people and get the evidence you need to prosecute the case.”
Some cases are very easy and others require the creative thinking that defines the “typical” FBI agent. Ngo loves the creativity her job requires.
“You could have a case with five really, really good investigators,” she explained. “They would all go about it in a different way and probably get the same result in the end, but it’s just thinking outside of the box which is the best way to do this.”
And for someone who studied cash flows and income reports in college, this kind of creativity is, in fact, a bit outside of the box.