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​Building a Better Auditor: New Year, New Traditions

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Rachel Cain

Traditions. We are all accustomed to them and they are often fresh on our minds right after the holiday season. If I asked you to recall your favorite holiday tradition, I guarantee you'd have an answer for me. I'd also bet that if you asked your next-door neighbor, their favorite tradition would look quite different from yours. A close proximity but a vastly different set of traditions.

This is the beauty of tradition. They are sacred and no two are the same. To be honest, many of us are resistant to the idea of replacing our traditions with something new — or worse, with someone else's traditions. Why is it so hard to let go of a tradition? Letting go of traditions can seem impossible because we find comfort in what we have clung to for years. Or maybe the fear of losing what once was gets in the way of what could be. Sometimes the traditions we've carried for many years can even get in the way of creating a better future for ourselves and for later generations.

Collaborating for the Future

If 2021 taught us anything, it's that we are all masters of change. It was a year where we were all forced to pivot whether we liked it or not. If a global pandemic can make us pivot the way we work, the way we choose to be present, and the way we view the future, then maybe we can let something hopeful, like the start of a new year, do the same.

The internal audit profession is made up of everyday heroes like you — mothers and fathers, athletes, culinary connoisseurs, avid hikers, movie experts — the list goes on. Whether this is your first year in internal audit or you are a veteran practitioner, you offer a unique perspective and lens through which you see life. That is why it is crucial that you share your experiences with fellow internal auditors and work toward a better future, together. Although changing traditions and letting go of old processes can be challenging, the legacy of the internal audit profession is worth the risk of welcoming some change.

Starting Off Right in 2022

For your New Year's resolutions in 2022, I want to challenge you with two questions to ponder and a few ideas to start you off:

1. How do you want to leave your mark on the next generation of internal audit?

Find a younger internal auditor in your area or in your local chapter and commit to some level of mentorship with them. This could mean giving them your personal email address so they can ask you any questions they might have about the profession. You could also meet for lunch to discuss how you might support them on their internal audit journey.

If you don't have the time to mentor someone, but you do have financial resources available, you could consider sponsoring a student membership. This is a great way to connect students with internal audit professionals. As members, students have access to networking opportunities and potential job opportunities through their local chapter. Members and chapters can conduct outreach to students from traditional as well as nontraditional majors to allow for a more diversified student pipeline. Paying for the membership of a student who may not have the available funds helps build the profession for the future. Email academicrelations@theiia.org for more information on sponsoring student memberships, or reach out to chapterrelations@theiia.org for more information on your local chapter.

Another quick, yet powerful option is to communicate your internal audit story through social media. You could post a brief (up to one minute) video explaining why you chose to become an internal auditor and how you believe it's a key profession of the future.

2. Are there areas in your work where you have chosen to do things a certain way for the sake of tradition rather than the actual benefit it brings?

You can start small here: Make a list of three habits that you do because "we've always done it this way" even though you know there are more efficient or simpler methods. Challenge a colleague to do the same. Swap lists and collaborate together on how you can build a better future for your internal audit function.

The beauty of tradition isn't always in the tradition itself. It's often through legacy where tradition finds its meaning. The passing down from generation to generation. Although it is never easy to say goodbye to traditions or pivot our patterns of behavior, I challenge you to look at your role as an internal auditor in 2022 with a fresh perspective.

It might seem daunting to add another thing to your to-do list, but I will leave you with a quote from C.S. Lewis to prove to you it's worth it: "There are better things ahead than any we leave behind."


Rachel Cain is an associate manager of chapter engagement for The IIA and is based in North Carolina.

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