Internal Audit is often a misunderstood profession – it is a career that can give you a solid grounding for developing thought leadership and strategic thinking skills. A common misconception is that Internal Audit is predominantly a finance profession but is more about improving risk management and the effectiveness and efficiency of business processes. Innovative thinking and fresh perspectives are essential, so people from diverse backgrounds are valued. Internal Auditors are the solution-oriented critical friends of senior executives, who appreciate candid and insightful advice that help them achieve organisational goals. In this article, we spoke to James Jong, the newly appointed Head of Profession of Internal Audit & Risk Assurance for the public sector and the Chief Internal Auditor at the Ministry of Education to get a deeper understanding of what Internal Audit truly entails.
Internal auditing is an independent consulting activity that strengthens and protects organisations. Internal Auditors support the achievement of organisations objectives with pragmatic risk insights that strengthen governance and improve business processes. A common area of focus for public service organsations is the maintenance of trust and confidence. Their work aims to give confidence to organisations have effective systems and processes to mitigate risk and deliver intended outcomes.
The work of an Internal Auditor aims to give confidence to senior executives that risk management processes and systems are effective. If issues occur, Internal Auditors provide objective advice to management about what should be improved systematically to reduce future recurrence. Internal Auditors exercise critical thinking to identify ways to promote better practices, which are critical to the performance and success of the organistation.
There are very few roles that have access to the entirety of an organisation. This is beneficial as you are visible to many senior stakeholders, which allows you to create and grow your professional brand. Many senior executives have spent time in Internal Audit to hone their skills in relationship management, risk judgement, business control and organisational oversight. Internal Auditors often move into management, project and senior leadership roles, depending on their experience and subject matter expertise.
Having access to an entire organisation is a huge advantage to any professional who is looking to level up into senior leadership roles. A few years in Internal Audit will give you first-hand insight into organisational governance, risk management and control, and performance and accountability of executives.
If you are more interested in developing a deeper level of expertise in a specific subject matter, Internal Audit exposes you to a wide range of specialist areas. Some of the areas that Internal Auditors are paying close attention to are data analytics, cybersecurity, business transformation and business-critical supplies. Getting involved in these activities could lead you into a career in information management, deep technology, business systems analysis/design and strategic procurement.
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