As a senior external auditor at Arthur Andersen, I had opportunities to perform a number of internal audit engagements. As Andersen was building its internal audit outsourcing practice, it frequently leveraged external audit staff to help perform fieldwork of internal audit engagements during the slower summer months. Even if I didn't truly grasp the differences between internal and external audit at that time, I enjoyed the work.
Most of my staff colleagues on internal audit engagements were like me, Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) looking to do something different and find our niche in a large firm. I hadn't met anyone who truly saw himself or herself as an internal auditor, or at least anyone who was proud to say it aloud. Still, I began to consider internal audit as a potential career path.
On a snowy morning in January 2000, I picked up my briefcase, made sure I had plenty of clean crisp copies of my resume, and left the Boston office of Arthur Andersen. I walked across the street, where I had a series of interviews for a position on the PwC internal audit services team.
That is the morning I first met the individual who had the greatest impact on my professional life and, to this day, is my most significant role model. Brian Kinney, like me, was a senior auditor. Unlike me, he was not a CPA. He was a Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) and incredibly proud of it.
Brian had joined PwC's internal audit practice (actually its predecessor firm Coopers and Lybrand) a few years earlier, after graduating from the University of Massachusetts–Lowell. On top of being unimaginably happy and energetic, Brian's enthusiasm for the internal audit profession was infectious. I almost couldn't believe that it was genuine.
A few weeks later, I joined the PwC team, and Brian became a colleague, peer, and friend. Over the approximately 18 months that we worked together, I realized that every bit of Brian's enthusiasm, energy, and passion for internal auditing was authentic and consistent.
Brian was also the nicest person that I've ever met, and he let his personality shine in his work. Every interaction had a personal touch that showed that he not only cared about the topic at hand, he cared about you. He cared about his clients and wanted them to succeed. In turn, the clients adored him, confided in him, and trusted him. This allowed him to be a better auditor and to better serve our newly shared profession.
In the summer of 2000, Brian was promoted to manager. A year later, I also was promoted, and I don't think anyone was more excited for me than Brian. He also was a passionate member of The IIA–Greater Boston Chapter board of directors and encouraged me to volunteer my time to The IIA.
Tragically, our relationship ended suddenly when Brian was killed in 2001. As his obituary stated, "He could have taken care of that California client by phone. But on Sept. 11, Mr. Kinney boarded United Airlines Flight 175 because he wanted to shake the client's hand and see how he was really doing." The plane he had boarded in Boston was hijacked and crashed into the World Trade Center in New York.
Each of us will remember that awful day 20 years ago in our own context. I choose to think about Brian. I feel the loss that hurt so much then and continues today. I also choose to remember the positive impact that he had on my life and career and the impact he had on others around him.
In the ensuing 20 years, I have had the fortune of rising in the profession, eventually serving as a chief audit executive for two outstanding organizations. I continued to volunteer for the profession that Brian introduced me to, serving in IIA leadership positions at the chapter, North American, and global levels. I now serve the profession full-time at IIA headquarters.
Over the past two decades, I have gotten to know many passionate and proud internal auditors. I have many mentors and roles models. However, none of them has had the lasting impact on me as the first one who, on that snowy day in 2000, announced to me in no uncertain terms, "I AM AN INTERNAL AUDITOR!"
I miss you, Brian. I am a better person because of the time we spent together. Internal auditing is a stronger profession because you were a part of it.
Harold Silverman, CIA, CRMA, QIAL, CPA, is director, Executive Membership at The IIA.
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