In the e-discovery field, there is a niche area that often goes overlooked despite the innovation taking place within it: data forensics. In e-discovery, data forensic experts are tasked with identifying, coding, and capturing relevant data. Without the experts and systems in place to accurately identify the data that matters, critical information to a case may be lost.
Despite its important role, data forensics receives little attention. But for those interested in pursuing this field, it presents an exciting opportunity. By 2025, the data forensics market is projected to be worth $6.48 billion.
Stellar Women host Blair Cohen and former Stellar Women host Mary Rechtoris had the privilege of learning more from a rising star in this field: Aisha Brackett, a senior consultant within FTI Consulting’s UK technology segment. Aisha gets personal about imposter syndrome and uses her own journey to offer words of wisdom for other young women entering data forensics.
Blair Cohen: What first drew you to the field of data forensics?
Aisha Brackett: I was drawn to data forensics because of its complexity. The first time I saw a fully equipped forensics suite, I was very taken back (in a good way!). I saw tables filled with monitors, desktop towers and forensic equipment. To me, it looked like endless possibility. I knew that this was an industry I would find interesting and challenging.
I have always loved a challenge, and there is no shortage of problems to solve within forensics. It is satisfying to finish a project that has taken a lot of time, research, and skill, and the results feel well-earned. Digital forensics is a field that requires continued research and development to keep up; the industry gets tougher every day as new technologies emerge and data protection develops, but there is also so much to discover through these changes.
On a more practical level, I took an interest in the field at university during one of my modules, and then during my master’s studies. I quickly learned how few women were involved in this industry, and figured that there was no good reason why I couldn’t be a part of changing the narrative. I always wanted to contribute in some way and was ready to exercise my own power to make a difference.
Mary Rechtoris: Let’s dig into the part about changing the narrative. How are you working to elevate female talent?
AB: Digital forensics is certainly more representative of women now than when I was at university, but it’s still a male-dominated profession. Fortunately, I’ve worked with a great many men and women over the years who’ve really made this field feel like home, and I know that can be the case for more women. This is why I am so passionate about continuing to contribute and support our team’s recruitment practices to be more inclusive.
I’ll be honest—addressing the lack of women within this industry was intimidating. Realising that the dearth of women in forensics was something I would help to end was the incentive I needed to begin developing the role I wanted for myself, and for others. I was also helped by a strong female lecturer who made sure to tell me that I could do what I was afraid to, and that I was the only obstacle standing in my way. I’m very thankful for her guidance and that I was able to take a leap of faith and pursue this career. Now, I’m trying to use my position as a platform to contribute to further change and help other talented people find and fulfil their professional calling.
BC: That’s very powerful to use your platform to help others. We love that. What’s an obstacle that you’ve faced in your career as a female professional, and what advice do you have for young women considering opportunities in this industry?
AB: One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced in my career is a bad spell of impostor syndrome. Impostor syndrome is like a quicksand of self-doubt. It’s very easy to lose yourself. Unfortunately, it also isn’t a one-and-done deal. It’s not something to be “cured” and left behind for good. It often reoccurs, and sometimes when this happens, it takes a lot of personal work and reflection to pull out of it. But I have had great support from many of my colleagues at FTI Consulting who have helped me realize and trust in my own strengths. A core “go to” team of colleagues is the first step to overcoming impostor syndrome—and indeed to overcoming anything difficult in the workplace. I like to think we lean on each other.
To women contemplating entering this field, don’t be put off by what you think the field might look like before you enter. Don’t let anybody—including yourself—tell you that you’re not fit for it. If you’re interested in data forensics, chase that interest down and make sure you’re the one to decide whether it’s right for you.
When you get to the point of interviewing for positions, use those interviews as a forum to really showcase yourself. This includes demonstrating your specialties, what you have done, your attempts and your setbacks, and how you overcame them. And remember, even if you don’t hit all the criteria for the job description, apply anyway! Don’t let impostor syndrome hold you back from trying.