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Passion for the Profession

Enthusiasm is key to the success of the audit department, the organization, and one’s own career.

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The internal audit profession is in a constant state of change. Audit schedules, work plans, and methods used last year, or even last month, may not work this time around. In fact, I recently adopted as my audit motto a quote from U.S. freestyle skier David Wise, a gold medalist at the 2014 Winter Olympics: “What won last year won’t win this year.” We need to challenge our routines and allow for new approaches, even nontraditional approaches, when planning and conducting audits. Staying passionate about improvement moves us forward, propels our professional growth, and puts us in a position of respect within our organizations. Yet many internal auditors perform their work with only a moderate level of commitment, content with merely going through the motions, which can be harmful in many ways.

Perhaps most importantly, practitioner apathy may compromise our ability to deliver value to the organization, causing us to overlook fraud, risks, and potential improvements. This can cost our organizations time, money, and even their reputation, when instead we should be working to improve and preserve these resources. We need to continually assess the quality of the services we provide and ensure we’re delivering results.

Over time, failing to maintain a passion for improvement can also damage the department’s reputation. If we simply check boxes and follow the same routines, and then fail to help enhance organizational performance or add value, we put the department at risk. When we stop serving the organization effectively, we will be escorted to the door, and a new team will be asked to replace us.

On an individual level, stagnant, complacent auditors also risk jeopardizing their own careers. When we lose our passion for auditing, we are less inclined to keep up with training on new risks, techniques, and audit methods, or to seek relevant certifications. Complacency opens the door for another, more passionate auditor to take our position. Being unwilling to change and drive improvement could also invite resentment from other staff members, potentially affecting our ability to advance within the organization, or elsewhere. Someone with more passion will come along, and they will get the opportunity, promotion, or job.

We need to become passionate agents of change. When we strive to help our organizations develop stronger controls and processes, and behave ethically, we provide value and enhance our reputation. When we share our passion with other auditors, especially beginning-level practitioners, we grow and improve the profession.

Those who only show up for a paycheck may need to do some soul searching to determine if they’ve truly chosen the right field. We need to have a “work to win” mentality, and we can do that by remaining passionate about our profession.

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