Skip to Content

IAm Tomasz Smolarek

Blogs Tomasz Smolarek, CIA Sep 21, 2022

Through travel, martial arts, and motorcycles, Tomasz Smolarek stays open to new experiences, while also seeking a sense of balance. 

I believe internal audit was a perfect match for me. As a boy, I did not know who I wanted to be in the future (apart from a fleeting dream of becoming a football player). But I was always interested in how things work. For example, how was it possible for the car to drive or the plane to fly? What was the process involved? This "process" way of thinking was natural to me. I also realized I could apply this type of thinking to my personal goals. I would ask myself, "What is the ultimate goal, and what is the first step needed to achieve it?"

When conducting audits, you need to feel safe. What I mean by that is that you need to feel secure inside, aware of your strengths and weaknesses. This is something I struggled with in the past, and because of that, I decided to take on martial arts classes. I first studied Taekwondo and later WingTsun. Practitioners of WingTsun focus on efficiency, often turning an opponent's force back on themselves. The techniques correspond to natural behavior patterns, and it's not unusual to practice with your eyes closed. I've practiced martial arts for more than 20 years now, and I still enjoy it.

Tomasz on a dogsled tour in Kiruna, Sweden.

Even though the work fits me, an internal auditor's job can often be quite stressful. There are deadlines, and there is always some politics. There is a need to switch off for a while, relax, and focus on something else. Besides martial arts, I enjoy traveling and riding my motorcycle. Living in Heidelberg, not far from the mountains of Odenwald or Schwarzwald, offers an excellent riding experience for motorcyclists. But here also, an accurate balance between control and fun is needed. Sometimes I am better at judging this than at other times.

Lately, I have discovered golf, which has become another favorite way of spending my free time. Learning and playing golf requires patience, critical thinking, and control of one's emotions. One can see some apparent parallels between golf and internal auditing too.

I also enjoy interacting with people. Travel allows me to encounter different opinions and approaches to life. I've traveled to more than 50 countries on six continents — from Spitzbergen to the very south of Patagonia. What is important is that every country has so much to offer. Sometimes you just need a little more time to uncover it. I know there is so much more to see and many more interesting people to meet.

Tomasz Smolarek, CIA

Head of Internal Audit at EMBL in Heidelberg, Germany.