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IIA and ISACA Leaders on Resilience Today and in the Long Term

Resiliency was the theme as the final day of the GRC Conference 2020 opened with the general session "In Conversation with The IIA and ISACA." Moderator Greg Grocholski, an audit and finance executive consultant, led the discussion between Bill Michalisin, executive vice president and chief operating officer at The IIA, and Nader Qaimari, chief learning officer at ISACA.

Grocholski asked the panelists to talk about remaining relevant to members since the onset of the pandemic. Both organizations quickly pivoted to execute and deliver seminars, conferences, training, and other events, as well as certification exams, in digital formats. They each also set up online COVID-19 resource centers to be responsive to industry needs and provide relevant content to help professionals, both members and nonmembers.

"During an economic downturn, people want to go back to school, they want to reskill. Those that become unemployed will look for new work and need new credentials," Qaimari explained. "So we worked with our vendor and moved to remote proctoring, which we feel now is more secure even than in person." 

Michalisin noted that The IIA led a similar charge, converting its exams to fully online proctoring in 17 languages. "Our approach has been to stay close to our members," he explained. He said polling and outreach to IIA members informed the transitioning of everything to a virtual model, even The IIA's provision of quality assessment reviews.

When asked what changes members are reporting, Qaimari said the biggest adjustment for the IT professionals surveyed by ISACA was helping their companies adjust to working from home. Executives also worried about declining revenue and changes in productivity.

Michalisin said The IIA's polling found internal auditors were experiencing reductions in discretionary spending and staffing. However, the biggest change was how internal auditors had to shift from established audit plans and assurance work to continuous risk assessments and advisory projects. "The tenacity and skill internal auditors bring to the table has been a silver lining," he said.

Looking toward the future, the panelists agreed that virtual events will not completely replace in-person ones, but that technology will play a critical role in business continuity. Peer-to-peer learning and networking remain key for professionals adjusting to the changing work environment, but virtual ways of connecting will augment in-person experiences.

The panelists discussed the future of their partnerships with other organizations and reminded attendees that continuing professional education (CPE) credits for The IIA and ISACA are reciprocal — credits earned with one organization also satisfy the requirements to maintain earned credentials with the other. Both organizations also seek opportunities and input regarding ways to ease and improve the CPE-earning experience of their members. — Lauressa Nelson

Closing Keynote: Embracing New Technologies in the Next Normal

The future is now and this rapid pace of change — which we are barely able to keep up with — is a call to action, Kimberly Ellison-Taylor said in the closing keynote address at GRC Conference 2020. Ellison-Taylor, global accounting director in the financial services group at Oracle, said she sees herself as a realist. In facing the future, people cannot be on the side of "no it will never work," but they also cannot be in a free fall. Importantly, people and privacy also have to be considered, she said. 

People have the opportunity to shape their futures and to leverage technology in a different way, she said. Companies need to think about how to operate more agilely and with adaptability. Customers, clients, and business partners are expecting companies to be agile and innovative. Stakeholders and shareholders are expecting companies to reengineer, to reimagine more resilience, and to think about the risks. All of this, Ellison-Taylor said, needs to be done at the same time.

Transformative technologies such as virtual intelligence, machine learning, and the internet of things already are changing the way companies operate. "We know that we are moving from one normal, to the next normal, to the next normal," she said. "And this time, there are technologies that are helping us to move along the way."

As businesses move into the new normal, the work of governance, risk, and control professionals will be needed more than ever, she said. They will need to be the voice of reason, asking, for example, whether infrastructure is in place or whether regulatory guidelines are being met.

Crucially, Ellison-Taylor emphasized the need to assist people whose jobs are going to be affected by technological changes, by helping them reimagine their work and shape their career. Technological change should be an opportunity to leverage the things that people can do best. "We totally have to think about this differently," she said. — Geoffrey Nordhoff

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