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2023 Emerging Leaders

Articles Emily Primeaux Oct 03, 2023

A vanguard of visionaries is helping define the future of internal auditing in an era of technological transformation.

The 2023 Emerging Leaders embody a resounding beacon of optimism and are a testament to internal auditing's boundless potential for harnessing innovation, collaboration, and vision.

In the ever-shifting technology landscape, where generative AI and expansive language models have taken center stage, a bright horizon emerges for the internal audit profession. This year’s 15 exceptional Emerging Leaders have not only embraced the winds of change but harnessed them to steer the course of innovation. Data analytics is a mainstay of their practice and their pragmatic approach to incorporating new tools in their operations showcases their adaptability and versatility. These Emerging Leaders embody a resounding beacon of optimism and are a testament to the internal audit profession's boundless potential for harnessing innovation, collaboration, and vision.

Natasha Fernandez

Age: 30


Certifications: CIA, CRMA, CA (Singapore)


Chapter: IIA–San Jose


University: Singapore Management University


Interests: Watercolor painting, crafting gifts and cards, hiking, international travel.


Causes: Local food banks.

Natasha Fernandez

Senior Risk Advisor / Uber Technologies Inc. / San Francisco

Natasha Fernandez’s internal audit journey began in college when her internal audit professor invited practitioners to share their real-world experiences with students. During a networking reception afterward, Fernandez received a business card from a vice president at Singapore Airlines. When she graduated a year later, she pulled out that business card, reached out to him, and landed a job.

Now at Uber, Fernandez leads thought leadership projects and tackles challenging reviews that require creativity, flexibility, deep dives into niche areas, and strong relationships with stakeholders. She says the most validating feedback comes from proactive requests from stakeholders to collaborate with internal audit on high-risk areas.

Recently, her team reported on critical business risks that aligned with the audit committee’s concerns and goals. “It was a truly satisfying and proud moment to produce a piece of work that was not just reflective of our team but also the hours of collaboration and input provided by more than 100 stakeholders across the business,” she says.

This is typical of the excellence, motivation, and “grit” Fernandez shows, says Uber CAE Dominique Vincenti. “Natasha has won numerous awards for her ability to deliver quality work consistently, to be curious, and to find critical problem areas that management cares to know about and address,” Vincenti says.

Shanna Saravia

Age: 29


Certifications: CPA


Chapter: IIA–Washington D.C.


University: Pace University


Interests: Exercise and international travel.


Causes: Animal care and participating in town cleanups.

Shanna Saravia

Internal Audit Manager / Warner Bros. Discovery / Nyack, N.Y.

When Shanna Saravia was in middle school, her homeroom teacher chose her to help with bookkeeping for money the class received for its “Pizza Wednesday” lunch days. “One day she told me, ‘With your attention to detail, I can see you becoming an accountant,’” Saravia says. “That comment stuck with me.”

Although she studied public accounting in college, she now focuses her attention to detail on advancing data analytics and automation in the audit practice at Warner Bros. Discovery. Lauded by co-workers for her innovative mindset, Saravia’s goal is to build a dedicated data analytics team with the skills and expertise to promote efficiencies and effectiveness.

One of Saravia's recent projects involved building multiple analytics dashboards to show spending trends for a newly merged organization. “While some people shy away from new technologies and tools, Shanna is the first to volunteer to learn and tell us how we can build them into our roadmap,” says Jen Fortini, senior director, internal audit at Warner Bros. Discovery.

Ying Ho Lee

Age: 29


Certifications: CIA


Chapter: IIA International member


University: Singapore Management University


Interests: Kite-flying, wine, coffee, and leathercraft.


Causes: LGBTQ+ equality and supporting low-income communities.

Ying Ho Lee

Assistant Vice President and Audit Supervisor / Bank of America, Singapore

Ying Ho Lee says curiosity fuels his desire to continuously learn, grow, and approach challenges with an open mind. He says he is invigorated by the dynamic nature of internal auditing within the financial sector, where the constantly shifting regulatory landscape and emerging trends provide an exciting backdrop for professional development. Providing valuable assurance and insights to stakeholders fuels his passion for the critical role internal audit plays in effective corporate governance.

At Bank of America, Lee is entrusted with leading multifaceted internal audit projects spanning diverse domains such as corporate banking and human resources. He says his proudest achievement, however, has been mentoring four internal audit professionals in a global data analytics training initiative. “Witnessing their adept use of data analytics in audit work and triumphant completion of data analytics certifications gives me a sense of fulfillment,” he says. “This mentorship has allowed me to make a tangible and transformative impact by guiding and empowering others.”

Lee’s mentorship doesn’t stop in the office. He provides guidance for at-risk youth in his community. “Ying Ho is passionate about LGBTQ+ equality and helping those in need, which is in line with the bank’s commitment to drive economic and social progress,” says Li Ca Goh, audit director at Bank of America.

Brooke Lobdell

Age: 27


Certifications: CIA, CPA


Chapter: IIA–Saskatchewan, board member


University: University of Saskatchewan


Interests: Baking, yoga, and pilates.


Causes: Community gardens, the food bank, the Saskatchewan Children’s Festival, and DEI groups within Nutrien.

Brooke Lobdell

Internal Auditor, Corporate & Data Analytics / Nutrien / Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Brooke Lobdell says she has always had a keen interest in data analytics and automation, and after beginning her career at Ernst & Young, she wanted to find a role where she could develop that proficiency. She found that opportunity at Nutrien, where she maintains the current automation platforms and coordinates with diverse teams to improve business functions.

“I am passionate about working with teams to detect bottlenecks, identify improvements, and create innovative solutions,” Lobdell says. “Being able to bring data-driven solutions to the teams I work with excites me; it allows the teams to garner deeper insights from their data and lets me demonstrate the value internal audit brings.”

She leveraged this innovative mind to develop her first SQL script. The script was designed to detect conflicts of interest using data from multiple platforms, comparing the results to conflicts that had already been disclosed. Despite its complexity, she says the research to find the appropriate formulas and automate the analysis of new data was rewarding.

“Brooke is responsible for looking after more than 25 active robots and has written seven complete scripts while balancing her responsibilities in audit engagements,” says Tony Gee, corporate auditor at Nutrien.

Joshua Castille

Age: 29


Certifications: CIA, CPA


Chapter: IIA–Houston, member of the annual conference committee.


University: Louisiana State University and The University of Texas–Dallas


Interests: Learning to play drums, golfing, bowling, spending time with his two rescue dogs.


Causes: Education and local food charities such as Kids Meals on Wheels and the Houston Food Bank.

Joshua Castille

Manager, Risk Advisory Services / Weaver / Houston

When Joshua Castille isn’t busy managing client relationships or developing and overseeing internal audit plans, he’s likely helping individuals entering the workforce discover career opportunities within internal auditing.

“I have had great role models who have committed time to my development, fostering truly respectable relationships that have been critical in getting me to where I am today,” says Castille, who was introduced to the profession through IIA Centers of Internal Audit Excellence at Louisiana State University and The University of Texas–Dallas. “I want to be a leader and coach for others, paying it forward and fostering an environment where questions, development, and involvement are not only welcomed, but encouraged.”

And Castille’s commitment to helping others is evident in the praise he receives from his team. “I am always thrilled to be on a certain client or project with Josh because I know I will be able to learn so much from working with him,” says Hannah Reddecliff, a risk advisory associate at Weaver.

Castille has twice received Weaver’s Risk Advisory Professional Excellence award, which is based on nominations from leadership and awarded to one member of the Risk Advisory Services team each year.

Alex Heisler

Age: 28


Certifications: CIA, CRMA


Chapter: IIA–Red River Valley, Programming Officer, Vice President/President Elect


University: North Dakota State University


Interests: Golf, the lakes, hunting, downhill skiing, and travel.


Causes: Food pantries and supporting families in need.

Alex Heisler

Senior Auditor / Gate City Bank / Fargo, N.D.

Alex Heisler believes that giving back to the community is just as important as his day-to-day professional responsibilities because it builds relationships with community members and teaches life skills — such as generosity, selflessness, and empathy — that he can use throughout his career. “In Fargo, there are many families that rely on the services of food pantries,” he says. “Throughout the year and especially during the holidays, our internal audit team enjoys serving together to help provide families in need with groceries and everyday essentials.”

In his current role, Heisler manages a portfolio of internal audit engagements and assists the CAE in annual audit planning, risk assessment, and relationship management activities. His career goal is to lead an audit team that promotes excitement for the profession and fosters innovation to add value to the organization.

“Alex reinvented our approach to auditing our retail branches,” says Tammy Valvo, CAE at Gate City Bank. Heisler built a risk assessment process to gather and analyze data to develop a multi-year coverage plan for the bank’s 43 retail branches. “Alex demonstrated innovative thinking in his approach to data analytics by helping colleagues think through tests and minimizing false positives," Valvo adds.

Areeba Hassan

Age: 29


Certifications: CIA, CRMA, CMA


Chapter: IIA–Washington D.C., Vice President of Communications


University: Athabasca University


Interests: Learning new languages (currently French, Urdu, and Punjabi), running, philosophy, psychology, and art.


Causes: Healthcare.

Areeba Hassan

Manager, Enterprise Functions Audit / Scotiabank / Toronto

At the age of seven, Areeba Hassan noticed her father reading a book with “CIA” and a magnifying glass on the cover. She mistook those letters for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency but later learned they represented Certified Internal Auditor. She has associated a “certain coolness” with internal auditing ever since.

Now, Hassan says she strives to provide excellence in her internal audit work, including understanding risks and objectives and their impact on the organization while maintaining the highest standard of ethics. She says she has cultivated an ability to take anything with complexity and uncertainty, evaluate potential risks, and ask the right questions to break down the issue. "I credit it to being curious about the business and open to new challenges," she says.

For example, Hassan recently recommended adding automation and process mapping to enhance senior management-level reporting for the human resources function's audit team. “Always demonstrating curiosity and eagerness to learn new skills, Areeba has taken on the responsibility to automate certain processes for the unit,” says Carla Vargas, director of enterprise functions audit at Scotiabank.

Monica Vulich

Age: 26


Certifications: CIA, CISA


Interests: Exercising, weekend trips, the restaurant industry, and football.


Chapter: IIA–Raleigh-Durham


University: University of Texas–Dallas


Causes: North Texas Food Bank, and racing events such as Spartan and the Multiple Sclerosis Mud Run.

Monica Vulich

Audit Data Analyst / Yum! Brands / Winston-Salem, N.C.

Monica Vulich was introduced to the internal audit profession when she joined her university’s Center for Internal Audit Excellence program as a teaching assistant and officer. Now she supports her internal audit team with dashboards for reports and audit statutes.

A former data engineering intern, Vulich recently programmed a data connection between Yum! Brands' audit software and its business intelligence platform, which allowed auditors to create and update reports in real time throughout the audit cycle. “What excites me about my work is getting to work on new challenges and with different types of data,” she says.

Peers recognize Vulich’s innovative thinking and speaking prowess. In October 2022, she spoke on data analytics at the annual IIA–Dallas Super Conference and in February she spoke on the same topic at a continuing professional education lunch for the IIA–Louisville, Ky. chapter.

“Monica is a natural leader who excels at building collaborative environments that allow for strong team building,” says Joseph Mauriello, director for the Center for Internal Audit Excellence at UT Dallas. “Her thought leadership and contributions to the conference resulted in recognition from her peers.”

Andrew Sizemore

Age: 27


Certifications: CIA, CPA, CISA


Chapter: IIA–Cincinnati


University: Xavier University


Interests: Fishing, camping, hiking, and sports.


Causes: Special needs and child homelessness.

Andrew Sizemore

Director, Risk & Controls / Clark Schaefer Consulting / Cincinnati

Andrew Sizemore’s goals are driven by his desire to help others. “My youngest brother has Down Syndrome, so I am passionate about helping serve individuals with special needs,” he says. In addition, he mentors children in Cincinnati who struggle with homelessness. “Giving back to the community is an important part of my faith and personal values,” he explains.

Sizemore began his career at a public accounting firm performing financial statement and System and Organizational Controls (SOC) audits. In his current role, he oversees the performance and sales of internal audit, risk assessment, SOC reporting, and testing services for Sarbanes-Oxley, the Japanese Financial Instruments and Exchange Law, and the insurance industry’s Model Audit Rule.

Sizemore has led the internal audit division through organizational changes such as a company merger and system implementations, says DeAnna Bird, chief operating officer/chief administrative officer at Clark Schaefer Consulting. “Andrew actively promotes a culture of continuous learning within his team by encouraging certifications, attending relevant training programs, and participating in professional forums,” she says.

Sizemore says he is especially proud of recently passing the CIA exam. He says he would like to serve on the board of a nonprofit organization and work with colleges to help inspire and recruit future auditors. He and his fiancé, Emily, plan to marry in 2024.

Brent Logan

Age: 29


Certifications: CIA, CPA, CFE


Chapter: IIA–Denver


University: Colorado State University and University of Denver


Interests: Cycling, skiing, running, hiking, and camping.


Causes: Multiple Sclerosis research and the Lavender Association of Colorado.

Brent Logan

Senior–Internal Audit & Audit Analytics / Alliance for Sustainable Energy LLC / Golden, Colo.

In college, Brent Logan was advised that learning accounting and auditing would equip him with universally applicable skills that would open opportunities throughout his career. Following this advice led him to internal auditing and his current role at the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, which is the operating contractor for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

Logan manages a spectrum of responsibilities, including overseeing and providing audit and advisory services, maturing the use of data analytics, and leading the configuration and optimization of NREL’s audit management software. “My role in internal audit provides me the opportunity to collaborate with driven individuals who are passionate about the NREL vision of a clean energy future,” he says. “By providing meaningful assurance and recommendations, I contribute to the vision by helping management improve operations, risk management, and control activities.”

Logan currently leads a comprehensive audit engagement — comprising all phases of the capital project life cycle — of management’s stewardship of infrastructure projects funded by the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. Stakeholders appreciate his insight and feedback in helping them manage risks.

Colleagues have noticed Logan’s good work. “Brent works on complex and sensitive internal audit and advisory engagements and has demonstrated his ability to use his business acumen and leadership skills to produce high-quality work products with impactful results,” says Brent Olson, director of internal audit at NREL.

Jason Gilley

Age: 27


Certifications: CPA


Chapter: IIA–Toronto


University: Ontario Tech University


Interests: Weightlifting, running,
and spending time with family.


Causes: Men’s health and local food banks.

Jason Gilley

Senior Manager, Governance, Risk & Control Advisory / Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp / Toronto

Jason Gilley wants to look back on his career and be able to say he had a positive impact on the organizations, people, and communities with which he worked. Each workday, he says he’s excited to learn from diverse and talented professionals who open his mind to new ways of working and challenge him to think innovatively.

Gilley reached this place of career optimism thanks to guidance from college mentors who introduced him to the audit profession and the chance to perform purpose-driven work. One of his proudest accomplishments is working to improve employee engagement, collaboration, inclusiveness, and professional development within his organization’s internal audit function. “I hosted focus groups to garner feedback and develop key initiatives to implement in each of these areas,” he says. “Even a small contribution that generates a feeling of empowerment and inclusion among the team is a success to me.”

That contribution makes Gilley well-respected inside and outside the workplace, says Kyra Li, a 2020 Emerging Leader and director of Governance, Risk, and Control Advisory at the Ontario Lottery & Gaming Corp. “Internally, he has spearheaded initiatives to improve the employee experience and create a fun environment that attracts talented individuals.” Externally, Gilley is passionate about working with his community, including raising funds for Crohn’s and Colitis Canada research.

Aimee Bhakthavachalam

Age: 30


Certifications: CIA, CPA


Chapter: IIA–Houston


University: University of Houston


Interests: Photography and tennis.


Causes: Mentorship of university students and young professionals.

Aimee Bhakthavachalam

Manager, Internal Audit & Financial Advisory / Protiviti / Houston

Aimee Bhakthavachalam says in her work she often sees a diverse set of problems to solve. She leads an outsourced internal audit team assisting in Sarbanes-Oxley compliance and is excited to contribute to her clients' efficiency, safety, and trustworthiness. 

Last year Bhakthava­chalam worked with a client who faced an issue with a control gap in payments, and her team performed a gap analysis. She came up with an idea to create a visual to show the relationships between the various spreadsheets that were used in the process. By showing the relationship between data more easily, the visual helped identify one of the root causes that the client was facing. “My teams were supportive and provided great feedback that allowed me to build the final versions of the visual,” she says.

Such problem-solving is typical of Bhakthava­chalam, who recently was among the winners of Protiviti's Python Hackathon. “Aimee goes the extra mile to deliver on Protiviti’s commitments to clients and their team members, always finding ways to innovate and work smarter,” says Andrew Struthers-Kennedy, managing director and global practice lead, Internal Audit & Financial Advisory at Protiviti.

Jada Pierre

Age: 25


Chapter: IIA–Charlotte


University: Southern New Hampshire University and the College of Charleston


Interests: Anime, travel, dine-in movie theaters, party planning, interior design, and her dog, Koda.


Causes: DEI initiatives and fighting hunger.

Jada Pierre

Senior Internal Auditor / TIAA / Charlotte, N.C.

Jada Pierre recounts a time last year when she was given less than 48 hours to prepare a mid-year presentation. “I was nervous as this was the first time I had to present solo to my entire department,” she says. “It took me out of my comfort zone and proved to others — and mainly myself — that I can execute quality work under pressure.”

As the auditor in charge (AIC) at TIAA, Pierre is responsible for drafting all planning documents, planning walkthrough meetings with clients, coordinating between the audit team and its clients, managing people, and drafting audit reports. Currently, as the AIC, Pierre is working on a confidential review, collaborating closely with her director and managing a small team. She is responsible for reviewing work, drafting the final report, and creating presentations for the chief financial officer. “Being a first-year senior, this is a huge opportunity for me as I get the chance to step into the role of a manager, which is the next step in my professional journey,” she says.

Goal-oriented, Pierre is an advocate of diversity, equity, and inclusion and takes on leadership roles in her company's team-building events and community service initiatives. “Jada is particularly passionate about fighting hunger and supporting access to nutritional meals for those living in food deserts and helping to organize meal kit and snack-packing events,” says Angie Jin, senior director of internal audit at TIAA.

Alina Shynkar

Age: 29


Certifications: ACCA


Chapter: IIA–Central Illinois International Member


University: International Business School of Budapest and Maastricht University


Interests: Hiking and escape rooms.


Causes: Ladies’ Circle International (a social networking organization for young women) and supporting Ukraine and Ukrainian refugees.

Alina Shynkar

Assistant Project Manager / ADM / Hamburg, Germany

Alina Shynkar moved from Ukraine to Hungary on her own when she was 17 years old to study at a business school in Budapest and then started her career at a Fortune 500 company without speaking the local country’s language. “I am eager to learn, grow, and develop,” Shynkar explains. “I am proactive in seeking opportunities for skill-building, taking on challenges, and expanding my knowledge base, and I’m happy to step outside of my comfort zone.”

Now living and working in Germany, Shynkar is a member of ADM’s internal audit team for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. “Alina leads internal projects, lives ethical values, and is an example of being inclusive to a diverse team,” says Christian Gutzeit, senior audit manager at ADM. In 2022, Shynkar introduced expanded data analytics into regional audits and promoted an agile approach throughout the life cycle of projects. She says it was an opportunity to go above and beyond by delivering results.

Hasan Aliyev

Age: 28


Certifications: CIA, CRMA, ACCA, CFE, FMVA


Chapter: IIA–Azerbaijan


University: Azerbaijan State University of Economics


Interests: Playing football and tennis, watching documentaries, and reading economic, historical, and classical literature.


Causes: Education, charity runs, and environmental clean-up campaigns.

Hasan Aliyev

Group Internal Audit Manager / Agrotrade Supply Group / Baku, Azerbaijan

Hasan Aliyev is fascinated with data analysis, risk management, internal control, and governance, fueling his desire to engage in multifaceted business processes. He pursues these interests through strategic activities such as spearheading group risk assessments, crafting audit plans, and presenting findings to audit committees and supervisory boards.

Aliyev oversees audits for 10 subsidiary manufacturing and agriculture companies, channeling his insights to help elevate operational efficiency and enhance risk profiles. He also lends his expertise to the audit committees of two companies.

Recently, Aliyev led a meticulous risk assessment and audit planning endeavor for two critical audit engagements by interviewing key stakeholders, analyzing business processes and internal controls, and pinpointing ways to overcome strategic barriers. Aliyev provided valuable insights to management, “underscoring the proactive role of internal audit in risk mitigation, fortifying internal controls, and fostering governance 

excellence,” he says. “This accomplishment stands as a pivotal milestone in my career.”

Beyond his professional domain, Aliyev offers his expertise through educational workshops and mentoring individuals aspiring to earn the CIA and CRMA designations. His advocacy extends to nurturing the growth of IIA–Azerbaijan, helping more than 15 new members join the organization.

“Hasan’s commitment to promoting the importance of internal auditing and building strong professional networks exemplifies his dedication to advancing the profession and supporting his peers,” says IIA–Azerbaijan President Aziz Fataliyev.

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Emily Primeaux

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