By Emily Stimmel
Like a good mystery, Luke Brindle-Khym’s career has taken some unexpected twists and turns. But along the winding road, from labor activist to investigator, he remains passionate about truth and justice.
The Carnegie Mellon University alumnus has taken that passion and turned it into a viable business with Quest Research & Investigations (QRI), which collects evidence for civil and criminal litigators and investigates corporate misconduct.
Brindle-Khym earned his bachelor’s degree from CMU’s Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences in 2001, majoring in social history with an additional major in English. He spends his days performing compliance work and transactional due diligence to minimize legal and financial risks for his clients. He said that his CMU education gave him the foundation to do this by teaching him how to critically analyze texts — from great works of literature to financial statements and SEC filings.
“A Dietrich College education empowers you to ask difficult, fundamental questions and to refine and sharpen those questions as you quest closer to the truth. Students can use those skills to do great things,” Brindle-Khym said.
Since earning his degree, he has applied those skills as a labor activist, law student and investigator. In 2001, he participated in a Union Summer internship where he campaigned to help nurses organize. The cause was dear to his heart because his mother, Meg Brindle, was a nurse prior to being a double CMU graduate with a master’s degree in public management from Heinz College in 1988 and an applied history Ph.D. from Dietrich College in 1992.
Union Summer ignited Brindle-Khym’s interest in labor rights and led him to the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees, where he worked with striking garment workers from DHB Industries. Within six months, he uncovered strong evidence that the company’s CEO David H. Brooks was committing securities fraud. His sleuthing triggered a criminal investigation of the CEO, who was convicted of tax evasion and insider trading.
“I had little formal training in interpreting financial filings and the arcane world of securities regulation. But the tools I picked up at CMU equipped me to grapple with the evidence I was uncovering,” he said.
This experience steered his career to the investigations firm Kroll. Working among prosecutors, he thought a law degree would enhance his skills and connected with Joseph Devine, CMU’s pre-law adviser, for help preparing his application for Fordham University School of Law.
“Conducting investigations was my calling, but it wasn’t enough,” Brindle-Khym said. “In our society, the law is one of the most powerful ways to right wrongs. My legal training allows me to arm my clients with the facts to build stronger cases.”
Devine, Dietrich College’s associate dean for undergraduate studies, often mentions Brindle-Khym to other students because of his career’s twists and turns.
“His life story has been fascinating because he pays attention to opportunities and follows them. He has a willingness to embrace uncertainty and serendipity,” Devine said.
Since QRI’s inception in 2010, Brindle-Khym has focused on building a team of world-class investigators with strong detective skills and high ethical standards. Soon, QRI investigators will begin using the artificial intelligence technology and machine learning tools they have built in-house to identify patterns in vast quantities of data.
Kathy Newman advised Brindle-Khym on his senior honors thesis and believes his intellectual curiosity and strong moral compass make him an excellent role model for students in the Dietrich College.
“His interesting work should be a source of hope, proving that their education can be used to forge a unique and successful path,” said Newman, associate professor of English. “He created a job for himself where there wasn’t one. That is a very CMU thing to do.”
Photo: [l-r] Luke Brindle-Khym and Joseph E. Devine.