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2022 Emerging Leaders

Articles Emily Primeaux Sep 30, 2022

After two long years of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Emerging Leaders have, quite literally, emerged to foster relationships and help their communities. Many of these leaders have taken initiatives to create engaging workplaces in which teams can better collaborate and communicate. Others have suggested new, innovative ways of using data analytics and processes to approach internal audits, to great success. And all have expressed a desire to continue learning, growing, and excelling in their profession. These Emerging Leaders are an ambitious group, with big dreams and a positive outlook for the future of internal auditing. They are assets to their organizations and their communities, offering a helping hand where needed, assisting those less fortunate, and sharing their knowledge and fostering the growth of the next generation of internal auditors.

Ariel Arce

CRMA, CPA  / Age 27 / Manager / Protiviti, Fort Lauderdale, Fla


Ariel Arce was introduced to internal auditing as an undergraduate student during the University of Florida’s annual Fisher School of Accounting Council Women’s Accounting Symposium. There, a woman from Protiviti opened her eyes to new career options. Learning about the firm’s approach to providing internal audit outsourcing and cosourcing options, she “fell in love” with building client relationships and experiencing a variety of industries. “Seeing my clients win and their internal audit programs flourish is exciting because it shows how we can achieve great strides together as a team,” she says.

Arce’s passion for internal auditing comes through in every aspect of her work, says Protiviti Managing Director Andrew Struthers-Kennedy, leader of Protiviti’s global internal audit and financial advisory practice. “Ariel goes above and beyond to deliver on Protiviti’s commitments to the client and its people, including identifying ways to innovate and work smarter,” Struthers-Kennedy says. “She is well-known among Protiviti’s clients for always finding the right subject matter experts for the engagements.”

Arce, who became president of the IIA–Miami Chapter this year, is committed to the community. She was recently nominated to be the regional lead for Protiviti’s Growth and Retention of Women at Work employee networking group. As chair of the South Florida iGroww committee, Arce organized fundraising and volunteer events to support local women’s shelters and breast cancer patients. “Our focus to help the community should be led by selflessness and a desire to meet others’ needs,” she says.  Arce also enjoys playing tennis, traveling, serving her local church, and sharing adventures with her husband and golden doodle.

Adrian Romero

CIA / Age 29 / Business Risk Consulting Manager / RSM US LLP, Miami

Adrian Romero

Adrian Romero is goal-oriented with an aim of influencing, coaching, and leading others. “What excites me about my work is my ability to work with a team, the education that comes with those diverse perspectives and ideas, and the value each individual brings to our success,” says Romero, who is a member of the IIA–Miami Chapter. 

The Florida State University graduate’s ambitious attitude led to recognition in December 2021 when Romero received the First Choice Advisor Award at RSM for his service to clients and his team, living the firm’s values, and demonstrating qualities such as critical thinking and curiosity. Romero always asks “why,” says Nicolas Falquez, director, Risk Consulting at RSM. “This question allows him to not accept the status quo, but to understand rationale, learn from prior experiences, understand others’ opinions, and develop or adapt to a new or differing approach to a situation or topic.”

Romero’s stewardship shines in his position as national leader of the Veterans and Allies Leading OutReach Employee Network Group, which works with veterans, active and reserve military members, and their spouses within RSM and local communities. “VALOR’s focus is on recruitment and career advancement, education, community outreach, and building corporate partnerships to benefit the community,” he explains. He recently became a father to a baby boy and enjoys spending time with his family, traveling and eating around the world, and playing golf.

Madison Rorschach

CIA, CGAP / Age 27 / City Auditor / City of Denton, Denton, Texas

Madison Rorschach

Madison Rorschach was watching Parks and Recreation during her undergraduate studies in economics at Texas A&M University in College Station, and became interested in how cities operate. That led her to apply for positions in the city’s internal audit function and the Fire Department. “I never got a call back from the Fire Department, but I got the audit internship,” she says.

Rorschach says a favorite aspect of working in local government is seeing how her work helps her community. Recently, she and her team used statistical analysis to determine that the city’s water rate structure was not effective. The team’s recommendations helped lower average water bills during the next fiscal year. “This was a clear, positive impact that our audit had on the city’s residents,” she says. Another positive is promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion principles throughout local government auditing. “When we can improve people’s lives by looking at how our communities are addressing mobility issues, homelessness, and other social programs, there’s a responsibility to move beyond purely financial audits,” she explains.

Indeed, Rorschach chaired the Association of Local Government Auditors DEI Committee after a period of conflict. “Madison was able to deftly navigate the existing tensions between the board and the DEI Committee through significant interpersonal skills,” says Chris Horton, county auditor of Arlington County, Va.

Rorschach was vice president of the IIA–Brazos Valley Chapter before moving to Denton, where she was secretary and treasurer of the IIA–Fort Worth Chapter. She also is ALGA’s representative on The IIA’s Public Sector Advisory Committee. A proud member of the LGBTQ+ community, Rorschach is married to her high school girlfriend. She likes inline skating and playing drums.

Yimika Babayemi

CIA, CPA, CISA / Age 30 Senior Auditor, Technology and Product / Salesforce, Dallas

Yimika Babayemi

Yimika Babayemi credits growing up in a society marred by corruption and financial mismanagement for igniting his interest in auditing. He explored this interest at EY Nigeria by conducting financial statement audits for clients in the banking, retail, and oil and gas sectors. A graduate-level internal audit class at The University of Texas at Dallas gave him a broader view of auditing. “This class exposed me to auditing as a profession of trusted risk advisors who enable organizations to attain their business objectives,” Babayemi says.

His professor, Dr. Joseph Mauriello, says Babayemi’s innovative thinking contributed to the success of UTD’s Center for Internal Auditing Excellence. “Yimika’s one-on-one coaching techniques whereby he pulled from his experience as an internal audit student resonated with his peers and resulted in better student success,” Mauriello explains.

Babayemi’s experience assessing technology risks during his time at EY guided him to the internal audit group at Salesforce, where he partners with stakeholders to improve technology processes, secure products, and protect assets. His commitment to business partners and his team drives him to learn about new subject areas and give stakeholders ideas for further improvements. “Hearing partners say, ‘We hadn’t thought of that,’ or ‘That’s something we should be doing’ keeps me excited about work,” he says. Similarly, he has coached students on how to develop audit plans as a member of the IIA–Dallas Chapter.

From volunteering at the North Texas Food Bank to speaking with students about career options, Babayemi says it’s important to lift others as repayment for his success. In his free time, he visits family, plays soccer, and rehearses bass lines for Sunday church service.

Samantha Guarnero

CIA / Age 27 / Lead Analyst, Governance and Risk / National Grid, New York

Samantha Guarnero

Samantha Guarnero tries to diversify her skills whenever the opportunity arises. “Whether it be testing a new process or using test approaches that are unfamiliar, it’s important to continually improve on skills and find new challenges to overcome,” she says. This is what has drawn Guarnero to internal auditing there are always opportunities to identify new risks or find improvements, she says. Guarnero adds that the profession also helps provide a more extensive understanding of a business and each engagement is different.

“Samantha has taken many step-up opportunities to manage audit projects on complex engagements,” says Joy Clark, senior manager, Internal Audit, at TIAA, and Guarnero’s former manager. Guarnero recently joined National Grid after four years at TIAA.

While at TIAA, she learned how to write code in SQL and execute more extensive and timely audit testing. In addition to enabling her to test a full population, she says, “the skills and techniques that I learned enabled me to obtain data sets independently, resulting in a more reliable population for testing.”

Outside of work, Guarnero enjoys hiking, participating in intramural sports, and reading a good mystery novel. She also volunteers to mentor students across the U.S. as well as associates at her company. “The COVID-19 pandemic drastically changed the way we were able to volunteer over the last two years,” she says. “However, one silver lining is that there was no geographical restriction on giving back.”

Guarnero, who has a master’s degree in accounting from Bentley University, is a member of the IIA–New York Chapter.

Nicole Carden

Age 30 / Assistant Vice President, Audit Manager / American Heritage Bank, Tulsa, Okla.

Nicole Carden

Nicole Carden’s path to internal audit began with an interview for an external audit position at Eide Bailly LLP just to gain interviewing experience. “They must have liked me because they kept me on for almost five years,” she says. After starting as an audit associate, the Northeastern University graduate switched to internal audit in 2019 and became an audit manager before the age of 30.

That’s impressive, considering that auditing is not a natural skill for her, Carden says. “Analytics, risk evaluations, and analyses aren’t something I am naturally good at,” she explains.

Carden’s colleagues say leadership and relationship building are where she excels. Matthew Barth, vice president of Internal Audit at American Heritage Bank, says she has outstanding rapport with the bank’s employees and represents the audit department in a professional and positive manner. Carden is president of the IIA–Tulsa Chapter,  where she created the chapter’s new newsletter, which she presented during an IIA Leadership Academy roundtable.

Carden says she looks back on the past year and is proud of her personal growth. “I’m able to show up a better person, allowing myself and those around me more patience and grace than I previously had,” she says. Carden’s jovial and kind demeanor is an asset to the community, as well. She’s the treasurer for Sapulpa Arts and Humanities Foundation, which brings the arts to a small, rural community.

Austin Walker

CIA / Age 29 / Vice President–Audit Manager / Citi, Dallas

Austin Walker

Austin Walker is an optimist who lives by the motto, “Do each thing like you do everything.” A member of The IIA–Dallas Chapter, Walker says, “My job is awesome in that I get to constantly watch and be part of my team growing and progressing to be better auditors and leaders.”

Walker’s positive spirit served him well when he led a three-month audit covering an area at Citi whose stakeholders have historically been reluctant to work with internal audit. Yet after the engagement, those stakeholders commented that Walker’s team “made the process almost enjoyable,” he says. “All auditors should recognize that we are part of the bigger team, and we should always do our part to add value to everything we touch including our relationships with those around us.”

Tami Hewett, global director of Learning and Development at Citi, says Walker excels at developing relationships with stakeholders and mentoring his team. “Austin is an innovative thinker who is constantly exploring new ways to audit more efficiently and effectively,” she says. For example, Walker has proposed ways to expand and structure parts of Citi’s audit process and led the first-place audit team in an internal “Shark Tank” competition.

Outside of work, Walker enjoys food, fitness, and travel. And as often as time allows, he helps teach financial literacy through Junior Achievement and speaks about finance, banking, and auditing with students at his high school and his alma mater, Louisiana State University.

Modou Marega

Age 27 / Lead Auditor Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, Internal Audit Directorate, GoTG, Banjul, Gambia

Modou Marega

Modou Marega joined the internal audit profession to help in the fight to enhance fiscal transparency and accountability in the public sector. “I want to be part of the next generation of internal auditors taking on the challenges posed by emerging risks, technology, innovation, and disruption,” says Marega, who is pursuing a master’s degree at Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia in Venice, Italy. “I am fully committed to the process of enhancing transparency and accountability in our quest to eliminate fraud and corruption.”

One way Marega is contributing is as a risk champion in a team leading the formulation of a governmentwide risk management process based on the Gambia government’s risk management framework and policy. Established in 2018, the framework details a philosophy, principles, commitment, requirements, and responsibilities for managing risks to achieving the government’s goals, he explains. “I am proud of the undertaking because there’s improved performance, growth, and sustainable value creation in government business.” 

A member of IIA–Gambia, Marega’s passion for his work is felt by those who work with him. “Modou is an audit team leader with impeccable character,” says Abdoulie Bah, senior internal auditor at the Internal Audit Directorate, Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs.

During his leisure time, Marega spends time with his family and plays soccer. He also participates in events that raise awareness of local need, encourage local unity, and raise money for community development.

Geoff Schaeffer

CIA / Age 29 Senior Manager, Internal Audit Data Analytics / Morgan Stanley, Arlington, Va.

Geoff Schaeffer

Geoff Schaeffer handles several functions within internal audit data analytics, specifically around testing processes or risks within standard audits. “My goals are to further my data and business knowledge to expand the value data analytics can bring to our audits and the business,” he says.

An accounting and finance graduate of Virginia Tech, Schaeffer says audit clients appreciate the value of his analytics and insights. He recently built a tool to test eligibility criteria for a complex product and mitigate the risks of inadequate approvals. “Not only did it add a lot of value to our audit, but the clients also realized that they could use my approach to implement a better control to mitigate the risks identified in my analysis,” he says.

Such innovative thinking sets Schaeffer apart, says Pete Stoyas, managing director, Internal Audit–Innovation and Data Analytics at Morgan Stanley. “Geoff leveraged the power of insight from data and found new ways to help the business auditors raise their overall level of assurance,” Stoyas explains.

Schaeffer was part of the audit group who volunteered at the Arlington Food Assistance Center, and he is a member of the IIA–New York Chapter. During the pandemic, he spent time with cats that were up for adoption at a local charity called Pets Bring Joy. An avid soccer fan he’s played with the same team for five years. Schaeffer also is a skier, runner, and surfer.

David Li

Age 28 / Consultant, Enterprise Risk Services / MNP, Toronto

David Li

David Li says he felt there must be more challenging work for him than working in investment accounting, and he found it in the internal audit profession. His work within MNP’s Enterprise Risk Services department supports the implementation, evaluation, and monitoring of internal control and compliance requirements for clients, with a focus on the financial services sector. But what excites him the most is the future of the internal audit profession in environmental, social, and governance. “I support the idea of evaluating organization performance from a holistic point of view that is beyond just financial metrics,” he says. “I hope to be able to help organizations adopt and mature their governance, risk management, and internal controls around ESG.”

While majoring in commerce at the University of Toronto, Li learned how processes and systems affected the accomplishment of organizational goals. He enjoyed discovering how a financial institution adopted a new compensation model in response to the 2008 financial crisis and how a steel industry company sustained its success over several decades. Recently, Li has pursued his interest in processes by taking classes to learn about user experience design. His studies led to an opportunity to improve an existing process within his firm by applying usability heuristics to streamline initial onboarding and data gathering for net worth verifications. “While it’s still not perfect and requires additional revisions and learning on my part, I am proud that I applied integrative thinking,” he says.

Outside the office, Li helped MNP’s charity basketball tournament raise more than $3,000 for the community and volunteered during MNP’s United Way event. “David demonstrates great leadership among his peers,” says Dennis Dai, senior manager at MNP.

Li is a member of the IIA–Toronto Chapter, where he is a former treasurer. When he is not working, Li enjoys photography, aspiring to one day create photos like famous photographers Fan Ho and Saul Leiter. He also plays volleyball, cycles, and swims.

Ashleigh Tagliamonte

CIA / Age 28 Internal Audit Manager / Evans Bank, Buffalo, N.Y.

Ashleigh Tagliamonte

Ashleigh Tagliamonte admits she never imagined she would end up in internal auditing, but she feels lucky to have discovered it so early in her career. “The field, and by nature, the work, is constantly changing and presents a new challenge each day,” says Tagliamonte, an accounting graduate of the State University of New York at Geneseo. 

She became a manager before age 30 a goal she has had since college. “I’m proud of what I’ve been able to bring to the department, and it makes me happy to come to work every day,” she says.

Jessica O’Connor, assistant senior auditor at M&T Bank, says Tagliamonte was an asset to the audit department at M&T before she moved to Evans Bank in April. “She served as a resource for several new employees by helping them have a smooth transition onto the team,” O’Connor says. She also points to Tagliamonte’s leadership of her department’s DEI committee. “She helped create a charter to align the efforts of the committee with those of the bank,” O’Connor notes of Tagliamonte, who also has a certificate in Sustainability and Climate Risk. 

A long-time volunteer, Tagliamonte is marketing chair of the IIA–Western New York Chapter. She works with a close family friend who runs a charity focused on helping the homeless and with her mother who runs a food pantry. She is passionate about speaking for those who are under-represented and helping the less fortunate. Her hobbies include plants and her two high-energy dogs.

Dak Hall

CIA, CISA / Age 30 / Audit Manager / USAA, San Antonio

Dak Hall

When Dak Hall thinks about his proudest accomplishments, two immediately come to mind. The first was leading a stress-testing audit at USAA that was the largest review on the audit plan and showed him that internal audit could be a lifelong career. “Based on the nature of the audit, it had high visibility with both leadership and our external regulators,” he says.

Hall says he is also proud of helping others build their careers as the internal audit department’s internship coordinator. “Seeing the interns grow over the summer and understand the value internal audit adds to an organization is both a proud and rewarding experience,” he says.

In this vein, Michelle Carter, USAA’s assistant vice president of IT Security Audit, praises Hall’s leadership skills and mentorship of new auditors and junior staff. By demonstrating how the work should be done, “Dak goes above and beyond expectations as a coach during his audits,” she says. “His understanding of audit methodology and tools and his ability to connect with team members have made him a ‘go to’ resource.” Hall says his goal is to continue to learn and grow as an internal auditor in the financial services industry. He participates in events at the IIA–San Antonio Chapter.

When Hall is not spending time with friends and family, he serves on his church’s finance committee and his Oklahoma State University fraternity’s Housing Corp., an alumni group that assists the collegiate chapter with financial matters. “No one achieves success on their own, so it’s each of our responsibilities to give back to the community to help others grow and succeed by leveraging our personal strengths,” he says.

Caitlin Barton

CIA / Age 29 / Internal Audit Manager / NN Inc., Kingsport, Tenn.

Caitlin Barton

Caitlin Barton builds impactful relationships all over the world through her internal audit function. Aspiring to be a CAE, she says she is proud of the audits she led early in her career with NN Inc., a global industrial manufacturing company. “I started with no experience, truly a trial by fire, with my first audit on my fifth day in Slovakia,” she says. “I’m proud that I stuck with it and found my place in our profession and our company.”

Barton’s fortitude has paid dividends to the company, as she was a vital asset in a recent major transition to an agile audit approach. Cara McConnell, vice president of Internal Audit at NN Inc., says Barton developed an inventory of data needed to execute the plan and wrote audit programs to integrate continuous monitoring with the department’s audit processes. Moreover, she worked with stakeholders to ensure a smooth launch of the program. Barton’s contributions “have made our team much more efficient, having the data at our fingertips, and we discover issues more quickly,” McConnell says.

When Barton isn’t spearheading team initiatives, she’s busy contributing to her community through the foster care system. Barton, who has a master’s degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, says her faith compels her to open her home to children from all walks of life. “I often remind myself of this when considering why giving back to my community through foster care is so important: If not us, then who?” She also volunteers with youth sports programs and with at-risk families.

Barton is actively involved in the IIA–Charlotte Chapter, and in her spare time, she enjoys traveling, listening to true crime podcasts, and reading.

Peter Trandem

CIA, CPA / Age 27 / Lead Audit Manager / Wells Fargo, Minneapolis

Peter Trandem

Peter Trandem says he lucked into internal auditing by way of his former accounting professor at the University of Minnesota. “He would share stories about his time in auditing during our classes and really tried to incorporate real-life problems into the coursework,” he says. “I was naturally drawn to the meticulous and inquisitive nature of auditing.” It is a quality he brings to his new position as lead audit manager for Wells Fargo’s conduct and complaints team in Minneapolis.

At his previous job at U.S. Bank, Trandem used his own inquisitive nature to help identify risks and controls and evaluate control design and adequacy for regulations such as the U.S. Fair Credit Reporting Act. Recently, Trandem’s team was looking at a population of more than 90,000 products to ensure they met all regulatory requirements. “Rather than sample, I suggested new tools to look at all the data and compare them to the calendar year to see when certain tasks were completed,” he explains. “It was the first time I really used data analytics to innovate in our day-to-day audit work.”

Trandem also displays his leadership skills through his charity work, which included organizing U.S. Bank’s 2019 volunteer event. “Peter identified charities in the Twin Cities area that could accommodate 20 to 30 volunteers at each site to ensure that the entire audit department was engaged in the community,” says Kristen Goggins, internal audit manager at U.S. Bank.

Trandem is chair of academic relations for The IIA–Twin Cities Chapter and also volunteers every year at the Minnesota State Fair’s Alphabet Forest, handing out bookmarks and teaching kids games they can play while learning to read. A huge bookworm, himself, he can quote Harry Potter in English and Spanish.

Aimee Grab

Age 25 / Auditor II / Nielsen Global Media, Tampa, Fla.

Aimee Grab

Aimee Grab enjoys building personal relationships with her internal audit teams to create a sense of togetherness when completing tasks. “The connections I make while at work, either remotely or while conducting fieldwork, are what drive my day-to-day passion,” Grab says. In a past role, she used this positive nature on a trip to Israel, where she performed walk-through meetings on an external audit for one of the world’s largest advertising agencies. “It was my first project, so I was determined to learn and grow as quickly as possible to keep up with the fast-paced time line,” she says. Now, she’s focused on helping Nielsen Global Media roll out a major innovation to change the way it measures, presents, and does business with its clients. 

Kevin Alvero, senior vice president of Internal Audit at Nielsen, says Grab thinks of innovative ways to analyze data and automate processes for more effective audits. She also advises automation software developers about internal and external audit processes. “That helps us ensure that automation is done in a smart way to maximize return on investment,” Alvero says.

When Grab is not thinking outside of the box at work, she is participating in community service programs such as beach clean-up days, crafting Christmas cards for the elderly, and leading classes on innovative thinking and creativity for elementary schools. She also was vice president of Alumni Affairs for Florida State University’s business organization, where she created a student mentorship program to discuss professional and personal goals. Grab is a member of the IIA–Florida West Coast Chapter. In her free time, she is passionate about cooking and enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking and the beach.

Emily Primeaux

Emily Primeaux is the writing manager at Dragonfly Editorial in South Florida and former associate editor at Fraud Magazine.