The paradigm for young audit professionals is shifting rapidly. Continuing a trend established by each successive group of Emerging Leaders over the last few years, 2017’s class started their careers remarkably well-prepared and laser-focused on internal auditing. In fact, some began making career plans as early as high school; and some have returned to their alma mater post-graduation to help educate others on the profession. These practitioners aren’t nonaudit professionals who just happened to answer an internal audit want ad. Moreover, they’re what might be called “post-IT-literate.” In other words, they don’t see computer skills as a necessary asset for getting ahead at the office. Proficiency with data and software is assumed; it’s been an integral part of their entire lives. They think in terms of maximizing process improvement through data analytics and leveraging sophisticated IT in routine audit engagements. And this year’s crop embraces the role of trusted advisor. They’re ready to take a seat at the C-suite table, to advise the business on high-level risk assessment and mitigation, and to use their unique perspective to spot problems and opportunities that impact the success of the organization. These ambitious, talented practitioners are steeped in the profession, poised to take on new challenges, and ready to lead.
Everet Zicarelli, CIA, CPA
27, Senior Internal Auditor
Sallie Mae Bank
It’s time for internal auditors to get the credit they deserve, and Everet Zicarelli is doing what he can to accomplish that. In fact, the University of Delaware graduate says the profession should place more emphasis on marketing internal auditing as an exciting and rewarding career choice for college graduates. “I’d like to see the profession encourage schools to offer more courses and majors centered around internal auditing,” he says “so we can attract talented candidates straight out of college and grow that talent organically.” He says he hopes others will have a better awareness of the profession than he did after graduating and working in public accounting. “When I switched to internal audit, I didn’t really have a good understanding of the difference between external and internal auditing.” Now that he’s gotten up to speed on the latter, Zicarelli keeps his external audit skills sharp by leading Sallie Mae Bank’s direct assistance program for its external financial statement audit, notes Thomas Linton, the company’s vice president, Internal Audit. The team performs audit-related tasks on behalf of the external auditors, reducing the fees and “further demonstrating the competency of the internal audit function.” Zicarelli helps enhance that competency through his role with the department’s on-campus internship recruiting program — and, Linton points out, he’s been rewarded for his efforts by being tapped as the designated mentor for all internal audit interns. He adds that feedback from past and current interns highlights the role Zicarelli has played in ensuring a first-class internship experience. “My favorite part is their passion for learning,” Zicarelli says. “They want to learn it all and can’t wait to take on the next challenge. That’s extremely rewarding.”
Karen Tylinski, CFE
29, Senior Auditor
Karen Tylinski sees things differently — and she tries to help others do so, too. She started at her current company with a background in tax at a Big 4 international accounting firm, notes Kevin Alvero, senior vice president, Internal Audit, at Nielsen. Since coming on board, the University of South Florida graduate has shared audit techniques from the tax field “that have benefited us in the audience measurement industry,” he says. Tylinski’s efforts include researching new audit tools and helping automate previously manual audit procedures, and she’s leading a large internal audit engagement that could have a multimillion-dollar impact on the business. Alvero adds: “This is indicative of the level of comfort I have in her leadership skills.” Tylinski says experience helps her build confidence, which makes the job even more rewarding. She says she has a better understanding and awareness of how her work fits into the big picture, for the department and the company, which makes it more fulfilling. She says she hopes to spread the word, showing future practitioners how exciting internal auditing is. “Internal auditing keeps me on my toes, especially since no two projects are the same,” she says. “I would like to help people outside the profession understand how stimulating and rewarding it can be.”
Kara Goslin, CIA, CPA
29, Senior Internal Auditor – EMEA
Deckers Outdoor Corp.
Kara Goslin wants to make internal audit better on the inside — and from the outside. Sarah Eberhardt, chief audit executive at Deckers Outdoor Corp., recalls Goslin’s response to feedback about U.S. Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 testing tools that were slow and not user friendly. The University of California at Santa Barbara graduate helped choose and develop a new tool, and was very involved in streamlining the internal testing process. She also successfully presented a business case to Eberhardt and the company’s chief financial officer for her current assignment to London, her home base for helping improve Sarbanes-Oxley testing in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa — and for networking globally within the company. She has also created training materials and conducted coaching sessions with local leadership. Moreover, Goslin wants to update internal auditors’ demographics, noting it is “a field that becomes much more male dominated the higher in management you rise.” She says the paradigm is shifting, but emphasizes that the profession still has a long way to go in terms of women’s visibility and progression. Indeed, Goslin sees internal audit departments tapping practitioners with more varied backgrounds moving forward. “A lot of departments have rotational programs,” she says. “That’s important in broadening our understanding and identifying where we should be focusing.” She adds that it could help change how outsiders see internal auditors. And while she’s amused by people who picture “a tight-laced numbers person trying to dig up dirt,” she stresses the importance of countering that false impression. Goslin looks forward to the day when nobody is surprised that a woman, musician, and craft beer aficionado is also an internal auditor.
Brian Salvador, CPA
29, Senior Internal Auditor
Intellectual Ventures Management LLC
Brian Salvador likes to get things done — and if they don’t work correctly, he likes to fix them. He offered dozens of project performance improvement suggestions to his previous employers EY and Boeing, says Colette Pretorius, Salvador’s former boss at Boeing and now group finance manager at Microsoft. The Portland State University graduate once led a control assessment at a major sports promotion company with personnel scattered across three continents and led testing of Sarbanes-Oxley controls for two Fortune 500 companies. Notably, he also developed a risk control matrix repository — based on engagement and control types — to improve quality and consistency in workpaper documentation, saving one client more than 4,500 hours. “I noticed that auditors were always drafting audit programs from scratch,” Salvador says. The tool was well-received and now serves as a model to new auditors developing work programs. But there are bigger changes he’d also like to effect, moving the profession from “primarily providing process assurance to providing proactive consulting, helping the organization improve internal controls and underlying systems in a manner that positively impacts downstream activity.” He notes as well that technology-savvy and mature organizations will shift toward automation, requiring further proactive efforts from practitioners. “It’s important for internal auditors to understand the tools available to analyze data — and to educate their businesses on identifying risk areas and evaluating internal controls,” he says. Moreover, Salvador anticipates an increase in continuous monitoring, allowing organizations to perform effective trend analyses and better predict changes in their business environments.
Drew Williams, CIA, CPA, CFE
29, Internal Audit Supervisor
Adding value to an organization through internal audit engagements is not the same as using those engagements simply to save clients some money. That’s a lesson Drew Williams has learned already in less than two years in the profession. “I want to recalibrate how we define value,” he says. “When I hear the word, my mind automatically goes into thinking I need to find that inefficient process that will save the company millions.” In reality, he’s discovered, “value” could be as simple as identifying redundant processes, highlighting a manual process that could be automated, or escalating an issue to the appropriate audience. Those are areas the University of Texas at Dallas graduate excels in, notes Sarah Garcia, senior manager, Internal Audit, at Raytheon. “His partnerships throughout the business gain him continued support during audit engagements,” she says, “and encourage other audit customers to collaborate with us.” He builds and strengthens those relationships in part through regular social outreach, she adds. Williams also effectively wields perhaps the ultimate value-add weapon: data analytics. “I enjoy the challenge of understanding raw data sets and identifying key fields,” he says, “then strategically developing criteria to analyze the data to draw meaningful conclusions.” Artificial intelligence and robotic software will increasingly assist auditors in managing massive amounts of data, he adds. “Internal audit needs to master these tools. Having facts and data to support a risk assessment — or even to facilitate a conversation — makes life a lot easier throughout the engagement.”
Jordan Gross, CIA, CPA
29, Senior Auditor
Fossil Group Inc.
In the future according to Jordan Gross, internal auditors will help map out corporate strategy, while computers will track and manage glitches in the system. “The line between a ‘financial’ and an ‘IT’ auditor continues to blur,” the University of Florida graduate says. He calls on all practitioners to understand the basics of IT systems and governance and how both general and application-level controls work. Auditors of tomorrow will also need to be more adaptable, he says. “The job will evolve away from traditional methods of planning and auditing toward a more continuous audit approach,” Gross predicts, “where analytics tools identify and investigate exceptions in close to real time.” With just five years of internal audit experience behind him, Gross is already familiar with the big picture. He’s Fossil’s global Sarbanes-Oxley compliance project manager, says Priscilla Perry, senior internal auditor there, and was recently tasked with bringing a formerly out-of-scope region into the Sarbanes-Oxley testing fold. “[The process] required him to manage the rollout for multiple foreign entities, ensuring controls were mapped appropriately and guidance was provided to new testers and process owners,” she says. Perry also notes that Gross is the Fossil data analytics lead, and that he regularly uses innovative thinking to do more with less in an increasingly resource constrained business climate. “I’d like to see internal audit involved much earlier in big strategic projects that affect the business, like a system rollout or a reorganization,” Gross adds. “Our ability to emphasize controls when building new processes could greatly reduce the number of issues later.”
Bill Stahl, CIA
28, Manager, Advisory Services
Bill Stahl focuses on continually enhancing his skill set for an important reason. “In the future, internal auditors must be more broadly versed in the business and be able to leverage technology to detect and monitor risk,” the Georgia Southern University graduate says. He notes that operational, business, strategic, compliance, and technology risks will continue to join financial risk on practitioners’ radar. Moreover, he says, tomorrow’s internal auditors will be required to leverage technology to deliver on-demand results to management. When Stahl uses advanced audit techniques with clients, it often results in the C-suite “changing its approach and seeing the internal audit team as a trusted advisor,” notes Steve Jackson, senior manager at EY in Atlanta. Clients often request Stahl by name, a rarity; that may be due in part to his honest approach on engagements. Stahl leads global, multiyear projects with teams scattered around the world, and he relies on his network of internal audit professionals for guidance from time to time. “Internal auditors often are required to audit areas of the business they may not have experience with or be as well-versed in,” he points out. “When I have experienced this, I immediately tap my network for the experience or subject matter expertise I need to deliver an accurate and complete audit. From my perspective, having a strong network of leaders and peers you can rely on is critical to being a successful practitioner.” He leverages the network of colleagues at The IIA’s Atlanta Chapter to expand his areas of expertise, too. The challenge to master more than one competency and to push the limits of the collective internal audit skill set invigorates him more today than when he started in the profession, he says.
Alissa Irgang, AMIIA, GDLP
29, Senior Manager
Australian Capital Territory
Alissa Irgang thinks big, and acts big. The Australian National University graduate has already served as national lead in Protiviti’s first global Project Management Office for a major project, reporting directly to the client executive in New York, notes Jenny Hollingworth, the firm’s corporate communications manager. She also notes Irgang’s achievement as an author: “Her thought leadership on corporate governance has been published in the Company and Securities Law Journal.” Moreover, she’s chair of IIA–Australia’s ACT Chapter Council, a post she used to create and launch the first IIA mentoring program in Australia, developing the charter and infrastructure and providing guidance for program participants. She’s since assisted other states in establishing and managing their own mentoring programs. “The hardest part was the start, because we’d never had anything like it before,” Irgang recalls. “Turning this idea in my head into a reality took a lot of time, research, and support.” She hopes the mentees learn that the profession is not just about following a defined audit process, stressing that internal auditors need to focus on purpose, not paperwork, and understand the value and objectives behind the audit. She also points out that the technology exists to power a new kind of internal audit practice, working broader, deeper, faster, and smarter. “Everything is changing, and the future is already here,” she adds. “To remain relevant, we need to evolve with it.”
Anne Davis, CIA
26, Risk and Financial Advisory Senior Consultant
Deloitte & Touche LLP
A marketing internship as part of the Wake Forest University Business and Enterprise Management program showed Anne Davis that her interests in business were actually more aligned with accounting and finance and, eventually, internal auditing. Now, when she’s not traveling for client projects, “she continues to seek opportunities to return to her alma mater, to promote the benefits of a career in the profession,” says Paul Lindow, internal audit partner at Deloitte. Davis is also a career coach for Deloitte’s summer interns, helping them acclimate to the firm’s culture and to the professional services industry. Lindow credits her involvement with enabling a more positive experience for the interns — and with helping them build the foundational skills necessary for a career in internal auditing. The most rewarding aspect? Davis says she truly enjoys sharing her knowledge and perspective about a profession she respects and enjoys, and she’s convinced more than a few interns that internal auditing can be challenging, rewarding, and interesting. Indeed, Davis’ work focuses on financial services clients, providing her with experience in anti-money laundering efforts and in Dodd-Frank Act supervisory stress testing and Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review, among other areas. “I’m also learning how to incorporate data analytics, robotics, and cognitive intelligence to execute audits in a more effective way,” she notes — streamlining processes and working with the first and second lines of defense to provide a value-driven outcome. That’s the kind of approach she says will help “propel the internal audit profession in the right direction and shift the sometimes negative perception of us as troubleshooters into one of trusted, independent partners.”
Matthew Suhovsky, CIA
29, Financial Services Risk Manager
Crowe Horwath LLP
For Matthew Suhovsky, relationships are key in internal audit. The California Lutheran University graduate says building them is critical to success in the profession. “This doesn’t happen immediately, but as trust is built and success has been achieved,” he says. Staying on the same engagements over time helps. “Clients don’t only know me as someone who works for Crowe, they know me as a person,” he adds. Suhovsky’s soft skills extend to co-workers, says Machelle Rinko, senior manager at Crowe. “He recruits and develops talented professionals,” she notes, “and builds a successful, dedicated, and motivated team.” He also mentors in the organization’s formal performance management program, and he seeks a more positive image of the profession. “Internal auditors are here to help mitigate risk and act as a partner and resource to businesses,” he stresses, “contrary to the perception of auditors aiming to get people in trouble.” He’s helping to change that perception through campus recruiting and speaking with students about the profession. He’s also looking to the future, and the changes it may bring to internal auditing. “Integrated audits allow business units to get a holistic view of their control environment,” he says. “Operational audits combined with technology audits can be a value-add to organizations, but they’ll require a complete transformation in the way we work.”
Nora Zeid Kelani, CIA
28, Group Internal Auditor
Nora Zeid Kelani combines technical audit skills, an ability to see the big picture, and a sharp focus on bringing more women into the profession. “It is a given that in the Middle East, internal audit is a male-dominated career, especially when travel is involved,” she says. “Women are discouraged from working in this profession and are often looked at as less professional.” She recalls an audit report writing course with 40 attendees — 39 men and her. That took courage, says Shafiq Nino, group internal audit manager at Nest Investments (Holdings) Ltd., who also cites Kelani’s work with the company’s Group Audit Automation project, which entails finding innovative ways of leading teams from a dozen subsidiaries in multiple geographies from a remote location. Nino also lauds Kelani’s commitment to education and to women’s rights, noting the time the Hashemite University graduate “had a positive influence on a Jordanian woman in her 30s, helping her pursue a college education with support and tutoring.” Kelani says it’s a matter of effort. “The more the internal audit community puts into changing the inherited mindset of male dominancy, the more women will join us,” she emphasizes. The profession needs more young members, too, Kelani says, urging internal auditors to be more proactive by communicating with college and high school students, offering free introductory workshops and Q&A sessions. And while she thinks more and more internal audit functions are adopting forward-looking practices, she notes further progress is needed. “If we want to be a 360-degree business-focused profession and not just a finance-related profession, we need to start being one — now.”
Joshua Wood, CIA, CPA, CFE
28, Internal Auditor III
Joshua Wood is an expert at data analytics. He leads training sessions for his audit department on analytics software and stays current by attending educational events. Rick Hamel, manager, Internal Audit, at Calpine Corp., notes that the Louisiana State University graduate has mastered creating and modifying ACL scripts “to perfect the query to deliver the correct results without numerous false positives.” Wood is learning how to transform and interpret data using other analytics software, too. “He understands that data analytics is a powerful tool in any audit,” Hamel says, noting that Wood has applied the technology to duplicate payments, payment cards, and payroll data. Wood’s contributions also include working with the company’s IT groups and business segments to extract data from the applications they use, and use of analytics to evaluate company time sheet compliance with state labor laws. He’s also a mentor to multiple interns on the job and is known for “solid planning, work management, and results,” Hamel notes. And while he’s firmly focused on current practice and technology, Wood also keeps an eye toward the future. “The availability and presentation of data is going to change internal audit,” he says. “Presenting analytical results through visualizations is our next frontier.”
Tiana Clewis, CIA, CPA, CFE
29, Founder and Coach
Selah Financial Coaching
It doesn’t have to say “Internal Auditor” on your business card for you to be an internal auditor. Tiana Clewis learned that as she recently transitioned from a senior staff auditor position with a large health system to a small business owner focused on financial coaching. Abosede Thompson, senior IT auditor at Baylor Scott & White Health, recalls that Clewis, in addition to volunteering at local IIA chapter meetings, often found innovative methods of addressing project-related challenges. Clewis, for example, took part in an 18-month project to streamline audit access to a third-party web application. The audit showed that too many former employees and contractors retained access to the app. But the audit process was so clunky that it could only be completed every couple of years, creating a significant IT security risk. Clewis was part of the team that undertook the complicated process of changing the app to single sign-on and designing a protocol that can shut down access within 48 hours. “It was a really long process,” she says, “but it significantly reduced the number of man-hours needed to audit user access.” Now the Howard University graduate — following six years in public accounting — shares her skills with nonpractitioners who need a leg up in their personal financial lives. “I have brought on some wonderful clients who have made great strides in a short time,” she reports. She’s also started taking on public speaking engagements and just wrote a book called The Tool Called Money. “I will always be an internal auditor,” she stresses. “It’s not a job; it really is part of who you are. If you’re always looking for ways to make things more compliant, more secure, and more efficient, you are an internal auditor at heart.” And while this mindset remains permanent, Clewis also points to the change and evolution of audit practice itself. Nobody just walks into a client’s office anymore with a list of check-the-box questions, she says. “It’s about digging into the process and procedures and stepping into the mind of the auditee.”
Jessica Minshew, CIA
29, Internal Auditor
The faculty at Georgia Southern University focused extensively on external audit when Jessica Minshew was a student there. “It was reluctant to even acknowledge the internal audit field,” she says. So The IIA’s Middle Georgia Chapter, under her leadership as president, recently launched a faculty certification sponsorship program that covers the cost of the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) exam, and training, for a business or IT faculty member at a local college, turning the newly minted CIAs into campus internal audit advocates. Minshew says her goal is to reach all the colleges and universities in the chapter’s footprint. She’d also like to see greater diversity in the profession and bemoans the commonness of overly similar staff backgrounds and stagnant ideas about the role of internal audit. “Bringing people into the department with different backgrounds and specialties, such as psychology or human resources, and strategically using them,” she says, “can build relationships with human resources, IT, and other business units that manage sensitive data.” Diversity also facilitates designing and performing audits of new and emerging areas — corporate culture, social engineering, or internal communications, for example — that may dominate in the future and help stave off irrelevance. “I believe the only way internal audit will outlive automation is to prove the value of nontraditional audits,” Minshew says.
Alex Rusate, CCSA, CPA
26, Senior Auditor, Financial Controls
Alex Rusate started preparing for a career even before selecting a college, setting his sights on the accounting profession. On campus, an internal audit internship helped steer him toward his current line of work. But he knows that many students don’t have that kind of exposure, so he used his time at Bentley University to help teach young people financial literacy. He created a program that taught accounting and finance to high school students — and exposed them to a wide variety of career options. “I thought that was the most rewarding part of the program,” he says, “because I could see students with genuine interest in internal auditing and forensic accounting.” Anthony Curto, a senior associate at KPMG, who’s known Rusate for the better part of a decade, adds that Rusate now helps his alma mater pair students with alumni as academic and professional mentors. On the job, Rusate sees a high-tech future where practitioners “audit smarter by leveraging data analytics and computer-aided audit tools” — and use their detailed understanding of the organization’s operations to add value. He’ll be ready. Recent accomplishments include conducting an analysis of a former employer’s revenue recognition process and control structure and aiding in whistleblower hotline allegation investigations there, too. He also conducted a full regulatory review of a former employer’s compliance with the U.S. Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
VIDEOS: See what practitioners recognized by Internal Auditor as this year’s Emerging Leaders like best about internal auditing.
This year’s Emerging Leaders judges see a group of young professionals who want to shake up the status quo, and who possess the background and skills to do so. These qualities should serve them well, as today’s practitioners face an audit environment where the status quo is crumbling, and where they’re increasingly called to advise on business priorities and emerging risks. To handle that responsibility and effectively partner with management, the judges note, the 2017 Emerging Leaders will have to stay on their toes, keeping informed on regulatory requirements, cybersecurity threats, industry-specific developments, reputational risks, and other key issues. Are they up to the challenge? The judges think so, and they should know. This year’s panel represents a variety of geographies, industries, and audit roles — and some are past Emerging Leaders honorees themselves.
Karen Brady, CIA, CRMA, corporate vice president of audit and chief compliance officer, Baptist Health South Florida; member, IIA North American and Global Boards of Directors
The “age of deregulation” will require tomorrow’s leaders to justify their department’s value. “This requires not only having the skills to become a valued business partner,” Brady says, “but also the finesse to demonstrate this value.” That, she adds, is going to make an already challenging profession even more so. But these young professionals have demonstrated strong multitasking skills. “The amount of time they dedicated to volunteerism, as well as their efforts in mentoring, was quite surprising considering the amount of time they dedicate to their full-time job,” she says.
Kayla Flanders, CIA, CRMA, senior audit manager, Pella Corp.; member, IIA Publications Advisory Committee
Today’s Emerging Leaders will not practice yesterday’s internal auditing, Flanders explains. “We no longer focus only on compliance and strict enforcement of policies,” she says. Flanders is optimistic about the group’s experiences in forward-looking areas such as data analytics, audit process improvement, and relationship building. That last skill, she says, is “crucial to the profession’s success.”
Thomas Luccock, CIA, CPA, director, Internal Audit, and senior advisor to the president (retired), Michigan State University; member, IIA Publications Advisory Committee
More of 2017’s Emerging Leaders are called “trusted advisors” by their nominators and peers than in years past, Luccock notes, and that represents the constant evolution of the profession. “The importance of breadth of knowledge and experience, as well as data analytic skills, is becoming paramount to effectively evaluating internal controls,” he says. “Today’s Emerging Leaders must be aware of the increasing need for cybersecurity controls and how to evaluate these.”
Anne Mercer, CIA, CFSA, CFE, vice president, Internal Audit (retired), Universal American; vice chair, Member Services, IIA North American Board of Directors; member, IIA Global Board
As a group, this year’s Emerging Leaders are well-prepared for the realities of modern internal auditing, Mercer observes. “They’re passionate about promoting the internal audit profession,” she says, “in part by working within their organizations to educate business owners on the collaborative role of the department.” That aligns well, she adds, with the mandate today for practitioners to add value to the organization while also highlighting their unique role compared to other compliance-oriented functions.
Maja Milosavljevic, CIA, senior group internal auditor, Sberbank Europe AG; 2015 Emerging Leader
In an internal audit environment that she characterizes as challenging, Milosavljevic says practitioners must “deal with new areas of auditing, such as corporate culture, and constantly develop their skills and knowledge.” Accordingly, one of the ways she finds the 2017 Emerging Leaders inspiring is that they see the importance of certification and strive to “distinguish themselves through this dimension of professionalism.”
Naohiro Mouri, CIA, chief auditor, AIG Japan; senior vice chair, professional practices, IIA Global Board of Directors
The way internal audit inspires 2017’s Emerging Leaders impresses Mouri, who notes as well the tender age at which many of them have realized it’s something of a calling — and the “strong sense of purpose” they show to positively influence others in the profession. They’re putting their proverbial money where their mouth is, too, he says, “demonstrating their competence to be trusted advisors in their organizations.”
Karem Toufic Obeid, CIA, CCSA, CRMA, chief audit executive, Tawazun Economic Council; vice chairman, global services, IIA Global Board of Directors
This year’s Emerging Leaders must be agile, Obeid notes, because a fast-changing environment demands that auditors’ skills rapidly evolve to align with stakeholders’ developing demands; that’s how they’ll achieve the best results. He has high hopes for these practitioners, calling them qualified, motivated, enthusiastic, and “highly involved in elevating and advocating internal audit.”
Marbelio Villatoro, CIA, internal audit integrated project manager, Raytheon Co.; 2015 Emerging Leader
2017’s Emerging Leaders have their work cut out for them, according to Villatoro. “They will be challenged with new risks the profession has never seen,” he says, “and their leadership will be critical in ensuring positive change can be created across industries.” The good news: These practitioners are well-rounded, and they’re genuinely committed to the profession’s growth. “They’re thought leaders who seek positive change,” he adds.