What are the key skills CAEs should be looking for in today's internal audit candidates?
Cangelosi As today's internal audit function evolves, so do the skills of those executing deliverables. While traditional audit technical skills remain critical, with IT and data analytic skills in increasing demand, nontechnical skills can really differentiate a great internal audit candidate from an average candidate. Today's internal audit function incorporates historical auditing and value preservation, as well as forward-looking vision and value creation. In line with these consultative objectives, successful internal auditors should have strong communication skills and be analytical and critical thinkers. They should be inquisitive and seek to understand root cause. And perhaps most important, they should be able to leverage teams to bring specialist knowledge and value partnerships within the business to achieve overall company objectives.
Fedele Although there are many key skills CAEs should look for in candidates, two categories immediately jump to mind. The first is updated technology skills, which are needed to better understand the risks associated with advanced technology use as with robotic process automation and algorithmic models within the organization. Internal auditors also need these skills to apply advanced analytics, intelligent automation, and data visualization to their own work. The second key attribute to look for is strong soft skills inclusive of critical thinking, communication, executive presence, team-building, leadership development, interviewing, storytelling, and the ability to foster more open and collaborative relationships with stakeholders.
How will the pandemic impact hiring processes going forward?
Fedele Hiring processes in a virtual world appear to be accelerated. Searching for new employment is easier without a peer looking over your shoulder, and scheduling interviews is quicker when you're able to jump from one video call to the next. With respect to geographies, I haven't seen much change in approach. Large organizations have historically hired without geographic limitations. The need to physically move for work seems delayed in the near-term, and it's uncertain if a move will eventually be required. With that said, an organization located in and serving a specific geography is typically focused on broader community impacts, focusing hiring efforts locally whether the team works virtually or not.
Cangelosi If there was ever any doubt, the pandemic has certainly proven that auditors can be successful working from home. As companies continue to evaluate what their future workforce model will look like, technology and digital advancements are fast-tracking like never before. The accessibility of data and information required to perform internal audit work has made geographic boundaries less of an issue, opening up the pool of candidates by casting wider nets. The unfortunate downsides in a work-from-home model include sacrificing the personal connection with business-unit owners, the risk of data protection and privacy violations, regulatory reporting and compliance issues, direct and indirect tax risks for the company, and, for those personnel working internationally, potential payroll tax and immigration issues.
How should CAEs approach diversity and inclusion in their hiring practices?
Cangelosi Ideally, diversity and inclusion are part of the corporate culture and supported by the organization's executive team and board. Understanding your diversity hiring data is important in evaluating where behaviors may need to change. The process from position description development and job postings, to interviews and candidate selection should be free from subconscious biases. Employees should be free to bring their whole selves to work, showing up authentically. Teams with a variety of diverse backgrounds bring multiple perspectives, resulting in creative and insightful innovation and meaningful analysis and decision-making.
Fedele Deloitte encourages CAEs to recruit from a variety of sources to attract candidates from a range of backgrounds and experiences, filling open positions with individuals able to help the broader team thrive through diversity of thought. Hiring practices are only the start, though, as it is key for the CAE to create a culture of inclusion. Without a culture of inclusion within the internal audit function and the broader organization, diversity efforts often fall short.
How should artificial intelligence (AI) fit into the hiring plan?
Fedele As AI continues to integrate into our work lives, we're starting to see internal audit "superjobs" that combine portions of the traditional internal audit role with support from smart machines, data, and algorithms. For example, if AI was developed to support an internal auditor superjob, it might perform first-level review of workpapers, review the final audit workpaper file for compliance with IIA Standards, or draft the final audit report from results in workpapers. As AI adoption expands in organizations and teams of those with superjobs unite, "superteams" are formed as groups of people and intelligent machines work in concert to solve problems, gain insights, and create value.
Cangelosi The technological advancements of AI can prompt one to ask whether we will really need human intelligence in the near future. The benefit of AI is that manual tasks can be replaced by machine learning, freeing up staff to focus their efforts on new opportunities. New opportunities will likely be a higher use of their skills, keeping employees motivated as they are now able to focus on strategic initiatives. While results from AI are remarkable, it is still humans who design AI technology and ensure quality review of resulting outputs.
How can CAEs invest in staff training to help build long-term organizational resilience?
Cangelosi Internal audit is focused on risk identification and mitigation, as well as effective and efficient operating processes. As tools and technologies change the way we audit, so must the skills and capabilities of those performing the work. Equally as important as technical skills is an in-depth understanding of the organization and how it operates. Many companies have successfully implemented rotation programs within their organizations, to provide internal auditors an opportunity to work on diverse initiatives in different roles, while enhancing skill sets. In some cases, these employees remain permanent members of the new department, allowing others in the internal audit group opportunities for advancement.
Fedele Giving current staff robust training, as well as incentives to pursue certifications relevant to internal auditors — including those focused on internal audit, risk management assurance, cybersecurity fundamentals, analytics, cloud, fraud, and project management — can permanently fill talent gaps while creating an environment of continuous learning and improvement. In better preparing internal audit and the organization for digital disruption, emerging risks, and evolving opportunities, everyone can grow and make positive changes.