Since 2013, Internal Auditor magazine has been showcasing emerging leaders in the profession. Those chosen for this distinction each year are the 30-and-under trailblazers who are shaping and growing the profession through innovation, technology skills, ingenuity, and hard work.
The IIA’s celebration of youthful talent in the profession could be short-lived without a thoughtful approach to recruiting and serving the needs and expectations of even younger potential members.
The IIA’s Internal Audit Education Partnership program supports development of internal audit curricula at participating colleges and universities. The program helps ensure graduates have the skills to conduct basic internal audits and prepares them to achieve the Certified Internal Auditor designation. However, it is not designed to inspire young people to become internal auditors.
The changing dynamics of modern business demand that we do more. Change is occurring at lightning speed, and disruption driven by technology is part of the new normal. The next generation of internal auditors must possess innately agile, curious, and innovative minds, and encouraging young people who exhibit such drive to consider a career in internal auditing begins at the high school level. The IIA’s new strategic plan speaks directly to addressing this.
Data from the 2020 Career Interest Survey by the National Society of High School Scholars suggest we have some work to do. It finds medicine and health-related careers (37%) the top choice of the more than 14,000 respondents. Another 17% chose business/corporate as an expected career path, which tied for second with sciences and biology/biotechnology. More traditional career paths for internal auditors — accounting/tax and finance/fintech — ranked considerably lower at 4%.
In the coming months, we will explore new and creative ways to reach Generation Z and will develop strategies, tactics, and resources to address our opportunity as a profession. This must include supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts at all levels. I’ve noted before that beyond being the right thing to do, supporting DEI is as much a business decision as an ethical one.
With the guidance and support of our North American chapters and affiliates around the world, we hope to soon reach out to high school guidance counselors or their equivalents to boost knowledge of the profession, dispel negative stereotypes, and encourage the best and brightest to consider internal auditing as a career.
As you read about the impressive group of emerging leaders featured in this issue, I hope you’ll join me in seeking new ways to mentor and nurture the next generation. The IIA understands this begins at the local level, and we will work diligently with our members to build a pipeline of future-ready auditors.