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​The Evolution of Talent Management

​As the organization evolves, so, too, should internal audit’s acquisition and retention strategies.

Sandy Pundmann
U.S. Internal Audit Leader 

Sam Aina
U.S. Internal Audit Leader for Technology, Media, and Telecommunications Industries

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​How should talent management strategies be evolving?

Pundmann Organizations are looking for consultative, critical-thinking advisors who understand all sides of the business — from strategy and finance to cybersecurity and culture risk management — for their internal audit teams. As organizations evolve, so do their talent strategies. We’re seeing more organizations using rotational or guest auditor programs to engage professionals with diverse areas of expertise outside of internal audit to help address the varied challenges that core internal audit work presents. Because of the variety of challenges internal auditors face, many leading organizations’ talent development strategies include internal audit as a key career development assignment. 

Aina Today’s business environment disruption is driven by technological advancements and generations that know technology and its rapid evolution as the norm. Talent management strategies need to demonstrate that the organization embraces, and is well-positioned to take advantage of, disruptive technologies. These strategies also need to evolve to a talent pool that thrives on change by providing a uniquely diverse set of experiences through opportunities within and outside the functions for which the talent was recruited. 

With the growing impact of digitalization, what new skills should CAEs be looking for in candidates?

Aina It depends on where chief audit executives (CAEs) see their organization and industry trending in terms of technology innovation and the associated regulations and risks that CAEs will need to audit. Though not new skills, adaptability, resilience, and innovation to facilitate change are critical for success. How have candidates demonstrated resilience amid change — system changes, policy changes, schedule/deadline changes, team changes, project changes, significant life changes, etc.? Have they driven change through innovation, not just by providing interesting findings and recommendations, but by improving the effectiveness of their own department? CAEs also should look for candidates with a broad understanding of business, with a consultative mindset. And, there is always an expectation that every function will do more with less through the use of technology. IT audit backgrounds are no longer restricted to traditional IT audit experience and information systems degrees. Rather, competence, skills, and experience in computer science/programming, data science and analytics, robotic process automation, cybersecurity, and privacy compliance are needed.

Pundmann We’re seeing increasing demand for internal audit teams staffed with people with a diverse set of skills and “purple people” who combine the “red” skills of sophisticated data analysis and architecture backgrounds with the “blue” skills of business acumen, design thought, and political sense. CAEs are looking for analytics and digital capabilities, along with critical thinking and business acumen, and Agile, collaboration, and problem-solving skills. 

What importance should be placed on internal audit certifications in identifying potential candidates?

Pundmann While internal audit certifications are a relevant part of the discussion for internal audit staffing, it’s key to look at the full team’s composition. If all or none of the team has an internal audit background, there’s a problem. But, if the team comprises a mix of people holding various certifications — Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) for internal audit skills, Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certification in Risk Management Assurance, and others — the team is likely well-positioned to help accomplish business objectives.

Aina I hold the CIA, CPA, and Certified Fraud Examiner certifications, but my experiences, skills, and relationships are even more important. CAEs should be thinking outside the internal audit box, because the world is progressively eliminating that box altogether. The right talent will pick up on internal audit methodology and standards and can readily gain the required experience to achieve an internal audit certification; however, innovation, adaptability, commitment, accountability, and leadership are far more challenging to develop.

How does the gig economy affect talent strategies?

Aina There’s a growing desire for greater flexibility in when and how people work, as evidenced by the gig economy. Coupled with the talent pool’s desire for diverse experiences, it’s another part of the disruptive business environment. Gig economy dynamics can manifest through more leaves of absence, flexible work arrangements, and turnover. CAEs should anticipate this and develop a methodology that adapts to these dynamics. They should embrace the gig economy impact by recruiting talent who can help them adjust their internal audit talent management approach to further explore, develop, and deploy strategies to engage and retain the current talent pool. Additionally, part of having a flexible internal audit team and talent management strategy should include strategic partners and trusted advisors who can promptly compensate for temporary or long-term skill gaps and manpower needs. 

Pundmann Internal audit groups use a mix of resourcing models to deliver their audit plans, and as specialization is in high demand, it’s easy to understand why. Eighty percent of the global CAEs Deloitte recently surveyed said specialists skills, which are a great use of a “gig” worker, drove their use of alternative resourcing models. For example, a full-time equivalent employee may not be needed for an environmental audit. Just-in-time resources, as the gig economy can provide, can help as expectations of internal audit become more complex.

What retention strategies can CAEs implement to make their departments attractive to potential applicants?

Pundmann Increasingly more professionals — younger generations, but also the more experienced among us — are purpose-driven and want to make an impact. Internal audit offers that opportunity with every project that looks at some aspect of the business, evaluates it, and recommends what should be done. Learning a business through varied work in an independent, but team-based, role that affords the opportunity to communicate with the organization’s leaders is attractive to those interested in making a difference. 

Aina Involving internal audit in facilitating change while embracing and adapting to emerging technology risks will always be key. CAEs should recognize and reward innovation in their departments. That can naturally facilitate diversification of experience for top talent to keep them engaged. Organizations can further diversify the experiences available through rotational programs within and outside internal audit. Nimble and flexible methodologies and work environments are also attractive to a talent pool that would rather not get boxed in. Finally, a family feel in the function, where the office isn’t just a job but rather a place where they feel at home, can go a long way in retaining personnel. Quality of life is a strategic talent influencer in today’s business environment. 

What are some best practices for developing existing team talent?

Aina On-the-job training and learning are far better retained and engrained than classroom and coaching. Therefore, rotational programs go beyond talent retention and into developing existing talent. Coordinating opportunities for existing talent to work with personnel in other functions who possess skills and competencies that internal audit lacks, enables them to bring back the knowledge to benefit internal audit. Additionally, CAEs should challenge existing team members with new projects and opportunities. 

Pundmann Leveraging Agile principles is great for developing existing team talent. CAEs build on new ways of engaging teams such that the team collectively has the knowledge, but the group iterates solutions and reflects on lessons learned after projects close. It helps develop critical-thinking skills. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have a robust training and development program to nurture the team, as well. If the organization is moving to the cloud or is pursuing another major change, internal audit needs training to get up to speed on it. 

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