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IAm Stephanie Ewell

Blogs Stephanie Ewell, CPA Dec 21, 2022

I've never been drawn to a job where every day is the same. My job is very dynamic because everything can change overnight. You can be heading in one direction and then priorities change. It really keeps you engaged and fresh. I get to blend my IT experience with my CPA background, which is very exciting. Many things I'm working on are the future of internal audit. That means more data analytics, more automation, and more focus on the true upside and key risks — or key opportunities.

I've been with Ernst & Young LLP for 11 years, with an increased focus on internal audit for the last seven. I can be a bit protective when working internally in second- or third-line functions, especially with external auditors because I'm an external auditor too. I love wearing that persona and knowing what the external audit team is thinking to help me empower intelligent conversations with management and, when needed, provide pushback to be sure we're all thinking through the risk appropriately — not to be combative, but to make sure we're doing the right thing.

Curiosity and new challenges

For me, the job is about helping people understand how their business works. That means asking a lot of questions. Sometimes, the job is asking which IT systems should be in scope. Other times, it's a matter of taking a step back to understand the risk. My instinct is to find strings and keep pulling on them until I get to the end, which often reveals that things work a little differently than you'd expect them to.

Part of the internal audit mandate is to shine a light where no one else is shining it. Being ready to ask that next question has served me well. Curiosity is huge. If you don't know the answer, lean in, and talk to people to understand what you're missing. It's okay not to always have the answer. But you need to find out who does and pull them into the conversation.

Building a balanced future

I'm a mom of two boys, which takes a lot of my time. But I pursue my passion for travel whenever I can. In some ways, traveling to a new place involves many of the same emotions and skills as an internal audit. At first, going to a new place is exciting, but nerve-racking because you have to figure it out, then you get more comfortable as you navigate it. By the end, you've rocked it, had an amazing time, and have some great stories to tell.

I love showing colleagues there's space for them to excel in their careers, while also putting their family first. Right now, I'm working on being an awesome executive and plan to continue leading teams and building up the next generation of professionals.

Over the past year, I've focused on having good boundaries. As exciting and important as my clients and career are, neither are worth losing sleep over. It's important to give yourself grace. That way, you can navigate challenging circumstances without taking on the stress of the challenges.

I'm learning to accept that I need to make time to do the things that make me the best version of myself. I try to stay physically active. I have a streaming exercise bike and I do coach-inspired group workouts. I strive to get to the gym three days a week, read a book for fun, and practice meditation. Otherwise, I won't be the best executive, coach, or mom.

Stephanie Ewell, CPA

Senior manager working for the Ernst & Young LLP Risk team in the firm's Tampa office.