The IIA's incoming president and CEO, Anthony J. Pugliese, says he recognizes he's taking the helm of The Institute at a critical point in the evolution of the internal audit profession — and he's more than ready for the challenge.
"I am honored to assume leadership at The IIA at such an exciting time for the profession," he says. "Internal auditors are among the world's most trusted business advisors, and The IIA will continue to build on its strong foundation of leading the profession through a time of great challenges — and even greater opportunities."
Pugliese was named successor to longtime IIA leader Richard F. Chambers after a four-month search supported by executive search firm Korn Ferry. He was selected from among a diverse field of more than 50 candidates globally.
Jenitha John, chair of The IIA's Global Board of Directors, says Pugliese will bring "a fresh approach and mindset" to The Institute. "Given all that he has accomplished so far in his career, to say nothing of his enthusiasm for the profession, we are excited about what's in store for The IIA," she says.
Pugliese will take over The IIA at a time when many significant challenges face the profession, from ethical issues related to new technologies; and environmental, social, and governance developments; to talent disruption; and new wrinkles to third-party relationships stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It can be daunting to keep up with the pace of change we are seeing in the profession just from a pure guidance, legal, and technical perspective, and we haven't yet embraced all of these changes," Pugliese says. "Our obligation is to ensure members have the strong working knowledge and skills they need, and to understand how we upskill a learned profession at a faster rate than we're used to."
Despite the daunting environment, Pugliese says he can't wait to get started and plans to hit the ground running on March 8, his first official day. "I intend to listen to a lot," he says. "I want to understand what everyone — from staff, members, and volunteer leadership in our organization — sees in terms of strengths, opportunities, and where we need to change."
Pugliese brings with him 31 years of association management and audit experience. His career began at Deloitte, where he ultimately became responsible for audit, IT, and accounting services for financial services clients. From there, he served in various roles at the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), including chief operating officer and executive vice president of Membership, Technology, and Learning through a joint venture with the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants to combine both public and management accounting. Pugliese currently serves as president and CEO at the California Society of Certified Public Accountants (CalCPA), where he is responsible for both the strategic development and day-to-day operations of the country's largest state-based CPA association. Five times Accounting Today highlighted him as one of the "100 Most Influential People in Accounting."
Pugliese's deep understanding of technology and its important role in the future of internal auditing was one aspect of his background that stood out to The IIA's Search Committee, according to John.
"At both Deloitte and my first few years at the AICPA, I was very focused on accounting, auditing, and technical issues facing our overall profession," he says, adding he was responsible for responding to technical accounting and auditing questions emanating from the firm's U.S. audit practice. Pugliese also has spearheaded a number of digital transformation initiatives during his career.
Also of particular interest to the Search Committee was Pugliese's unique global perspective and role as an industry leader on the international stage, and his passion for lifelong learning and the evolution of education.
"Until my time at CalCPA, everything across my career had an international focus," Pugliese explains. This global perspective was something that he missed and what initially drew him to The IIA. "I wanted to have that global view and perspective that I had in all my other roles," he says. "And with this role in particular, the idea of thinking about the entire world as a platform for growth is exciting. I want to expand the internal audit profession and grow The IIA, so we can be of even greater service to members." And Pugliese knows how to do it. At AICPA and CalCPA, he drove membership growth to their highest levels in the history of both organizations.
Pugliese says he wants to address diversity within internal auditing, as well. "We need to deepen our understanding of all parts of our pipeline of future CIAs — from those who entered the profession and became successful as well as those who entered and left — and understand why we have a diversity problem. Other 'learned professions' like physicians, engineers, and lawyers don't have the same issues. Why not? What are they doing right that we're not?"
Exploring new opportunities for mentoring the next generation is a personal passion of Pugliese's, and it is one he hopes to carry to The IIA. In his off time, he enjoys working to mentor college students and young professionals. "There's got to be something missing that is not giving people from a young age an accurate depiction of what we look like and the huge opportunity being a member of our profession brings," he explains. "We have to start early, at the high school and early college level, to ensure that stereotypes about the profession are addressed and the opportunities are put front and center."
To do so, Pugliese explains, means placing a greater emphasis on teaching; educating members; having high visibility and accessibility with members, staff, press, and government agencies; and presenting the general public with a perception of the profession that corrects long-established stereotypes and ensures continuing relevancy of the profession. "Internal audit should assume the mantle as the team you can't live without, especially in today's rapidly evolving business environment," he says.
Pugliese himself doesn't easily fit into such stereotypes. In his spare time, he is an avid reader and maintains a daily running routine, and enjoys being active outside with his family.
A native of Florida and graduate of the University of North Florida, Pugliese says he's excited to move with his family — husband Greg, son Jonathan, and twin daughters Brooke and Chloe — back to the state. Much of his extended family resides a short distance from The IIA's Lake Mary-based headquarters. "Being so close to family is an unexpected benefit."