Career Interview with Julia Robson

Connect with Julia on LinkedIn.

Check out her online investigations agency here.

Julia, where do you work now and what exactly is it that you do?

Since 2012 I have owned and operated the private investigation company, Online Investigations Pty Ltd. As a private investigator no two days are the same, but the cases I will typically find myself working on are locating individuals, conducting background checks, undertaking due diligence, establishing connections between individuals, and uncovering the true identity of anonymous actors online.

The work I do generally has an OSINT component - whether that be initial research or an essential part of the investigation - that goes towards solving the problem.

Can you tell us more about the industry that you are working in?

The private investigation industry is essentially an overarching term for an incredibly diverse range of speciality areas within the field of investigation.  For example, there are investigators who have expertise in surveillance, fraud, forensics, interviewing, genealogy etc. 

As a full service agency, we hold relationships with investigators holding each of these different skills across the globe who we can call upon when the need arises.  

What skills, knowledge, and background are required to work in your industry?

Depending where you live, it is highly likely there will be some form of licensing requirement to operate as a private investigator in your area. Obtaining a licence will show you’re an individual of good standing and you’ve undertaken some form of investigation training. From there it comes down to the individual themselves to either continue their own independent training or align themselves with an experienced investigation company for on the job training.

In your view, what are the top skills/attributes to have for becoming successful in your area?

Someone with a curious mind, who can think outside the box, accepts they will never know everything and leaves their ego at the door.

Where and how did you land your first job?

From a young age I had always aspired to be a Police Officer, so my investigation career began when I entered the Police Force at 20 years old. My interest in the online investigation world when I left the Police and started working as a corporate investigator in the United Kingdom.

Moving to Melbourne, Australia the two methods of old school and modern day investigation collided when I started my own private investigation company.

Looking back at how you started and where you are today, what advice do you have for someone who wants to pursue a similar career or even transition to the field you are working in?

Given how diverse the private investigation world is, it’s very difficult to recommend a particular course or area of study if someone wanted to transition into this field. As a gauge to see if this field is of interest I would recommend following the #osint hashtag on Twitter, participating in Trace Labs events and undertaking your own amateur investigations online to try and develop your own methodologies and techniques.

Then it’s understanding your local State requirements for becoming a licensed investigator.

If you were to hire people in your team, what would you look for? 

I regularly receive resumes and emails from people interested in working with me.  While I have no issue with this, something I would prefer to see over a resume are clear examples of how they solved a problem using OSINT. 

There are so many practice examples people can find online and although there is usually one answer there are multiple methods of solving it.  That’s what I am interested in understanding – how an individual approaches a problem and the steps they took to solve it.  

Looking at your career, is there anything you would do differently today if you had the chance to travel back in time?

Of course! In saying that though the digital landscape changes so much there are ongoing opportunities to explore other avenues, learn different techniques and network with people from a varied range of industries.   

Where and how do you develop yourself professionally?

The first thing I do in the morning is check the #osint hashtag on Twitter.  It’s by far the easiest way to keep an eye on the latest sites, tools and techniques being widely used and recommended.  

Are there any websites, books, podcasts, or anything else that you would recommend for professional development (does not have to be OSINT related)?

It would be remiss of me not to mention my own podcast ‘Chasing Charlie’ here. This was a case I worked on for seven years chasing a global conman around the world using OSINT as my main investigation tool. 

[End of interview]

Note: this interview has not been edited.