This year’s Emerging Leaders have been forged by a fire their predecessors could never have imagined — but one that will change, in profound ways, how the profession is practiced and how its practitioners fit into their organizations’ strategic planning and operations efforts. Some of the professionals profiled here did their part by masking, distancing, and working from home. Others participated along with top executives in plotting their companies’ responses to COVID-19 and in assessing the effectiveness of chosen interventions; now they’re making sure they all continue as planned. Their careers, all of the Emerging Leaders agree, will involve more geographic flexibility, smoother access to decision-makers, and in many cases, greater focus on the soft skills required for integration into more and more aspects of their organizations. They also will include greater attention to the technology that’s changing practitioners’ connectivity and revolutionizing internal audit processes. Even in a work-from-home environment, 2021’s Emerging Leaders led and assisted in remarkable reconfigurations of their organizations’ information technologies to improve the accuracy and stakeholder understanding of their audit results. They also led and assisted in massive individual audit projects to assess company leadership, switch to new audit tools, and integrate an acquisition’s audit processes. In other words, they did what internal audit leaders usually do — even though they had to do it from afar.
Leonardo Ferguson, CIA, CRMA
30, Supervisor, Internal Audit
Colina Holdings Bahamas Ltd.
Leonardo Ferguson likes reporting results to audit clients better than he anticipated. “I began my professional career in public accounting, and my charted course did not include internal audit,” the Tuskegee University graduate says. Now Ferguson finds it rewarding to engage and collaborate directly with stakeholders and deliver reports that meet their expressed needs. Indeed, Ferguson says one aspect of the profession he would change is enhancing its collaboration with other assurance providers, both internal and external. “Primarily, we all have similar goals,” he says, “and by fostering synergies and aligning our focus, we can be even more impactful to the organization.” A key project Ferguson worked on involved assessing his company’s board as part of a governance, legal, and corporate audit engagement, reports his supervisor, Giorgina Duncanson-Thompson, chief group internal auditor at Colina Holdings. He designed procedures to assess the board’s composition, finding best practices through research that would benefit the company’s strategic plan and direction. The lesson, Ferguson says: “Our true value to the company doesn’t lie in performing tasks, but in understanding the overall objective and delivering recommendations that are well-received.” Duncanson-Thompson adds that in reviewing inactive and dormant accounts at the organization, Ferguson worked with management to develop system-enhanced solutions to reduce the need for manual intervention. “His work highlighted areas for improvement with regulatory reporting, and his recommended solution directly addressed management’s concerns,” Duncanson-Thompson says. Ferguson pays it forward by mentoring university students, and one notable mentee merged passions for information systems and internal audit after hearing about the rewarding career path the latter offers. The student is now a Certified Information Systems Auditor and looks to become a Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) as well. Ferguson also volunteers for #HashtagLunchbag, a charity that provides free meals to the community, and has worked on projects for the Bahamian conservation charity National Trust. In his free time, he focuses on landscape and event photography, travel, and quality time with family and friends.
Nicole O'Bryant, CIA
28, Consulting Manager, Internal Audit
Postlethwaite & Nettervile
Baton Rouge, La.
Nicole O’Bryant had six months under her belt at her current company when COVID-19 forced everyone to work remotely. As the pandemic unfolded, says colleague Jude Viator, consulting associate director at Postlethwaite & Netterville, O’Bryant “saw an opportunity and took the initiative to request, obtain, and analyze team feedback to reimagine team connection points and ongoing meetings.” The Control and Risk team’s 30-plus members, scattered across multiple locations, had remained productive, he says, but connections were becoming stale. O’Bryant refocused the connection environment, Viator adds, leading to a highly successful new meeting format. “While working from home during the pandemic, our team members have strived to stay engaged with one another to maintain our positive firm culture,” O’Bryant says, “for each other and for new team members.” Long-term, she anticipates the need for practitioners to leverage technology even more extensively to facilitate client engagements and interaction. The challenge will be continuing to discover ways to connect beyond the video screen. “Connection will be key in delivering our continued value-added services to the organization,” she says. O’Bryant will be fostering additional connections, within the profession, in her role as vice president of programming at IIA–Baton Rouge; her work there facilitates engagement with other internal audit professionals, she notes, and helps her better understand “the challenges and strengths they encounter in their daily work.” That understanding has served O’Bryant well as she helps her company rethink local intern learning through a refresh of its summer internship program. Beyond the profession, O’Bryant volunteers with her college sorority, Chi Omega at Louisiana State University. Free time is spent with Jake and Theo — husband and goldendoodle, respectively — traveling to see relatives throughout Louisiana and Texas. Post-pandemic plans include a honeymoon on Italy’s Amalfi Coast.
30, Vice President, Audit Manager
Truist Financial Corp.
Christy Beers aced her first internal audit competition. Her student team won at IIA–Atlanta’s 2015 Internal Audit Case Competition — and she received her first internal audit job offer on the spot. She accepted and has been with the firm ever since. In 2019, notes colleague Megan Beeston Panella, IT audit manager, Business Advisory Services, at Rausch Advisory Services, and a 2019 Emerging Leader, Beers became the first Audit Case winner to later judge for the competition; this year, she chairs the chapter’s virtual, renamed 11th Annual Bill Mulcahy Auditing & Advisory Case Competition. She’s been involved with planning, panel discussions, and leadership for numerous chapter events, and in 2018 she received IIA–Atlanta’s Mulcahy Leadership Award. “Through my involvement in chapter activities, I’ve met mentors who have helped me achieve my career goals,” says Beers, who’s pursuing the CIA credential. Those mentoring lessons were tested by COVID-19, of course. “She handled the ultimate audit double dip — a large company merger while managing the changes that come with remote work during the pandemic,” said colleague and longtime IIA volunteer Bill Mulcahy, who sadly passed away in May. “She adapted her work style to make sure audit objectives were met.” Mulcahy, Beers comments, was one of her biggest advocates. “He saw potential in me that I didn’t even see,” she says. “I’m grateful for having known him. I wouldn’t be where I am today without his mentorship.” After office hours, Beers spends time outdoors and enjoys running, walking, and hiking. She’s also been dancing since she was 4: “It’s a great way to work out and be creative — and have fun in the process.”
Maureen Cooper, CIA
29, Senior Manager, Technology Audit
Maureen Cooper’s status as an Agile expert at her company began with a third party’s test run. “A client was starting on its Agile audit journey and asked us to partner on executing a couple of pilot audits,” the University of Oklahoma graduate says. The Agile approach emphasizes enhanced flexibility and greater engagement with stakeholders. In 2018, Cooper was tasked by executives with helping to develop “Next-gen Agile Audit” materials for the company, reports Andrew Struthers-Kennedy, a managing director at Protiviti. Cooper has since led external-facing webinars, conducted virtual and internal self-study training, and contributed to educational blog posts on the topic, Struthers-Kennedy says. “She regularly interviews clients on their Agile audit journeys to provide consulting advice tailored to their size, risk profile, and complexity,” he adds. As the company’s Next-gen Agile Audit practice has grown, Cooper has joined the project management office leadership team, including bringing in a junior colleague to mentor. More broadly, she focuses on technology audits and general controls and cybersecurity across financial services, consumer products, and manufacturing sectors. From April 2020 to March 2021, she helped lead a global strategic initiative to innovate control testing services using emerging technology and alternative delivery models. She and two colleagues defined, established, and piloted the company’s Control Testing & Innovation Center, leveraging a standardized approach to increase the effectiveness of 70-plus controls. At her previous Protiviti post, in Chicago, Cooper led a wide range of local community service activities, including toy and book drives, gift bag events, and sponsored activities in support of nonprofits. Spare time is spent with “a very busy toddler,” her husband, and their dog, Murphy.
Andrew Goodman, CIA, CPA
29, Manager, Medicare Compliance-Continuous Monitoring
Andrew Goodman started his career in public accounting before transitioning into internal auditing. “I did not realize that I would be able to interact with senior business leaders almost immediately,” the Bentley University graduate says now of his audit work. “That’s an opportunity few other early-career roles provide.” After five years in the profession, Goodman recently transitioned again — this time to Medicare compliance. He stresses that the skills he developed in internal audit prepared him to take on the new role. His stint in the profession included innovating an approach to auditing Medicaid processes following the $69 billion 2018 merger of Aetna, where he started in 2016, and CVS Health, where he still is, and the integration of the two companies’ internal audit departments. He and his team reviewed Medicaid contracts and identified the controls in place to ensure compliance with specific contract requirements, explains colleague Alex Rusate, senior internal auditor at the New York Independent System Operator and a 2017 Emerging Leader. “Where any gaps existed, they identified those and worked with their business partners to agree on sufficient corrective action — an approach to Medicaid that the internal audit department had never taken before,” Rusate says. Goodman’s time in internal audit also included providing key support services as the COVID-19 threat began to grow, validating the effective implementation of some of the company’s pandemic-related policy changes. Long-term, he says, internal auditors will continue to become more adaptable as circumstances change due to the pandemic. And they will embrace “the new environment of working with colleagues and business partners remotely rather than in person.”
Than Nguyen, CIA
28, Internal Audit Manager
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Than Nguyen sees the silver lining: COVID-19 has changed the business environment, he says; it has created unique challenges that demand “new ways of working.” But the pandemic has also offered opportunities to explore ways to provide more value to the organization as agents of change, he adds, by sharpening the profession’s focus on consulting activities that identify improvement options, embrace innovation, and contribute to sustainable growth. “The pandemic will accelerate internal audit’s transformation journey in Vietnam toward best practices that will improve efficiency and effectiveness,” he says. Nguyen has led numerous successful transformation projects for financial institution and corporation clients, says colleague Thao Tran, internal audit assistant manager at Yamaha Vietnam, who adds that the Academy of Finance Vietnam graduate always “takes into account the nature of each business to come up with the best practical solution.” He says Nguyen also actively seeks opportunities to be part of the global IIA community. Indeed, Nguyen was chosen to be an IIA Global Professional Knowledge Group member as a subject matter expert, Tran adds, “exposing him to many different views, opinions, and skills.” Colleague Phuong Tran, a lecturer at Professional Training and Consultancy Company Ltd., notes: “Of course, there is no specific recipe, but I think that he simply always tries to find better strategies — he works hard, reads a lot, and thinks carefully before he carries out any task.” Nguyen recently participated in the SeABank Run for the Future and the BBGV Charity Fun Run, both fundraisers. In his spare time, he networks with friends and colleagues, and enjoys reading, watching news, traveling, and hiking.
Jennifer Anderson, CIA
30, Senior Internal Auditor, International Ports & Terminals
United Arab Emirates
Jennifer Anderson spends much of her time in the air. “I do a lot of aerial acrobatics, such as aerial silks, hoop, and trapeze,” the University of Glasgow graduate says of her free time. She has performed in circus shows and is now choreographing a routine for a virtual aerial competition. On the job, she’s in the air a lot too, spending about half of her time traveling internationally to audit DP World’s International Ports & Terminals portfolio. Her company specializes in cargo logistics and port terminal operations, and in one recent three-month spell, business took her to the U.K., Egypt, and Ukraine. When she’s on the ground, Anderson coordinates the Group Internal Audit flagship Guest Internal Auditor Program, which invites employees from all over the world to join the headquarters team on internal audits. Anderson also is helping establish Group Internal Audit’s Future Internal Auditor framework, an in-house development effort aimed at future-proofing the internal audit team, ensuring it stays relevant. And she enhanced her team’s capacity to deliver value by working with her company’s Human Capital department to develop an assessment tool enabling Group Internal Audit senior leaders to gauge their direct reports’ competencies and address any training needs. Moreover, the ground and the air are the focus of Anderson’s zeal for corporate sustainability — she incorporates elements of sustainability in all of her audit reports. “As auditors, we are in a valuable position to influence organizations to recognize the importance of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) elements,” she explains. Using audit practices and reports as a platform, Anderson notes, she can highlight those elements, which encourages the rest of the audit team to take ownership, too. “We can really enrich the operating environment with our unique perspective and capabilities — recognizing the importance of ESG elements is a crucial priority,” she says. Anderson also participates in the DP World Youth Council, which seeks to give youth a voice, empower them, and engage their thoughts.
Andrew Sherman, CPA
24, Advisory Senior Consultant, Assurance and Internal Audit
Deloitte & Touche LLP
Andrew Sherman’s dual degrees in accounting and business intelligence/data analytics provide an uncommon perspective on internal audit, risk advisories, and business scenarios. “He’s always challenging his core business background and traditional competencies with new concepts, tools, and methodologies in data analytics,” says co-worker Sarah Fedele, U.S. internal audit lead at Deloitte, “including statistical analysis, data visualization, Agile methodologies, and cybersecurity.” That’s part of the reason Sherman was promoted to his current post earlier this year, and he’s enthusiastic about the vantage point his role affords. “Internal audit provides an opportunity to interact with all levels of management across multiple functions,” he notes, “allowing me to identify and advise on issues that affect more than one function or process area.” He mentors new analysts on communicating with clients and team members in the remote virtual world, Fedele adds. Sherman says he hopes “internal auditors’ success at working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic expands the talent pool of exceptional individuals who live and work outside more traditional commute ranges.” He also helped plan and design the Internal Audit Foundation’s Premier Research Study 2020: Assessing Competencies in Internal Audit. The Creighton University graduate, who’s pursuing the CIA credential, was “pivotal in extracting insights via data analysis and visualization and in writing the final research paper,” Fedele notes. The results aim to provide valuable and measured information that depicts competency across the profession in a meaningful way. Sherman ran the Chicago Marathon in 2019, fundraising for WorldVision’s global clean water-supplying efforts, and when local COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, he plans to get involved in local Endure2Cure cancer support programs. In his free time, he enjoys golfing, running, indoor rock climbing, and playing video games.
Mercedes Washington, CIA, CFE CCSK
30, Internal Audit, Auditor I
Before her career in auditing began, Mercedes Washington learned how her company works. Starting with a bachelor’s degree in business management, the University of South Florida graduate “gained firsthand understanding of the equipment and software applications that support the company’s global business,” reports Kevin Alvero, senior vice president, Internal Audit, Compliance, and Governance, at Nielsen. She was promoted to project manager, working with stakeholders on implementing new measurement technology. Now, Alvero notes, she audits technology projects for process quality and standards compliance. “I love the granularity of internal auditing,” Washington says. “I thought it would be difficult to grasp the ins and outs of a company so large, but it has furthered my love of being in the weeds. Delving deep into the organization to fully understand processes and detect possible risk points is right up my alley.” Alvero adds that Washington created a streamlined process for internal audit’s walk-throughs — a standardized, digital data collection method that “eliminates the need for multiple back-and-forth emails and follow-ups with external auditors.” He says she also uses leadership of her professional development and growth “community of practice” at Nielsen as a platform for sharing insights on the internal audit profession with peers in other departments, and she’s active in business resource groups that help sustain active Black leadership and promote diversity. Washington is also working on adding a CIA and an MBA after her name. In her free time, Washington enjoys Brazilian jiujitsu, tumbling, indoor rock climbing, and 5K runs, and says she can “spend hours visiting model homes for decorating ideas.”
28, Audit Manager, Controlled Substance Expert and Opioid Rx Product Specialist
Crowe Healthcare Risk Consulting LLC
Brooke Schaefer never saw herself fitting into a professional box. “Instead of working on a wide variety of audits in the health-care sector,” reports her career coach, Tamara Mattox, audit senior manager at Crowe LLP, “she helped develop a specialized controlled substance pharmacy team and is now a subject matter expert.” The specialty: investigating drug diversion, which the U.S. Council of State Governments calls “the deflection of prescription drugs from medical sources into the illegal market.” Schaefer, who’s pursuing the CIA credential, says she expected her work to be high stakes, but adds: “I never anticipated being in a position that allowed me to have such an impact on society.” Working with pharmacy clients revealed all the manual processes in place to mitigate opioid prescribing and diversion risks, Schaefer explains, so her team built software to eliminate them — it analyzes prescribing data and uses proprietary complex algorithms to identify even the savviest of attempted crooks. The project was Schaefer’s introduction to software programming. “Internal auditors can be disrupters in the industry,” the graduate of both Maryville University and William Woods University says. “It’s pretty remarkable what we have been able to accomplish.” She’s also part of what Mattox calls a small, select group of auditors on an internal professional growth team tasked with “looking outside the box for supporting individuals on their internal audit career paths.” When the pandemic started to take its toll, controlled substances projects no longer could include travel to client sites — but the internal audit team could not postpone its work. Schaefer used virtual meetings and telehealth systems for virtual walk-throughs so business could continue. Outside of work, Schaefer volunteer fundraises for her community’s pool and park; she also loves spending quality time with family.
28, Senior Manager, Global Regulatory Compliance Audit
Royal Bank of Canada
Sabrina Mongrain always wants to know the “why?” behind processes, controls, and risks; she regularly queries co-workers in the business to understand their problems and ensure internal audit’s alignment with their strategies. “She works to solution alongside the business, rather than solution at it, to ensure stakeholder buy-in and partnership,” says former manager-once-removed Sara Gelgor, chief compliance officer at Concentra. Indeed, Mongrain says the best part of internal audit is understanding processes end-to-end. “We are collaborators with the business on processes,” the Laurentian University graduate says, “not just reviewers after processes are in place.” She shared her forward-thinking ideas at a credit union group’s internal audit roundtable in 2020, encouraging attendees to challenge standard audit regimes. And at a former employer, Mongrain helped reengineer the regulatory compliance risk assessment process. She also implemented new technology for the audit team there that reduces the risk of missing audit observations, and she created a more analytical, numbers- and percentages-based audit format to identify areas of concern for senior management and the board. “I work to be as transparent and collaborative as possible,” says Mongrain, who’s pursuing a CIA. “Keeping secrets from the stakeholder in the engagement does not benefit anyone. That has certainly taken the ‘policing’ out of my style of auditing.” Beyond her audit work, Mongrain is a volunteer board member at Rituals for Recovery, an Ontario nonprofit that assists with trauma recovery, and a March of Dimes volunteer who “chats with folks who have been shut in through the pandemic to help uplift their days.” She also knits and crochets.
Holly Saville, CIA, CPA
27, Finance Manager, Commerce Finance
When COVID-19 started to disrupt every aspect of commerce, Holly Saville “proactively answered the new challenge of remote work by developing a team website,” says former supervisor Brian Salvador, director, Controls and Compliance, at NAES Corp. and a 2017 Emerging Leader. Saville, a University of Kansas graduate, explains that with Microsoft operating remotely since March 2020, she saw the need to foster digital collaboration. “I improved my team’s online documentation, including creation of a collaborative onboarding portal and team intranet site,” she says, “to centralize resources and facilitate the entirely remote onboarding of 15 new teammates.” Salvador notes that the website created “clarity and camaraderie,” adding that the guidance in it provided significant value to the onboarding process. She now supports a multibillion-dollar online financial platform, focusing on order-to-cash processes, to ensure accurate accounting and financial reporting. Day to day, she autonomously and directly supports management in developing complex and innovative solutions, which requires deep understanding of the company’s intricate systems to design and execute end-to-end processes and controls. Expertise in risk assessment and control improvement is a must, Salvador notes, because Saville “leads initiatives to drive process improvement across engineering, compliance, and finance.” Interestingly, risk management, now her favorite part of internal audit, seemed dense and abstract in academia, Saville says, adding that real-life practice has proved it to be “an area of immense impact.” Saville volunteers as a guest speaker at Seattle University and participates in alumni panels at the University of Kansas. She also is a member of a United Way committee at Microsoft that supports charity events, encouraging community engagement across her team; and she organized a volunteering program at a care home in a community struggling with homelessness and mental health issues. In her free time, Saville enjoys scuba diving and international travel.
Clement Osei Agyemang, CFE, CISA, CFIP, CCA
Global Independent Oversight Experts
Clement Osei Agyemang aims high. At one former employer, he made history. “I was the first person to properly set up an internal audit department among the company’s branches in Africa,” the University of Professional Studies, Accra, graduate says. While there, Agyemang established the Officer of Integrity award program to promote integrity among the entire staff, reports colleague Eric Odobai, manager at IIA–Ghana. The aim, he adds, was to “offset destructive behaviors with incompatible productive ones.” At another former company, Agyemang’s audit plan included assessing and advising on management interventions to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, among other approved audit activities. “He is great at coming up with new ideas,” Odobai adds. “He is a hope for the future of internal audit.” Now, Agyemang devotes his time and energy to a nonprofit organization he founded in 2020 to continue the internal audit services volunteering he’s been engaged in since he was in college, Odobai notes. Global Independent Oversight Experts provides free oversight services for businesses that can’t afford them, Agyemang says, but that need such services to survive the pandemic. “I believe there are a lot of organizations out there that need the services of highly objective, candid, and trustworthy people like myself to give them honest answers and solutions,” he adds. Internal audit’s assurance and consulting activities have improved the conditions of many companies, he says, adding: “If I could, I would make internal audit a global compulsory function in the corporate world, either in-house or outsourced.” Agyemang, who’s pursuing the CIA designation, also serves as a member of IIA–Ghana’s Certification and Professional Development Committee.
25, Risk Advisory Services, Associate II
Angie Mauga has combined academia and The IIA for much of her adult life. As a student at the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD), she was president of the school’s Center for Internal Auditing Excellence (CIAE) Student Chapter, notes center director Joseph Mauriello. And at 2018’s Internal Audit Education Partnership (IAEP) Student Exchange, he adds, Mauga conducted a 45-minute one-on-one interview with Naohiro Mouri, The IIA’s global board chair at the time, in front of more than 300 attendees — several of whom she later mentored. Mauga was also a student liaison for the IIA–Dallas
Super Conference and annual UTD Fraud Summit from 2016 to 2020, helping coordinate student volunteer groups to facilitate conference activities. As a graduate and professional, Mauriello says, Mauga — who’s working toward obtaining the CIA credential — still contributes to the success of the CIAE. “She used her experience as a student in IAEP courses to fine-tune the coaching methods used to facilitate student projects and papers,” he explains. “Her one-on-one coaching techniques, for which she pulled from her own experience as an internal audit student, resonated with her peers.” Mauga says: “My work with students has helped me develop my internal audit knowledge and improve my soft skills.” As a college student, she adds, she generally worked independently. “Now that I have started my career in internal audit, I have realized I enjoy the amount of collaboration this career requires,” she says. Mauga also volunteers at a local food bank, and in her free time she’s been learning to shoot skeet and “going on food adventures around Texas” with her husband.
Gillian Wayne, CIA
29, Vice President, Audit Supervisor
Bank of America
Gillian Wayne wanted to be a banker since she was 4; her parents fashioned a pretend drive-through ATM and used their real Bank of America deposit slips to complete transactions with her. In 2013, she lived that dream by interning in the audit department at Bank of America’s corporate office. “Internal audit has provided me a vantage point of the organization that few experience,” the Florida State University graduate says. “Practitioners work with people across the organization, at all levels, allowing us to appreciate interdependencies and what is truly important to the business.” Wayne joined the company’s central strategy team in 2019, adds manager Janet Jarnagin, senior vice president, audit director, at Bank of America, and now focuses on executive reporting, including creating reports and dashboards that summarize audit results, issue trends, and control environment indicators. In fact, she’s created new reporting to better highlight audit results and trends. Jarnagin points to one example: A section of the quarterly board report had a text-heavy narrative format. “She brought in more quantitative data points to provide a more holistic view of each segment’s control environment,” Jarnagin says. The process involved streamlining the text and reducing the risk of errors. “I carved out some time to experiment,” Wayne adds, “then pitched the redesign to senior leadership in my team.” Wayne also made time for volunteer work through her company, organizing a tree-planting event that spanned three metropolitan areas — Charlotte, N.C., New York, and Chicago. Free time no longer exists for Wayne, who’s focused on planning a Nov. 7 wedding and remodeling her home.