Posted by Brian Monroe -
For RV, a top countercrime system architect at software giant Oracle, the keys to success include turning disagreement to dialogue, staying informed to transform, letting disruption lead to innovation
- Rajaram Vadapandeshwara has been at the vanguard of designing software to empower banks to better fight financial crime over the past two decades, tasked with adapting and overcoming criminal groups using ever more exotic schemes and sophisticated technologies to evade detection.
- Instead of sitting pat, he chose to prodigiously patent – currently a holder of 15 patents and counting, nine in the United States. RV has broken new ground in some of the most complex areas compliance: harnessing big data, digesting open source info, alert accuracy and artificial intelligence to amplify investigative outcomes.
- Those successes – and an insatiable desire to listen, learn and never get left behind – have propelled him to his current role as Vice President of Software Development, Financial Services Analytics Platform and Machine Learning Stack at Oracle Corp., the world’s third largest software company with a market cap of more than $213 billion.
By Brian Monroe
Dec. 15, 2022
For Rajaram Vadapandeshwara, having to design software to empower banks to better fight financial crime over the past two decades, with criminal groups using more exotic schemes and sophisticated technologies to evade detection, he knew he couldn’t sit pat.
RV, as he is known to colleagues, did the opposite of that term: which means to “to oppose or resist change, to be unyielding or inflexible in one's opinion, position, or decision.”
Instead of sitting pat, he chose to prodigiously patent – currently a holder of 15 patents and counting, nine in the United States.
Those initiatives tackled some of the most complex challenges banks face today: better harnessing and wielding big data, digesting open source info, improving transactional alert accuracy with artificial intelligence and sharpening human decision-making to amplify investigative outcomes.
Those successes – and an insatiable desire to listen, learn and never get left behind – have propelled him to his current role as Vice President of Software Development, Financial Services Analytics Platform and Machine Learning Stack at Oracle Corp., the world’s third largest software company with a market cap of more than $213 billion.
In short, RV is the Chief Architect of the Analytics Applications platform (OFSAA-Platform).
The system provides the tooling framework, services, integration application programming interfaces (APIs), orchestration and choreography support for configuration and build-out of analytic applications in the risk, finance and fincrime compliance space.
The criminal cat and mouse game: adjust, adapt, act and react
In recent years, the fincrime compliance field has seen tectonic shifts, from deeper and more draconian regulatory and investigative forays of failings to what technologies are available to stop criminals using every tech tactic to beat the system – even jumping into virtual worlds.
The result: it means all of the stakeholders working to counter illicit groups and their sullied funds have been in a cat-and-mouse game.
Fincrime compliance officers, vendors, regulators, auditors and investigators are in a near constant state of flux, adjusting and adapting, acting and reacting, working all the more to capture, understand and divine data streams where individuals and their corrupt companies could be hiding.
But in a world of challenges, disruption can also result in unexpected progress, even success.
“As financial crime detection evolves from a traditional ‘rules-based’ detection system to an ensemble of rules, models, supervised/unsupervised learning, blurring of real-time and batch processing paradigms and graph analytics, being in the midst of this transformation allows for disruptive innovation to be fostered at record pace,” RV said.
“It also has a direct societal impact by helping make the world a safer place with the rule of law having the upper hand,” he said.
Since joining Oracle in 2003 via the acquisition of Sun Microsystem, RV has drawn upon this experience and vast knowledge of technology and architecture to provide critical leadership, including guiding, mentoring and training upcoming software engineering teams.
To move forward as a community, care to share knowledge, data
Sharing that knowledge is vital as the fincrime compliance community has some herculean shared challenges, including:
“How do you share learning, lessons and information across customers/domains while considering privacy concerns and regulatory mandates on data localization?” RV said, noting that while governments can more easily hammer out information sharing agreements across borders, the same can be challenging for private sector groups.
Another hurdle, in some cases, for a vendor is resistance from the customers themselves.
It can be a tough sell to get customers “to agree to collaborate for the collective good via consortium initiatives to support the investigations process,” RV said, which would help cut out noise patterns by pulling back the investigative lens with a broader understanding of actors, actions and data across the board.
Some of the more bread-and-butter obstacles against swimming together multiple sources of big data can include a lock of standardization of APIs to allow for the “ecosystem to integrate intra and inter applications” across the fincrime compliance, investigations and analytics landscape.
As a baseline, one key resource for fincrime fighters around the globe would be a “reference ontology for the Financial-Crime domain,” which he said is a “critical need.”
Beyond that, while he has cut his teeth in the areas of software, data and advanced technologies to help the good guys and stop the bad guys, RV knows that it is only by bringing everyone together and listening with an open ear – not shouting down challengers to feed your ego – that is the foundation of real progress.
“Take everyone along, foster an open environment that allows for the free flow of ideas, accept challenges and questioning from anyone, and finally do not allow the process to defeat the purpose,” he said.
RV was kind enough to share some of his knowledge, insight and secrets to his success in our latest ACFCS Member Spotlight:
Who inspires you?
Lee Kuan Yew – the founding prime minister of Singapore.
His approach to dealing with the raw challenge of having inherited a fishing port with a bunch of settlements and no real economic prospect and a powder keg of multi-ethnic groups to carry along is a lesson in resoluteness with humility and strategy that continuously evolves with reality.
What is one thing – either industry-related or not – that you learned in the past month?
It is one thing to have the ability to access data and entirely a different challenge to put it to good use to build a solution that benefits a broad audience.
What is something about you that not many people know?
I have trained dogs (my own included) and continue to do so pro bono to relax.
What do you do in your current role?
As a Vice President at Oracle, I lead the technology and engineering function of Oracle Financial Services Platform and the Machine Learning stack.
I am responsible for developing policies and procedures and using technology to enhance our Financial Crime and Compliance portfolio of products and services,
What does your career trajectory in financial crime look like?
As financial crime detection evolves from a traditional ‘rules-based’ detection system to an ensemble of rules, models, supervised/unsupervised learning, blurring of real-time and batch processing paradigms and graph analytics, being in the midst of this transformation allows for disruptive innovation to be fostered at record pace.
It also has a direct societal impact by helping make the world a safer place with the rule of law having the upper hand.
To be part of this transformation and drive it to benefit our customers is invigorating.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Ask questions. However stupid you may think they are, once asked and answered, you are that much wiser.
What is the worst advice you have ever received?
Learn from your seniors.
What would you say are the most important attributes for someone in your role to be able to succeed?
Take everyone along, foster an open environment that allows for the free flow of ideas, accept challenges and questioning from anyone, and finally do not allow the process to defeat the purpose.
How has (compliance, investigations, etc.) changed and evolved during your career?
- Rules-based batch processing is giving way to a heterogeneous computing paradigm.
- Models and Machine-Learning are interweaving seamlessly to amplify signals against noise.
- Conformity and uniformity of computing approach, where the processing cycle is subsuming volume data or streaming data.
- Investigations now are encompassing internal data in tandem with external signals and cross-domain linkages enabled through technologies like Graph analytics.
What do you see as the key challenges related to financial crime in your role or in the sector overall?
The challenges that all of us need to work toward easing are:
- How do you share learning, lessons and information across customers/domains while considering privacy concerns and regulatory mandates on data localization?
- Getting customers to agree to collaborate for the collective good via consortium initiatives to support the investigations process, help cut out noise patterns from a broader understanding of actors, actions and data across the board, etc.
- Standardization of APIs to allow for the ecosystem to integrate intra and inter applications across the fincrime compliance, investigations and analytics landscape.
- A reference ontology for the Financial-Crime domain is a critical need.
What motivated you to become a financial crime professional?
- Applicability of your contribution in a way that is perceptible and relatable.
- Societal impact for a safer ecosystem.
Is there anything that surprised you about your current role?
The ease with which all stakeholders aligned and adopted a rapid assimilation of changes to the wider computing paradigm and doing so by fincrime fighting teams across the board in the public and private sectors.
How did you get your first job in the field and what advice would you give other job seekers to help land their first position?
I had an ability to connect the dots logically and was able to articulate a solution approach irrespective of the domain as I had no background in Financial-Crime when I landed the role.
Most importantly, I also had the passion for marrying disparate technologies together for the greater social good.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part of the job has been the opportunity to work with business, technology and regulatory experts every day.
There is no domain where I believe this sort of amalgamation is evident. Stakeholders across domains, including customers, come together rapidly as the benefits of a better solution require no hard sell.
For professionals with 5-10 years of experience, what advice would you give to help them rise in their careers to the next level?
A strong understanding of data, data sources and data commonality would be a key differentiator.
Additional capabilities that would provide the edge include the ability to build processing routines as a fine-grained collection that allows for orchestration methodologies to support both real-time and time period-based processing with the same stack and a sense for open-architecture that enables the ecosystem to interplay with solutions to provide customers immediate discernible value.
See What Certified Financial Crime Specialists Are Saying
"The CFCS tests the skills necessary to fight financial crime. It's comprehensive. Passing it should be considered a mark of high achievement, distinguishing qualified experts in this growing specialty area."
KENNETH E. BARDEN
"It's a vigorous exam. Anyone passing it should have a great sense of achievement."
(CFCS, Official Superior
de Cumplimiento Cidel
Bank & Trust Inc. Nueva York)
"The exam tests one's ability to apply concepts in practical scenarios. Passing it can be a great asset for professionals in the converging disciplines of financial crime."
(CFCS, Royal Band of
"The Exam is far-reaching. I love that the questions are scenario based. I recommend it to anyone in the financial crime detection and prevention profession."
(CFCS, CAMS Lead Compliance
Trainer, FINRA, Member Regulation
Training, Washington, DC)
"This certification comes at a very ripe time. Professionals can no longer get away with having siloed knowledge. Compliance is all-encompassing and enterprise-driven."
CFCS, CAMS, CFE, CSAR
Director, Global Risk
& Investigation Practice
FTI Consulting, Los Angeles