Mariah Gause: Bringing Solutions

Mariah Gause: Bringing Solutions

ACAMS Today sat down with Mariah Gause, ACAMS’ chief operating officer (COO), responsible for steering the organization’s strategic direction and overseeing key initiatives that will shape ACAMS’ long-term trajectory and impact across the anti-financial crime (AFC) community. Gause joined ACAMS in November 2020 as vice president of finance and global operations and was promoted to COO and ACAMS executive board member in 2022. She also served as interim CEO for 6 months in 2023.

An accomplished leader with more than 20 years of finance and business transformation experience, Gause has consistently driven operational excellence and orchestrated large-scale transformative initiatives at renowned Fortune 500 companies, including General Electric (GE) and Experian. Her expertise is deeply rooted in creating and enabling financial strategies that fuel global business growth, maximize financial outcomes, as well as optimize financial management, processes, governance and controls.

Our mission to combat financial crime is incredibly important and knowing that our work contributes to a safer and more secure world is deeply rewarding

Prior to joining ACAMS, Gause worked for Health Care Service Corporation, supporting multiple large-scale business transformations, General Electric and Experian. She earned her Bachelor of Science in finance from Clemson University and her Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.

ACAMS Today (AT): This year’s theme for the International Women’s Day campaign is #InspireInclusion. As a leader, how do you believe this theme can be exemplified in the workplace?

Mariah Gause (MG): Inclusion and belonging go hand in hand in creating a workplace culture where every individual feels valued and connected. As a leader, I am committed to not only promoting diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives within our organization but also actively fostering a sense of belonging and community. This involves creating opportunities for open dialogue, actively listening to diverse voices and implementing policies and practices that ensure equal access and representation for all employees. Additionally, it’s about creating spaces where individuals feel seen, heard and valued for their unique perspectives and contributions, ultimately driving connections and building a strong sense of community within our organization. I have had the privilege of leading several of our Women in Anti-money Laundering (AML) sessions at our flagship assemblies in Hollywood and Las Vegas and have come away truly inspired by the sheer energy and dynamism in the room. Our industry needs diverse perspectives and a cross-cultural and gender-balanced AFC team is one that comes prepared with a wealth of ideas and experiences.

AT: What do you find most fulfilling about your current role at ACAMS?

MG: What I find most fulfilling about my role at ACAMS is the opportunity to make a meaningful impact on a global scale.

Prior to joining ACAMS, I was unaware of the breadth and impact of the work that we do. I knew we are a leader in AML, and I knew we have a robust network of chapters and members globally, but I never knew the sheer power of our global community until I joined. It didn’t take me long to learn that ACAMS is a global community that empowers individuals, organizations and governments to stop a wide array of financial crimes and mitigate risk through deep expertise and constant professional development.

Our mission to combat financial crime is incredibly important and knowing that our work contributes to a safer and more secure world is deeply rewarding. Additionally, I am grateful for the chance to collaborate with talented colleagues who share a commitment to purpose, integrity and excellence.

AT: Reflecting on your time with ACAMS, what stands out to you as your most rewarding achievement?

MG: One of my most rewarding achievements at ACAMS was stabilizing our operations after joining in response to a very challenged technology deployment. As we are a global organization with a footprint across more than 180 countries and jurisdictions, being able to serve our customers and members in a strategic and cohesive manner is key. I was able to make significant progress within a short period which resulted in a big shift during a difficult transition.

AT: For women aspiring to leadership roles, what would you say is the cornerstone of your success?

MG: The cornerstone of my success as a woman in leadership has been the willingness to embrace curiosity and self-belief. It’s essential to have confidence in your abilities and to advocate for yourself, even in spaces where you may be underrepresented. By staying curious, continuously learning and amplifying diverse perspectives, women can overcome barriers and thrive in leadership roles. It is also equally important to not take your foot off the gas pedal too early in your career while you are deciding your ultimate path or destination!

AT: Do you have any advice or a special message you’d like to share with other women in the AFC industry?

MG: My advice to other women in the AFC industry is to lean in, reach out and never be afraid to take on new challenges. By actively seeking opportunities for growth, expanding your network and advocating for yourself, you can position yourself for success in this dynamic field. Remember that every experience, whether it’s a triumph or a setback, is an opportunity to learn and grow.

AT: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

MG: In my spare time, I prioritize spending quality time with my family. Whether we’re exploring the outdoors, attending sporting events or simply enjoying each other’s company at home, these moments are precious to me. In addition, I value opportunities for self-care and personal growth, whether it’s through reading, exercise or pursuing creative hobbies.

Interviewed by ACAMS Today editorial, ACAMS,

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