Combatting Cybercrime With an MBA

intense man at computer

Ritesh Kotak is helping his employers navigate the challenges of digital disruption. 

Ritesh Kotak spent over five years in the Toronto Police Service working directly for the Deputy Chief of Police developing social, cyber, and digital platforms to help combat crime. He enrolled in the MBA program at the University of Edinburgh Business School to catalyze a career transition out of policing and into cybersecurity and digital consulting for global businesses including the tech giant, Microsoft. 

Bursting the bubble 

“In policing, you develop a homogeneous way of thinking as you’re surrounded by police officers, detectives, analysts, and the courts,” he says. “It’s a bubble. I needed to burst it and be exposed to points of view from other industries, so the natural thing for me to do was the MBA, where people come together from every profession.” 

Since graduating a year ago, the Canadian has used the MBA to deliver value to many employers as a freelance consultant—helping them navigate the challenges of technological disruption. Kotak cites the example of helping a major technology company develop an analytical tool that can predict specific crimes—a topic that he wrote his MBA dissertation on, which guided his work. 

While there are obvious use cases for the police service, Kotak says the MBA helped him to “think outside of the box.” He advised another client on how to break into new global markets, applying the analytical tool to other industries including health care, where he could predict staffing needs. After all, MBA students develop sector-specific insights from a curriculum covering broad business contexts via case studies and consultancy projects. 

“The technology requires significant investment and, as it’s for a very niche market, it’s difficult to scale it and show the ROI (return on investment),” says Kotak. “I used my MBA dissertation to research other markets, giving the tool wider application.” 

A collaborative global network 

As well as the MBA syllabus itself, the consultant has made use of his business school network of experienced candidates around the world, with whom Kotak communicates and collaborates effectively with. It was Edinburgh alumni who helped him conduct feasibility studies for applying the analytical tool to new markets. 

“If I come across something I don’t understand, I can pick up the phone, call someone somewhere else in the world who has the same training as me, and they will help,” he says. “My end product is vastly different and much better than what it was, because of the MBA network.” 

The project is just being rolled out and Kotak believes it will bring bottom-line benefits to the companies he works with. More accurate demand forecasting can help keep costs down and, in the case of policing, can reduce the economic cost of victimization, he says. “We can decrease the probability of crimes being repeated in the same neighborhood by placing more policing resources in crime hotspots.” 

Mixing with classmates from across the globe also developed Kotak’s cross-cultural collaboration skills, which he has put to use for his employers. He attended a world internet summit in China as a speaker and also completed an exchange at Peking University in Beijing as part of the MBA program. 

The experience helped him introduce his clients to new ways of communicating with different cultures using technology. For instance, he got Police Services in Canada to leverage the Chinese messaging app WeChat and microblogging sites to relay public safety warnings to the local Chinese community, in Mandarin. 

“It has reduced costs because WeChat is free to use,” Kotak says. “And it builds the police force’s legitimacy with that specific community. As a result, we have built trust and that can improve public safety—the police’s ultimate aim.”