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Building a Better Auditor: The Value of Mentorship

Blogs José Antonio Támara Espot, CIA, CFE Aug 09, 2022

From its origin in Ancient Greek mythology to its modern-day concept, the meaning of the word mentoring has evolved significantly. Represented as a senior and experienced trusted advisor, a mentor assists in nourishing and developing a junior mentee by providing guidance, advice, and the necessary tools that will serve the latter to grow as a person. Today's understanding of mentoring does not necessarily imply a senior-to-junior relationship and tends to focus on expanding a specific set of skills, typically professional or academic. The modern mentoring process also frequently involves the achievement of a number of defined goals with predetermined milestones.

For a significant part of my life, I was blessed to look up to the best mentor I will ever have: my father. However, I was never involved in a formal mentoring program. So, when I learned about the 2021-2022 IIA Emerging Leaders Mentoring Program, my curiosity drove me to sign up. However, I was unsure whether I should participate as a mentor or a mentee. At this stage of my life and career, with close to 10 years of experience in the internal audit field and more than 20 years of professional baggage, theoretically, I may be sufficiently mature to position myself as a mentor.

On the other hand, while I think that experience often breeds knowledge, it does not always make one an expert in everything, and there is always something new to learn. I was not entirely sure about the nuts and bolts of a formal mentoring process and lacked perspective on the role and typical tasks expected of the mentor. With the aforementioned in mind, there was a job I had to learn. I signed up to be a mentee.

After the initial mentee orientation session, for about a week, I could not help but feel excited and was very much looking forward to learning who The IIA would appoint as my mentor for the next seven months. When the announcement finally arrived, I was fortunate to match to a well-seasoned professional with broad experience in finance and audit, a brilliant academic mind, and an outstanding personality and charisma, Dr. Rainer Lenz.

I started this journey as a mentee with a general and widespread notion, rather than a comprehensive and detailed list of the areas I wanted to develop. Gratefully, my mentor read between the lines, set up rules, and provided structure to our monthly meetings. Regardless of how tangible and measurable our achievements have been (the blog entry you are reading now is one of them), those have exceeded my most optimistic expectations. Through his guidance, insightful work, and wide range of published papers, I have discovered a new, meaningful approach to a more valuable and efficient model of the internal audit activity and its contribution to corporate governance. On top of that, our open and honest conversations, exchange of views, and experiences shared helped establish a reciprocal mentoring relationship. The most valuable accomplishment has been to get to know a genuine and kind person — a trusted advisor who has undoubtedly contributed to my growth, beyond just my professional persona.

I must express sincere gratitude to the Institute of Internal Auditors for sponsoring the Emerging Leaders Mentoring Program and for the opportunity to be part of it. My thanks extend to all the well-disposed mentors who generously participated in this program, donating their time, knowledge, and expertise to help nurture better professionals. Last but not least, I am extremely obliged to Dr. Rainer Lenz for his outstanding contribution.

Since I am an auditor, my duty begs me to issue a humble recommendation: Regardless of how defined the roles of a mentor and a mentee are or how explicit the goals are, I genuinely believe that the real value of a mentoring journey goes beyond a tangible outcome.

José Antonio Támara Espot, CIA, CFE

Internal Audit Manager, Fujikura Automotive Europe, Zaragoza, Spain.

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