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​There's No Off-switch for This Internal Auditor

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​If you are anything like me, your internal audit mindset doesn't have an off-switch. Lately, I've found that my internal audit mindset and my passion for internal audit have been in overdrive. I find myself thinking about governance, risks, controls, and operational enhancements in every aspect of my life.

In some cases, I feel as if my family and friends may get frustrated with me in terms of how this mindset of mine may impact their own lives. With this perspective, here are a few examples where my internal audit focus may become too much for those around me.

Example 1 — When friends share with me examples of the challenges they are encountering at work, my thoughts and questions immediately go to the governance structure of their organizations. I find myself asking questions along those lines, too. In some cases, they aren't looking for a solution from me; they just want to voice their frustrations.

Example 2 — Those of you who are regular readers of my blog know I have a five-year-old son who is in his first year of kindergarten this year. From double-checking every evening that he has everything in his book sack ready for school the next day, to reviewing the upcoming week's schedule in advance to ensure we are prepared for the week, to asking his teacher if he is on track for his age, my internal auditor mindset comes out.

I realize parents in any profession may approach their children's schooling the same way (I also realize there are some who may think we are doing too much for our kids). However, I believe my internal audit background makes me think about these daily activities in terms of preventive controls, detective controls, and process improvements.

Example 3 — Over the past weekend, I went to a college football game with my family. Although the weather forecast throughout the day showed very minimal chances for rain, I was prepared just in case. Just before leaving for the stadium, I checked the weather one last time, only to find out the chances for rain had increased. I packed ponchos, rain jackets, and hats for my family, all of which came in very handy as shortly into the game a steady rain started, which lasted through much of the game. As everyone else left the game to make their way out of the rain, we were able to continue watching because we were prepared for the risk of rain.

Example 4 — It doesn't matter what kind of store I visit, if there is a long line when I get ready to check out, my thoughts immediately go to the process improvements that would address the long queue. I find myself thinking about how I would approach my recommendations if I was an internal auditor for whatever establishment I may be visiting. To further illustrate this example, I've found myself at church identifying and communicating opportunities to improve the child drop-off process. While it isn't as much of an issue now that my child is five, when he was an infant, the process for drop off left a lot to be desired in terms of accurately matching the child to his or her parents, particularly for a church that is as large as this church.

I realize that many reading this post likely have their own examples of how their passion for internal audit carries over to their personal lives. I also know that sometimes internal auditors find it difficult to explain their jobs to their family and friends who are not familiar with internal audit. For any auditor who finds themselves in this position, I encourage you to use similar examples to illustrate how you provide value to your organization. After all, who hasn't encountered a long queue that they recognized could be addressed by more effective processes?

Do you have examples of how internal audit impacts your life outside of work? If so, I would love to hear about them.

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