If I was asked about the reasons why I am passionate about the internal audit profession, I would list the many brilliant roles of the function such as changing inadequacy into precision and ineffectiveness into innovation. Being a catalyst of change and progress is at the root of the internal audit function. It is where the audit client's apprehension and anticipation about the potential change brought on by internal audit is transformed into confidence and a renewed passion for what the client does.
In addition, internal auditors are able to participate in all the different avenues of the business, whether it be core operational services or support services such as finance, procurement, human resources, and marketing. The transformative nature and variety of the function, which drive internal auditors onto a path of never-ending learning, are among its most attractive features.
All of the above can be taken, almost word by word, and applied to my second passion and career — scuba diving instruction! Through my work as a Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) Course Director, Emergency First Response Instructor Trainer, and PADI Freediving Instructor, I have the opportunity to see fear changed into courage and anticipation changed into passion. That instruction can completely change lives by helping people take their first breaths underwater.
According to the PADI:
"The rating of a PADI Course Director is the highest and most respected professional rating in recreational scuba diving. PADI Course Directors are PADI Master Instructors who have taken the next step and joined an elite group of instructor trainers. Course Directors teach PADI Instructor Development Courses and other instructor-level training, and thus are the scuba diving industry's most influential leaders and role models. This rating is the highest and most respected professional rating in recreational scuba diving."
Moreover, diving is a career that offers just about as much variety as the internal audit profession. With various specialized fields available, I have pursued professional levels such as deep diving, wreck diving, night diving, underwater archaeology, underwater crime scene investigations, and underwater photography. I have gone as far as participating in photography exhibitions and winning photography awards — and my students have done the same!
Ultimately, for both careers, the positive impact that we are able to create and maintain into a lasting effect is what takes root. While for internal audit, that would be the organizational improvements that we are able to sponsor into implementation, in diving that would be the environmental work. Spreading environmental awareness among my students by integrating it into their diving instruction as well as organizing underwater and beach clean-up events creates a positive impact.
To this effect, while pursuing my scuba diving instruction, I have partnered with Project AWARE, a nonprofit organization that works with volunteer scuba divers on several of its initiatives. Project AWARE supports divers acting in their own communities to protect the ocean, with a focus on implementing lasting change in two core areas: shark conservation and marine litter.
With that in mind, I became a 100% AWARE Partner, committing to make a donation for every student I certify. As a partner, I also participate in the organization's Adopt A Dive Site initiative, where I adopted two dive sites and committed to hold at least one monthly clean-up at each site. I report data from these clean-ups to support Project AWARE's efforts to create a change for the better for the environment.
While from the outside, internal auditing and scuba diving might appear to be polar opposites, being on the inside of both, I always feel that they are just about the same. The only difference is the setting and the outfits, from corporate offices to blue oceans and from formal suits to wetsuits.
Both fields list communication, teamwork, and continuous professional development as the most important attributes for their budding professionals, and both constantly pursue effective risk management and operational excellence. These are attributes that often have accelerated my growth, as I'm constantly learning new skills and information from one field that I am easily able to apply to the other.
Hassan Khayal, CIA, CRMA, CFE, is an internal audit professional based in the United Arab Emirates and a 2020 Internal Auditor Emerging Leader.
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