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Building a Better Auditor: Positioning Yourself for Management

Blogs Alex Rusate, CIA, CRMA, CCSA Apr 19, 2022

Asking for more responsibility and strategically working on your soft and technical skills can help you demonstrate your value on the internal audit team and even set you up to become the 'go-to person' for certain technical topics.

As a staff member of the internal audit team, you may have aspirations in the short-term or long-term to become a member of the department management team. Creating a well-structured plan for how to achieve this goal is paramount to your success. Key ways this can be achieved is through taking on next-level responsibilities and further developing your technical and soft skills.

Taking on Next-level Responsibilities

It is often difficult to take the time to step out of the trenches of doing your core responsibilities to think about taking on additional, next-level responsibilities, but it will pay dividends in the long-run. Set up a meeting with your supervisor or bring up the discussion at your next one-on-one to see how you can start getting more involved in management tasks. Make sure to start small. Activities to get involved in include supervising audits, reviewing audit workpapers, participating in the risk assessment and audit planning process, helping with managerial administrative items, or even leading team initiatives, such as team KPIs or process improvement. A critical component of this is to make sure that the additional responsibilities do not impact the quality or timely delivery of your core responsibilities. Showing that you can balance additional management-level tasks along with your daily work will help to build a great case for promotion when the opportunity arises.

Soft Skills Development

Honing both your soft skills and technical skills is essential to career development. There are many resources inside and outside your company that can be leveraged to improve your soft skills. One of the first steps in developing your soft skills is to get an objective understanding of where your biggest development opportunities are. Consider discussing your strengths and weaknesses with your peers and management to elicit candid feedback. After understanding where you can improve, seek out some of the training resources online that will help to build those skills. LinkedIn Learning is a great training resource for soft skill development, and many of the courses provide continuing professional education (CPE) credits. After fortifying your areas for improvement, research if your company has a leadership training program, and set up a long-term or short-term plan for participating in the program. According to a 2017 study published by the Journal of Applied Psychology, employees who participated in leadership training programs improved their learning capacity by 25% and their performance by 20%. Leadership training programs help to not only teach the theory behind being a great leader but also how it can be applied to the office setting. The items mentioned above are great starting points for developing your soft skills, but there are many other options as well. The journey never ends when it comes to soft skills development.

Technical Skills Development

Staff auditors tend to start off with one area of technical focus such as financial, IT, or operations. Building out that technical skill set across those three areas will make you invaluable within your department. The best place to start when it comes to audit technical development is the IIA. The IIA provides training and certifications resources that can bring your skill set to the next level. If you do not have your Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) certification, that should be one of the first priorities for your technical development. For many management-level positions, being a CIA is a minimum requirement. There also are IT and industry-specific certifications through the IIA that can be a great addition to your auditor toolbelt. The IIA practice guides and publications are great resources that help to broaden your technical skills. Another option is to double down on your current area of practice and become the subject matter expert (SME) within your department in that area of focus. By becoming the team SME in that area, it will raise team reliance on you and give you a seat at the table when technical issues arise within your area of focus. By further developing your technical skills, it can provide great visibility to your organizational value, especially when you can be the go-to person in your department.

Overall, if you can make strides toward taking on next level responsibilities and enhancing your soft skills and technical skills, you will be positioned for success when opportunities present themselves.

Alex Rusate, CIA, CRMA, CCSA

Senior Internal Auditor, New York Independent System Operator, from Saratoga Springs, New York

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