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IAm Jason Stepnoski

IAm Jason Stepnoski, CIA, CPA, CFE and CISA Aug 17, 2022

I find it fascinating how you can string together events in life, and they somehow add up to where you are today. My Mom was just trying to be helpful that day when she suggested I apply for the internal audit internship she had heard about through a friend. At that point, I was about to start my last semester of college and was firmly in the "what am I going to do with the rest of my life?" phase. So I listened to mom. I picked up "SQL for Dummies," read it back-to-back for about a week before the interview, and I got the job.

It turned out, internal audit fits me well. Even now, 17 years later, I like the near-constant problem-solving and the challenge of going out and learning something new and trying to make it work more efficiently. That love of challenge and learning spills over into other aspects of my life, too. I got into running much the same way I got into internal audit — through a suggestion from a friend. In junior high school, I was cut by the baseball team but still wanted to play sports, so I joined the track team. There were no cuts on the track team; if you showed up, you were on the team. It was an environment where the goal was to be better than you were the day before. Running has consistently been something I've enjoyed doing ever since.

These days, when I'm not parenting or auditing or volunteering with my local IIA Chapter, I spend many mornings running — sometimes three miles and sometimes for three hours. I couldn't tell you precisely why running has stuck as one of my favorite activities for most of my life while other hobbies have come and gone (looking at you, acoustic guitar collecting dust). There are plenty of down days where I am really dreading being out there plodding along, but I see it as an efficient use of time, and I have never regretted going out there and finishing a run.

My efficiency-oriented auditor brain appreciates the exercise and assorted benefits that running provides, but also the dual opportunity to spend that time learning. On my runs, I usually listen to audiobooks or podcasts ("Make Me Smart" and "People I Mostly Admire" are a couple of my favorites), or if I'm on a treadmill, I queue up some TedTalks to watch.

Running has led me to new challenges, as well. This year I completed my first ultra-marathon at the Way Too Cool 50K. An ultra-marathon is anything longer than a marathon and is usually run on trails. There is a lot of food (soup, sandwiches, chips — you name it, it's likely to be served at an ultra-race). The goal of most of the people running these races isn't to win, but to just be better than they were. Everyone just runs their own race.

I'm not always focused on efficiency and challenge with everything I do, and my wife has definitely helped me in this area (you could say she has taught this Borg some empathy). She introduces me to things I'd never thought I'd be interested in — such as owning backyard chickens.

Having backyard chickens is not likely the most efficient way to get eggs. It is, however, the most fun. One of my favorite things to do is go out each morning and greet these little cluckers with their food and some treats. I've had the chance to spend a few years with the flock now, and I've come to admire how, despite some pecking here and there, they all root for each other. We hear it before and after they lay an egg: The other chickens will loudly cheer on and celebrate their fellow fowl's achievement with several minutes of very loud bah-gawks and buh-gawks.

What I've learned: When it comes to life, auditing, or chicken-keeping, just run your race and support those flocking with you whenever you can.

Jason Stepnoski, CIA, CPA, CFE and CISA

Jason Stepnoski is Director of Internal Audit at VSP Vision.