A career in internal auditing today is not the same as a career in internal auditing as little as five years ago; responsibilities grow, areas of emphasis shift, and technology advances. And that’s just the way this year’s Emerging Leaders like it — they excel when challenged and appreciate new opportunities to add value. These outstanding practitioners have different geographies, educational backgrounds, motivations for entering the field, and professional ambitions. But there’s much that connects them, too. They value the development and networking opportunities afforded by active involvement in The IIA and other professional organizations; they love to learn, especially about technology; and they value the key role internal audit often plays in strategic planning and business operations. And in addition to their commitments professionally, many are engaged on a civic and community level. Collectively, the achievements of these 15 practitioners bode well for the future of internal audit, and for the organizations they serve.
I wish we could get more young people involved.” That’s how Chris Eidd wants to change the internal audit profession, and he puts his money where his mouth is every day. Teresa Conover, a professor and director of executive programs at the University of North Texas (UNT), says Eidd’s genuine love for the profession encourages students to seek internal auditing as a career path when the UNT graduate shows up on campus for one of his many “get the word out” visits. He volunteers as a guest speaker for the UNT Seminar in Internal Auditing course — on the topic of interviewing techniques, among others — and as a “professional in residence” for the Student Investment Group Live Audit, working with a different student team each semester. Additionally, he serves on the UNT Internal Audit Advisory Board. What gets him so excited about his work? “I love how the profession is evolving to help support business and still cover compliance requirements,” he says, noting that when he started, “internal audit” mostly meant “Sarbanes-Oxley testing.” Now, he gets involved in a variety of projects ranging from due diligence to fraud investigations to litigation support. No matter what the subject is, he always tries to manage up and down — pushing staff to meet their goals and deadlines, and pushing managers to get replies and to request support when they need it. Managing up also means making your boss’s job easier. If he or she has too many messages to manage, don’t leave another one; talk in person. “That’s the best way to move the ball forward,” Eidd says.
Grace Sharpley is delighted about the development of her profession and what she sees as its future. “While assuring control effectiveness and looking for ways to deliver insight are key to the work we do,” she says, “projects should allow auditors to be change agents.” Increasingly, Sharpley adds, they do. She says the level of exposure she has to movers and shakers has come as a pleasant surprise, allowing her to develop business relationships with them that produce requests for her team to “provide guidance on risks and controls as strategic decisions are being made.” That work, the University of Notre Dame graduate emphasizes, is energizing — and it’s always changing. There isn’t a “typical” internal auditor anymore, she says, noting that her team now includes colleagues with backgrounds in accounting, finance, international business, data analysis, IT, and law. Also outdated, according to Randy Horton, internal audit director at AutoZone, is the notion of internal auditors hedging their bets in reporting findings and trying to stay under the proverbial radar. He says that Sharpley, who was promoted to audit manager after just over a year, will have none of that. “Reiterating what leadership is already aware of does not reflect well on the department,” Horton says. “She drives her team to be able to constructively answer why the audit results are important and why the recommendations should be implemented.” If it sounds like she gets a lot done, it’s in part because she never slows down. “Most people on my floor at work know this already,” she says, “but I always walk very quickly. I can’t help it. Probably because there are always a lot of things that are not checked off on my to-do list!”
Jenny Wei learned early on the value of data analytics — especially how it can be integrated into internal audit workflows to make the function more effective. Now she’s known for her expertise in that increasingly critical area. Farah George Araj, senior manager at Deloitte, notes that Wei leveraged data analytics during internal audit engagements, “using her business understanding and leveraging the skills of specialists to incorporate data analytics and data visualizations into her projects throughout planning, execution, and reporting to deliver better insights to clients.” One example: the vendor audits her firm’s Contract Risk and Compliance service conducts. Using data analytics, Wei and her team can review 100 percent of spending, target review on the highest-risk areas, and identify with better precision what happened in the entire population. “Data analytics can be used to identify risks at an enterprise level,” the University of Alberta graduate says, “and drive the identification of emerging risks that management may not have seen.” Given her druthers, Wei would “increase the speed of innovation in the profession.” She would call on internal auditors to “become innovative thinkers and propose more creative solutions for management — including being innovative in improving the way internal audit functions.” Wei also focuses on the human side of the profession, serving on the board of IIA–Edmonton, helping raise funds and increase membership for the chapter. Moreover, Wei promotes internal audit certification and awareness through presentations at her alma mater and, on the job, has encouraged team members to join The IIA and pursue the Certified Internal Auditor designation. And she makes sure to explain to clients the importance of professional certifications and the application of IIA standards.
When Ambrose Opolot discusses stakeholder expectations — noting that they’ve “increased, become varied, and are at times conflicting” — the Makerere University graduate knows what he’s talking about. Opolot was tasked with starting an internal audit function from scratch after convincing company leadership of the advantages of bringing the discipline in house. Josepha Tibenderana, head of internal audit at Umeme Ltd. and Opolot’s mentor and former boss, notes that Opolot’s role as head of the function has expanded to include overseeing risk management and coordinating with other assurance providers. “He has ably managed the expectations of his clients,” Tibenderana says, adding that Opolot has been invited to Toyota’s South Africa regional office to present to the internal audit leadership team there. Says Opolot: “Now I have to prove the value and benefit I have to add to the organization, and also mentor individuals who have just started out in internal audit.” That suits him just fine: He says he appreciates being considered a trusted adviser and enjoys internal audit’s consulting role because it involves telling management how well systems and processes are working. That requires him to make recommendations for improvement — which is exactly the type of communication he advocates for bridging any expectation gaps his stakeholders may have. “Implementation of necessary improvement requires developing trust-based relationships throughout the business,” he says. His role as a business partner will be increasingly important in the future, he says, because technology advances and economic globalization lead to “change that is both predictable and unpredictable.” Internal audit, he adds, must adapt as needed to meet the growing challenges of identifying, assessing, monitoring, and controlling risk.
Jaimie Yang, CIA, CPA, CISA
25, Senior Auditor
CEC Entertainment, Irving, Texas
One of the tricks you learn after spending as much of your free time on a flying trapeze as hobbyist Jaimie Yang is using your body to maximize the swing. In fact, maximizing is something she excels at on the ground, too. As an example, when Yang sought to maximize her ability to extract and analyze data on her own for audit planning and fieldwork, she took the initiative to enroll in a local community college course on SQL — a programming language designed for managing data. David Price, senior director of internal audit and risk management at CEC Entertainment, notes that Yang excels at maximizing specific processes, too. She streamlined processes for training, test work, reporting, and metrics for an annual inventory audit that took about 470 hours and reconfigured it as a 250-hour project. And during another engagement, Price says, “she was able to identify five main drivers for US$18 million in absolute value adjustments.” The University of Texas at Dallas graduate also maximizes available professional education options. She participated in the school’s Internal Auditing Education Partnership program and took full advantage of its connection to The IIA; she was actively involved with the Dallas Chapter and the student chapter, working as a volunteer for an annual fraud conference and for the Dallas Chapter’s Annual Super Conference. Yang also served as an internal audit intern during grad school. She wishes more managers recognized what internal audit can accomplish. “I’d change our relationship with clients so they better understood what we’re doing — and why,” she says. “With better client input, we can be more effective at helping the company progress.”
Roland Stautzenberger, CIA, CRMA, CCSA
Farmers Insurance, Austin, Texas
When Roland Stautzenberger looks to the future, he sees internal auditors with strong data skills and even stronger technological expertise auditing, say, a company’s artificial intelligence division or its digital currency transactions. Moreover, the University of Texas at Austin graduate says that stakeholders will expect internal audit functions to focus more on future risks as they incorporate those new technologies. That should help make his audit wish come true: to see an end to the common stereotypes some people have about the discipline and instead see audit departments viewed as business partners throughout the enterprise. Indeed, he advocates including “collaborating with internal audit to achieve organizational objectives” as part of every job description at every company at all levels. But he adds: “This role would have to be earned by each internal audit department, not just be given outright.” Audit functions must track, measure, and report the value they provide, he emphasizes. That helps them adjust as needed to keep improving and adding value, and it shows the rest of the organization the many benefits internal audit brings to the table. One example is a project he completed while treasurer of The IIA’s Austin Chapter, where he currently serves as president. Dan Clemens, head of Internal Audit Planning and Operations at Farmers Insurance, explains that Stautzenberger “implemented new financial processes, creating transparency of the chapter’s finances, for which he received the chapter’s President’s Award in 2014.” The processes, Stautzenberger says, included additional reports to the Board of Governors, such as financial report breakdowns on every chapter event, and new reconciliation processes that help ensure all payments are accounted for at each event — including purchase orders, checks, credit card payments, and receivables.
Ann Gripentog, CIA, CPA
28, Internal Audit Manager
Station Casinos LLC, Las Vegas
Ann Gripentog likes to spread the word about internal audit. Her boss at Station Casinos, Melissa Warstler, senior internal audit director, calls her “our No. 1 cheerleader regarding the profession.” She lauds the way the University of Nevada at Las Vegas (UNLV) graduate “is always encouraging everyone to pursue certification and understand the benefits.” She adds that Gripentog “is not afraid to tell someone her professional opinion” when she works with operations departments — including gaming, accounting, and food and beverage — to educate them on risk and why certain areas need to be audited. In return, Gripentog appreciates being able to “dive deep into the company’s processes.” In so doing, her boss adds, she takes charge of her assignments and takes ownership — and sets an example for others. Gripentog spends a lot of time communicating the benefits of internal audit to students as well, attending recruitment events on campus and working with the UNLV accounting department to promote internal audit — often taking the opportunity to explain the difference between internal audit, external audit, and accounting. Interns are a special focus, too. She calls herself lucky because she was able to complete hiring for Station Casinos’ internal audit internship program, adding that she likes working with individuals early in their careers. “I get to take these new young professionals and mold them into auditors,” she says. “Within our internship program, I’ve seen a lot of the interns move to full-time positions, and it’s nice to feel that you’ve helped them grow.” As these and other audit professionals move forward, one change she foresees is enhancing the balance between helping management improve operations and remaining independent.
Matt Kozlowski, CIA, CRMA
29, Senior Manager
Matt Kozlowski has developed a unique view of leadership as he’s attempted to “emulate the traits of the strongest leaders” he’s encountered. A leader’s most important role, he says, is setting the right example — that means never being “too busy,” and it means never hesitating to roll up your sleeves and get into the details. The Louisiana State University graduate emphasizes that “the best measure of a leader is the success of his or her team members.” Kozlowski also says leaders need to stress to their internal audit teams that any interaction between colleagues and clients must be a positive one that promotes the profession. In 2015, he was asked to be a facilitator at Protiviti’s internal Consultant Challenge School, where he helped advise consultants about the internal audit profession using real-world examples. Based on his success, he has been invited to return this year. Kozlowski always takes advantage of opportunities to spread the word about internal auditing, in fact, pointing out that one change he would make to the profession would be getting practitioners more involved throughout the business. “Too often, we default to only working with the finance or accounting departments,” he says, “when in reality risk exists across the organization.” Accordingly, internal auditors need to build relationships throughout the enterprise to serve as trusted advisers, he says. One area where internal audit can help is in providing guidance on the implementation of the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission’s 2013 Internal Control– Integrated Framework. His work in that area, says Tyler Chase, a managing director with Protiviti, has helped drive an enhanced control environment for his clients without having to implement a slew of tactical one-off controls.
Erica Burnham, CIA
28, Internal Audit Supervisor
Raytheon Co., Waltham, Mass.
Erica Burnham’s audit expertise and extensive business education help her see well beyond internal audit’s borders and into the far corners of the company. “The course work I completed for my MBA has taught me to think more strategically and understand the interconnectedness of business operations,” she explains. Burnham says she gains from that a better understanding of the impact a control weakness or process recommendation can have not only on the audited area, but on business operations across the organization. Indeed, the Bentley University and University of Massachusetts at Amherst graduate says she’s been surprised to see how much value internal audit can add to an organization; she left school thinking internal auditors were focused on controls and compliance — and little else. Now she recognizes the contributions of internal audit in areas such as identifying enterprise synergies to achieve cost savings, developing dashboards for functions to help them better monitor their operations, and using data analytics and Six Sigma principles to identify root causes of business issues. Moving forward, she expects that big picture approach to increase in value to her clients, because an organization’s ability to identify, understand, and adapt to emerging risks will grow in importance. “Auditors, while maintaining independence, must be respected and creative business partners who can see around the corner, identify emerging risks, and help management address them,” she says. Joseph Motz, senior manager at Raytheon, adds that Burnham is “exceptionally supportive” of The IIA, of company programs promoting the profession, and of internal audit-related activities at her alma mater.
Kristine Tkachenko, CIA, CISA
29, Senior Auditor, Research Compliance
University of Toronto
Kristine Tkachenko focuses on high-tech and on high-touch in her internal audit work. The biggest change coming to the profession is technological, says the University of New Brunswick graduate, such as the ability to work remotely and advancing information-sharing technologies. On the high-touch side, Tkachenko is becoming an expert at using social media applications, such as LinkedIn and Twitter, to reach out to potential new IIA members. Her first mentor, Tony Stanco, director of audit at Ontario Tire Stewardship, says she effected “a significant increase in IIA–Toronto’s social media usage for advertising events, which was demonstrated by the success of the chapter’s winter 2015 Members’ Evening event and an overall increase in event participation.” That event, which focused on “Capital Projects: Improvement Through Internal Audit,” reached its registration capacity in just two days, Tkachenko says. She’s chair of IIA–Toronto’s Membership and Social Media Committee, and she stresses a social emphasis as part of career-building. “My advice to young people new to the profession is to be open and have fun with all the opportunities internal auditing has to offer,” she says. One of the greatest opportunities, she stresses, is networking — especially with mentors. And she encourages her colleagues to think outside the mentorship box, noting that the most successful mentorships often come from unexpected places. “The opportunities through The IIA and the networking it offers enrich your life,” she says, because each individual you interact with brings a unique set of experiences from different stages of life and career.
Ryan Singer, CIA
27, Business Risk Manager
Crowe Horwath LLP, Columbus, Ohio
Crowe Horwath’s Ryan Singer, a graduate of Miami University in Ohio, has a reputation for innovative thinking. As Wayne Gniewkowski, a principal at Crowe Horwath, puts it, “Some people look at a process and do it the same as everyone has in the past — Ryan looks at a process and determines how he can do it to best use his skills.” Sometimes that means a simple change of format; sometimes he changes the process entirely. In all cases, it means an emphasis on client service, during an engagement and after. Singer says continuous client service is critical in delivering value, noting that “clients face problems every day.” He calls on internal auditors to “provide support for clients and their problems even if it extends outside the parameters of what’s generally considered standard procedures.” Gniewkowski adds that Singer emphasizes making himself available to his team to ensure that past and current clients are “still receiving quality service.” Part of that service is the result of advances in internal audit technology, and Singer notes that those advances will have the biggest effect on the profession moving forward. But the aspect of internal audit he likes best is not the hardware and software — it’s the humans who make it work. Singer says he’s “worked with terrific people both inside and outside the firm,” and he stresses that meeting new people and learning from them are among the best aspects of his job. Indeed, a major change he’d make to internal auditing is doing a better job of presenting the profession as an alternative to external auditing and tax accounting studies on college campuses.
Dariel Dato-On, CIA, CISA
26, Senior, Risk
During his relatively short time as a practitioner, Dariel Dato-on has learned a key lesson about client engagements: “There are not always clear-cut answers to many of the problems we face in the internal audit profession,” he says. By contrast, he recalls from his days as a student that every question in the classroom had an answer and every problem had a solution — a state that doesn’t exist in the real world. And that’s a good thing. “Solving problems where there is not an obvious answer,” the University of Texas at Dallas graduate comments, “is what I’ve enjoyed doing the most.” That’s apparent, notes Joseph Mauriello, director of the Center for Internal Auditing Excellence at UT Dallas, who says Dato-on “has the keen ability to parse through the subterfuge and offer effective and efficient solutions.” One example is his streamlining and redesign of the online resume book system for the UT Dallas student IIA organization, Mauriello says — a solution that reduced upload and administration times and simplified the process for future students. And Mark Salamasick, executive director, audit, at the University of Texas System, notes that Dato-on is “one of the most technical IT auditors in the marketplace today,” lauding him for running several websites, building computers, and writing software for online programs. Dato-on, he adds, is solution-oriented and comes up with “creative and automated ways” to solve business problems. When the solution must be discovered, because it’s not evident, internal auditors need to be extra careful to ensure their clients understand that ultimately they have their and the company’s best interests in mind, Dato-on explains. “We as a profession are definitely moving in the right direction,” he says. And his own forward movement has a soundtrack: Dato-on plays classical piano for recreation and for, he says, “whomever is willing to listen.”
30, Lead Consultant, Risk Advisory Services
Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP, Atlanta
Robin Brown wants to make sure she’s never in a data breach situation where the board of directors asks, “Where were the internal auditors?” That’s why she urges all practitioners to gain experience in evaluating and testing the IT systems that support their companies’ operations. And as cloud computing and social media continue to expand, she advises becoming more aware of the cybersecurity space, how to test it, and how to prepare the organization for a data breach. “A data breach of any size is inevitable,” the Randolph-Macon College graduate says, “but the way a company identifies, contains, and responds to it directly impacts its success.” She also sees the need for enhanced use of data analytics for identifying key trends, leading indicators, and areas of risk to the business. These tools, she notes, can be used both to definitively evidence exceptions to internal controls and processes and to automate some of the more routine audit steps. In one recent example, reports Seth Peterson, assistant vice president and internal audit manager at The First National Bank in Sioux Falls, Brown used analytic tools during an inventory management process assessment to identify and isolate forklift drivers and inventory cycle counters who circumvented established procedures, impacting inventory accuracy. Management used her findings to identify repeat offenders and establish opportunities to retrain or release company employees, says Peterson, a 2013 Emerging Leader who reached out to Brown to collaborate after seeing her in an Audit Channel video. It’s one of the ways, he adds, that Brown shows she’s passionate about the audit profession. Ask Brown about another passion, and her artistic side emerges: “If I weren’t in internal audit, I would be in New York City trying to make it on Broadway,” she says. “Musical theater is my passion. Singing, dancing, and acting are in my blood.”
Jamie White, CPEA, CESCO
30, Managing Consultant, EHS Performance and Risk Management
Trinity Consultants Inc., Raleigh, N.C.
Jamie White is a highly specialized auditor, the kind who works for various clients to conduct environmental health and safety (EHS) audits. She says the biggest change she faces in her work is the impact of smaller companies becoming part of larger ones through mergers and acquisitions, requiring practitioners to audit to higher conformance standards. White’s colleagues say she already does. Bill Qualls, executive director at ResponsibleAg and chair of The IIA’s Environmental, Health and Safety Audit Center Advisory Board, explains that White is a member of Trinity’s EHS Performance and Risk Management Business Line, which assists each of the company’s 50 offices globally in developing and executing EHS audit opportunities. White, a graduate of the University of New Hampshire and the University of Illinois and vice chair of the EHS Center Advisory Board, “offers training classes on EHS auditing,” Qualls notes, “mentoring compliance staff new to auditing and serving as an on-call resource to each company employee who has a question or requires advice on EHS auditing and compliance.” For White, it’s all in a day’s work. “I’ve become very comfortable as an auditor and can easily and comfortably engage professionals at all levels, from an hourly employee up to a CEO of a multi-billion-dollar oil and gas giant,” she says. In fact, she emphasizes that communication skills, a key aspect of internal audit effectiveness, have become one of her biggest assets. She credits her parents for what she calls her “ambitious nature” — noting that her father advised her not to be a wallflower and to expand her horizons. Now when she sees an opportunity, she takes it, or volunteers for it, or learns from it. “It’s important to put yourself out there,” she counsels, “because it’s the best way to grow.”
Kayla Brown, CPA
26, Senior Internal Auditor
Carter's Inc., Atlanta
Kayla Brown embraces technology, but makes sure her emphasis remains on the human side of internal audit. Technology has dramatically changed the way internal auditors perform, she says, noting that it may be impossible to even imagine the changes coming in the future — changes that should considerably improve audit efficiency. “But it is still so important to establish relationships with individuals in the business,” she advises. “Don’t just email process owners. Pay a quick visit if they are in the same office, or make a phone call.” She leverages in-person relationships to show that internal auditors can be business partners — not telling clients what they’re doing wrong, but providing recommendations for improvement. That’s made easier by her emphasis on operational audits, because they provide such a clear view of so many aspects of an enterprise’s operations. Brown stresses the importance of career-long networking — even when a new position isn’t the goal — and encourages college students to get involved in activities on campus, such as case competitions and conferences, to promote their personal brand. No matter the specific industry, she adds, relationships are always key. That’s a message she regularly relates to campus audiences at her alma mater Kennesaw State University, and at Georgia Tech, to encourage students to consider the internal audit profession, says her mentor William Mulcahy, CEO at Mulcahy Consulting. In addition, she’s active in The IIA’s Atlanta Chapter, particularly its mentor–mentee program, he says. As her mentor in that program, Mulcahy credits Brown’s efforts in increasing overall chapter membership.
|Meet the Judges|
According to this year’s judges, the qualities that define Internal Auditor’s 2016 Emerging Leaders include “forward thinking through greater use of technology,” as one judge puts it, and “finding a way to give back to their communities and their profession.” The judges, a distinguished group that includes two past Emerging Leaders, also point to the honorees’ innovation, creativity, flexibility, and collaboration.
Pam Jenkins, CIA, CPA, CRMA, vice president, Global Audit Services, Fossil Group; vice chairman, professional development, IIA North American Board of Directors. As a group, Jenkins says, this year’s Emerging Leaders are impressive in part because of their “determination to make internal audit a trusted business partner and adviser, and not simply a fact-checking function.”
Mike Joyce, CIA, CRMA, vice president, chief auditor & compliance officer, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association; vice chairman, finance, IIA Global Board of Directors. “Today’s Emerging Leaders will be tomorrow’s experienced leaders,” Joyce says. That experience will be critical moving forward, he adds, because internal audit is “under increasing pressure to identify emerging risks and trends rather than rely on identifying root causes for historical events.”
Derrick Li, CIA, CRMA, CPA, CA, director, Internal Audit & Performance Improvement, TransLink: South Coast British Colombia Transportation Authority; 2014 Emerging Leader; InternalAuditor.org blogger. Internal audit, like the business environment, is constantly changing, Li says. “This year’s Emerging Leaders will need to help ensure audits focus on the current and future issues relevant to the business.”
Charlotta LÖfstrand Hjelm, CIA, QIAL, chief internal auditor, Lansforsakringar AB; vice chairman, professional certifications, IIA Global Board of Directors. Hjelm is impressed with this year’s honorees — their talent, their knowledge, and their inspiration. “If they have accomplished this much by age 30,” she says, “anything is possible in the future.”
Laura Soileau, CIA, CRMA, CPA, partner, Postlethwaite & Netterville; 2014 Emerging Leader; InternalAuditor.org blogger; IIA Publications Advisory Committee member. Soileau says this year’s Emerging Leaders are “very impressive” — as they’ve all shown creativity and innovation, and often found new ways to approach routine challenges and opportunities.
Benito Ybarra, CIA, chief audit and compliance officer, Texas Department of Transportation; vice chairman, content, IIA North American Board of Directors; IIA Publications Advisory Committee member. In addition to abundant professional certifications, Ybarra notes that this year’s Emerging Leaders demonstrate a “high degree of social responsibility through their volunteer and ambassador activities.”